Outfielder Lewis Brinson has agreed to terms with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers' first-round pick (29th overall) in last week’s draft is signing for $1.625 million, the amount the Rangers had slotted for this selection per the new draft budget rules in the collective bargaining agreement.
Brinson was the first of 43 selections by the Rangers in this draft, and the top five selections agreed to terms today.
“With this year’s draft, the thing is we have to make sure like 99.9 (percent) that they were going to sign, and that was the case with Lewis Brinson,” said Frankie Thon, the Rangers' amateur scout who recommended Brinson. “Nowadays, you can’t afford to draft a first rounder and don’t sign him because you are going to lose the money. You can’t use it for another round. You can pay less (than slot) and use the remainder of it for another round, but if you don’t sign him then you lose the money.”
This seems to be the new challenge in scouting. The Rangers, just like every other team, must conform to the new draft budget guidelines or incur penalties. That means finding the best on-field abilities and character makeup, but also making sure to include a player’s willingness to sign for a specific dollar amount. Otherwise, there’s no point in drafting the player.
Brinson is a 6-foot-4, 180-pounder who bats and throws right-handed. He was an Under Armour All-American at Coral Springs (Fla.) High School, where he batted .394 his senior season.
“He’s very athletic. Physically, he looks like a skinny Cameron Maybin, Dave Winfield-type of body. Winfield got stronger later on, but that type of body. Very, very impressive,” Thon said of the center fielder who has a plus-arm.
“He can run 3.9-4.0 from home to first, which is very, very good," Thon continued. "He’s got a gun for an arm. He can steal. He can run. I’ve been scouting for 26 years ... if not the best, he is one of the best running from first to third. He can glide. He has a lot of power.”
In addition to Thon, the Rangers' cross-checker scouts, A.J. Preller (senior director of player personnel) and Don Welke (special assistant to Jon Daniels, scouting) did their due diligence off the field. They met with Brinson and his mother on numerous occasions to get to know the family.
Brinson, who turned 18 in May, was committed to playing baseball and getting his college education at the University of Florida, but now he is expected to begin his professional career in the Arizona Rookie League.
Thon also recommended the Rangers' 16th-round selection, second baseman Janluis Castro from Puerto Rico. He also has signed with the Rangers. Thon’s scouting coverage areas are South Florida and Puerto Rico. He’s been scouting more than 20 years, nearly a decade for the Rangers. His brother Dickie played for the Rangers in 1992.
Frankie Thon was a guest on Sunday’s edition of Rangers Magazine (ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM). We also discussed Brinson’s current and projected skill set, getting to know Brinson off the field, additional insight on the new draft rules, why this is the best time he’s had as a scout, his coverage area and if he has ever compared a player to his brother. Listen to the podcast.
Bryan Dolgin is the Rangers radio pre and postgame show host on the Texas Rangers ESPN radio network. He also is the host of Rangers Insider and Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Follow him on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.