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How Soon Could Royce Lewis Call Target Field Home?

On Monday night, 2017 #1 overall pick Royce Lewis faced 2018 #1 overall pick Casey Mize in Lakeland, Florida. It was the Florida State League debut for Mize. It was Lewis’s 21st game with the Miracle. On this night, Lewis went 2-for-2 with a home run against Mize, and 4-for-6 with two home runs overall as the Miracle topped the Flying Tigers 13-0.

Obviously it was a fun matchup, but it is a matchup that fans of the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers hope to see a lot of over the next decade, or more. As a hard-throwing right-hander, Mize is likely to fly through the Tigers system and could debut as early as midseason 2019. But it gets me wondering just when we might see that match up at Comerica Park or Target Field.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Royce Lewis)
One question I get often on Twins Daily and on Twitter: "When could we expect to see Royce Lewis in the big leagues with the Twins?" To answer that question, I thought it might make some sense to look at two recently drafted shortstops selected high in their particular drafts who have gone on to big league successes, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa. Maybe a glimpse at their timelines might help us better understand a possible timeline for Royce Lewis.

Let’s start also by saying that anything below this point likely assumes health. That’s never a guarantee, and it certainly can effect a timeline. Secondly, Correa and Lindor are proven All-Stars already.

They are players that Lewis often gets compared to, and that’s not necessarily fair either. Royce Lewis gets comps to Derek Jeter, not to Lenny Faedo. But as Lewis has said frequently, while he enjoys watching those players and their games, he is not trying to be the next Player X. Instead, he insisted in a podcast interview this past offseason, “Being comped with players is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, I want to be Royce Lewis. I don’t want to be Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor, as amazing as those people are. I just want to be Royce Lewis, and I want to be my own type of person and bring something new to the game that others may have already brought but in my own special way.”

THE DRAFT

Royce Lewis: As we know, Lewis was the Twins top pick and the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He had turned 18 years old just a week before being selected.

Carlos Correa: Houston surprised many people in and around the game of baseball when they selected Correa with the first overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He didn’t turn 18 until a few weeks after his draft season (September).

Francisco Lindor: Lindor grew up in Puerto Rico, but he went to high school in Florida. Cleveland made him the #8 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He turned 18 five months after he was drafted (November).

DRAFT SEASON

Royce Lewis (2017): Lewis signed quickly and the Twins sent him to Ft. Myers where he began his professional career in the GCL. He homered in his first at-bat. He played 36 games there and hit .271/.390/.414 (.803). We were then surprised that he was sent to Low-A Cedar Rapids (Midwest League) where he played in 18 games and hit .296/.363/.394 (.757).

Carlos Correa (2012): After signing, the Astros sent Correa to the GCL. He played in 39 games and hit .232/.270/.355 (.625) before ending that season with 11 games in the Appalachian League.

Francisco Lindor (2011): Lindor signed a bit later and his pro career began with just five games in the New York/Penn League.

FIRST FULL SEASON

Royce Lewis (2018): Lewis returned to Cedar Rapids to start the season. He played in 75 games for the Kernels and hit .315/.368/.485 (.853). About a month ago, he was promoted to High-A Ft. Myers where he has now hit .329/.418/.506 (.924) after his big game last night. Combined, he has 29 doubles and 12 home runs. Lewis turned 19 in early June.

Carlos Correa (2013): The Astros had Correa begin his first full professional season in the Midwest League with Quad Cities. He spent the full season with the Bandits where he hit .320/.405/.467 (.872) in 117 games. He hit 33 doubles, three triples and nine homers. Correa played the whole season at age 18.

Francisco Lindor (2012): Cleveland had Lindor start his first season in the Midwest League as well with Lake County. He played 122 games for the Captains and hit .257/.352/.355 (.707). He hit 24 doubles, three triples and six home runs. He spent the full season at age 18.

SECOND FULL SEASON

Royce Lewis (2019): To be determined. Lewis will turn 20 in early June.

Carlos Correa (2014): Correa was 19 years old throughout his second full season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full season. In mid-June, Correa’s season came to an end when he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year. He played well to that point, hitting .325/.416/.510 (.926) in just 62 games at High-A Lancaster in the California League. He hit 16 doubles, six triples and six home runs in his partial season. He turned 19 after the season.

