Tournaments : : Story
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Brinson blocks out the distractions

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

JUPITER, Fla. – Having grown and matured into one of the nation’s top outfield prospects in the class of 2012, Lewis Brinson finds that he really isn’t overwhelmed by too much anymore.

It’s just that there remain some scenes and situations that can be just a little bit more overwhelming than others, or at least trigger memories of the same.

Brinson was at the Roger Dean Complex – the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins – late Saturday morning in preparation of taking the field for the Red Sox Scout Team/Elite Squad at this year’s Perfect Game WWBA World Championship.

This is the fifth PG WWBA tournament to go with three PG BCS Finals tournaments that Brinson has participated in. He usually plays with the Mizuno Edge – that’s the team he was with at last month’s WWBA Florida Qualifier – but was in attendance at last year’s WWBA World Championship with the South Florida Elite Squad.

That was his first experience at the Jupiter event. This will be his last.

“Last year was unbelievable and this year it seems even crazier,” Brinson said. “It can be a little overwhelming if you’re here for your first time. It’s not bad if you’ve been here (multiple) times, but if it’s your first time it’s like, ‘Woooow! I’ve never seen this before in my life.’ When you’re 17 years old you’ve never seen this many scouts at a game before, so it can be overwhelming.”

More than 900 professional scouts and college coaches/recruiters are at the Roger Dean Complex for this year’s WWBA World Championship, an 85-team elite tournament that began Thursday and concludes Monday.

Brinson is a senior at Coral Springs High School in Tamarac, Fla., who has done enough to impress Perfect Game scouts to slide into the No. 23 slot in the class of 2012 national prospect rankings (he is the nation’s No. 7 top outfield prospect). He has verbally committed to Coach Kevin O’Sullivan and his staff at the University of Florida.

The scouts were arriving early for Saturday’s Red Sox Scout Team/Elite Squad game, and it was easy to understand why. The RSST/ES roster is loaded with 21 players who have committed to NCAA Division I schools – eight of them to the U of Miami – including right-hander Shaun Anderson and left-hander Parker Danciu, who have also committed to Florida.

Brinson tries to push the scouts and the dozens of golf carts they pilot to each field out of his mind.

“Once I get on the field I can kind of block all that out,” he said. “I might say hi to a couple of guys before the game but when I’m warming up I just try to stay focused on what I need to do to win. I’m out there to play and I try not to look out in the crowd and I just try to block all that out.”

One thing the scouts have noticed about Brinson is his uncanny resemblance and style of play to Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler – right down to his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame (the Rockies list Fowler at 6-4, 190). When Fowler was Brinson’s age, he was developing his skills inside the structure of the elite East Cobb Baseball program.

Perfect Game director of scouting David Rawnsley has compared Brinson to Fowler many times.

“Brinson is a phenomenal athlete; probably a ‘7’ runner on the big league scale,” Rawnsley noted Saturday. “He’s got right-handed power (and) he’s got that thin build and I think he projects more power than Fowler did at the same age. But if Brinson fills out just a bit – and that’s the thing scouts talk about with him: how much is he going to fill out, because he has one of those greyhound, Fowler-type bodies.”

Brinson lost his father almost seven years ago and it has been his mother, Suzie, and his uncle (Suzie’s brother) James Allen who have guided him down the baseball path.

“She’s been a big part of my life,” Brinson said of his mother. “When my dad passed away she took the role of mom and dad – my uncle moved in just to help us out – but she’s been unbelievable. She’s been a big help.”

Suzie has done a remarkable job with 17-year-old Lewis. He carries a 3.5 GPA in the classroom and he’s obviously excited with his choice of becoming a Florida Gator should he end up going the college route.

“The atmosphere at Florida and the weight room,” he said when asked the simple question, why Florida, “and the fact that they go to the College World Series almost every year. It’s a great (program) and their fan base is crazy – they seem to get 10,000 fans every time they’re at home. It’s just a great atmosphere.”

Despite having already committed – and the signing date for the 2012 commitments is coming up in less than a month – Brinson continues to thrive in the environment created at Perfect Game events like the prestigious WWBA World Championship.

“These events are very beneficial,” Brinson said. “I’m committed to Florida so Coach ‘Sully’ comes and watches me to see how I’m doing, and as far as the draft, all these scouts coming and everything, it just gives me a chance to get a look-see against better pitching and better competition.”

Brinson doesn’t shy away from draft talk, unlike many of the other top draft-eligible prospects.

“I think about the draft all the time (and) me and my mom talk about it,” Brinson said. “I think about the possibility of playing pro ball and getting that big (pay) check.

 “I love it, I love it,” he concluded. “All these events – it’s just crazy to see all the opportunities that you’ve had with all the guys you’ve been playing with since you were about 12 years old, and you’re grown up now and you see all these scouts at your games. It’s just been unbelievable.”

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