Francisco Lindor (2013): Lindor began his second full season at High-A Carolina of the Carolina League. In 83 games, he hit .306/.373/.410 (.783). He moved up to AA Akron for his final 21 games of the season. Smaller sample, but he hit .289/.407/.395 (.801). Combined, Lindor hit 22 doubles, seven triples and two home runs. He turned 19 after the season.

THIRD FULL SEASON

Royce Lewis (2020): To be determined. He will turn 21 years old in early June.

Carlos Correa (2015): Correa successfully rehabbed his broken leg and was invited to big league spring training. He began the season at AA where he hit .385/.459/.726 (1.185) in 29 games before being pushed forward to AAA. He spent less time in AAA, just 24 games, and hit .276/.345/.449 (.794). Between AA and AAA, he hit 21 doubles, three triples and ten homers. He was called up to the Astros and made his MLB debut on June 8, 2015 (age 20 years, 259 days). Despite playing just 99 games with the Astros, he won the American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .279 with 21 doubles, a triple and 22 home runs. He turned 21 late in the MLB season.

Francisco Lindor (2014): Lindor began the 2014 season where he ended the 2013 season, at AA. In 88 games, he hit .278/.352/.389 (.741). He ended the season with 38 games at AAA Columbus and hit .273/.307/.388 (.695). Combined, he hit 16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. He turned 21 a month after the season completed.

FOURTH FULL SEASON

Royce Lewis (2021): To be determined. He will turn 22 years old in early June.

Carlos Correa (2016): Correa’s first full season with the Astros. As a 21-year-old, he played in 153 games and hit .274 with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI.

Francisco Lindor (2015): Lindor began his 2015 at AAA. He played 59 games there and hit .284/.350/.402 (.752) with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Six days after Correa, he was called up and made his MLB debut on June 14, 2015 (age 21 years, 212 days). In 99 games for Cleveland, Lindor hit .313/.353/.482 (.835) with 22 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs. He finished runner up to Correa for Rookie of the Year.

Correa and Lindor have had terrific starts to their careers. They are both in their fourth season in the big leagues now and have established themselves as stars. Correa won that 2015 Rookie of the Year award. He was an All-Star in 2017 and then helped lead the Astros to a World Series title. Lindor has been a three-time All-Star, and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. He led Cleveland to the World Series in 2016 when they fell in a tough Game 7 to the Cubs.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Carlos Correa made his MLB debut three years after being drafted, almost to the date. It was in his third full season as a professional. It was especially aggressive considering he missed half of a season with a broken leg. Francisco Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after her was drafted out of high school. It was halfway through his fourth full season.

Obviously Royce Lewis’s debut will not be based on Correa and Lindor’s timeline. It will be based on his progress at each level and the Twins front office’s plan for his arrival, and what they want him to accomplish at least stop along the way.

However, here are some scenarios:
  • Correa debuted three months before his 21st birthday. For Lewis, that would be Opening Day 2020.
  • Correa debuted approximately three years after his draft day. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2020.
  • Lindor debuted about four months before he turned 22 years old. For Lewis, that would mean Opening Day 2021.
  • Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after he was drafted. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2021.
That’s a pretty big range for when we could see Royce Lewis debut in the big leagues. And again, I have to reiterate that prospect and player development is not necessarily linear. Players develop at different rates. That’s important to remember and remind yourself before you get to this next paragraph.

Lewis is in his first full professional season. I’m guessing you noticed that both Lindor and Correa spent their entire first full season in the Midwest League. By season’s end, Lewis will have about 50 games in the Florida State League. We could say the Lewis is about a half-season ahead of Correa and Lindor were at the same stage. Additionally, I’m sure you noticed that the power numbers that Lewis has displayed surpass the power numbers shown by Correa and Lindor. Those two didn’t show much power until they got to the big leagues. There is reason for excitement.

But you’ll notice that Cleveland was a lot more patient with Lindor than Houston was with Correa, especially when you consider that he missed about half a year.

If you want my opinion, I think there is an outside chance, but a chance nonetheless, that Twins fans could see Royce Lewis at Target Field late in the 2019 season. I fully expect the Twins to invite Lewis to big league spring training next year, and I expect that he will make an impression on the coaches. In addition to Lewis’s development offensively and defensively, a call up in 2019 may depend as much on the Twins season and playoff competitiveness.

AGGRESSIVE: July 2019 is very aggressive. Lewis will have just turned 20 and could help the Twins down the stretch.

REALISTIC: June 2020 is probably the most realistic timeline for Lewis.

PATIENT: June 2021 is a patient approach, especially considering how quickly the Twins have moved Lewis to this point, but Francisco Lindor has turned out quite good despite a slower approach.

It is a question I get often. I try to answer in a realistic manner, but I did want to dig into the development timeline of two great young shortstops, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. While they are just two data points, it gives us something to compare to, something that could be achievable.


So now it’s your turn? When do you think Royce Lewis will be able to make his MLB debut? What do you think the determining factors should be for his promotion?

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41 Comments

If Royce Lewis joins the Twins after the All Star break in 2019, it will have to go like this:

 

Tears it up the rest of the season in Ft. Myers. We're talking hits .350, with power. 

Starts 2019 in Ft. Myers, ripping baseballs to shreds, like .375 with power, plus great fielding.

Promoted to Chattanooga after first month of A ball. Continues to rip (.350 or better) and play great D. 

Called up from AA straight to the show around the All Star break. This could happen if somebody gets injured, too. If Polanco or Adrianza go down, who ya got that's better? Conceivably Lewis could even jump over Nick Gordon, who needs to pack on some muscle and improve his pitch recognition. Looks like Royce Lewis is recognizing pitches just fine. 

 

See you in the Bigs, kid!

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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 07 2018 05:34 AM

Not sure I'd call Houston impatient wtih Correia. The guy destroyed the high minors.

 

Lewis has been really similar to Correia thus far, but to be fair, Correia turned it up substantially in both his second and third full seasons... Hopefully Lewis can do the same, but I certainly wouldn't be pinning my hopes on the kid breaking a .900 OPS in the high minors. That's not fair to Lewis. 

 

Lindor, strangely enough, was better in the majors than he ever was in the minors. 

    • Twins33, nicksaviking, spycake and 3 others like this

Don't hold back.It seems like MLB has shifted and younger players are coming in if they are the stars.Normal players get lengthy progression, but Lewis looks like one of those who can be a teenage star.

    • d-mac likes this

Seth, thanks for the comparison article!!! Nice read!Plus it gives us hope!!!!!

 

Now how about a similar article for Alex Kirilloff? :)

    • SF Twins Fan likes this

I think that different players develop at different rates.Sometimes a player gets stuck and needs to work on something, no matter how good he has been on everything else.The other consideration here is position and opportunity at the MLB level in that position.Is Lewis a SS or a CF?Will there be openings at those positions at the MLB level?

 

The last thing the Twins want to do is to hurry yet another top prospect.I'd say opening day 2021 is about when I expect to see Lewis, pending injuries/issues etc or surprises (like the Twins win it all in 2020)

    • Blake, Mike Frasier Law, DocBauer and 3 others like this
Lewis should debut either in June (after the likely Super 2 arbitration cutoff, like Correa and Lindor) or mid-April (after the 7th year of control is guaranteed, like Kris Bryant).

These dates are largely irrelevant for the vast majority of players, but Lewis looks elite and thus they carry some significance, especially as a position player. Yes, the service time may prove irrelevant like it has for Buxton and Sano, but you have to cover that base in advance.

The only question now is how quickly he can get through AA and AAA and stay healthy. June 2019 is probably a little too fast -- but it would be exciting! April 2020 seems like a good bet now, assuming health, with a fallback of June 2020 or April 2021 if he is slowed by an injury in the meantime.

If the Twins deviate from those dates, it would be nice if his call-up was accompanied by a contract extension, buying out his arb years and at least one FA year.
    • Mike Sixel, slash129, d-mac and 2 others like this
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SF Twins Fan
Aug 07 2018 06:43 AM

If Lewis plays the rest of the season at High A like he has I could see him starting next season at AA. Playing half the season there, and if excelling, moving up to AAA for the remainder of the season - maybe getting a September call up. Then starting 2020 with the Twins as their starting SS. I think moving him any faster than that would be a disservice to his development.

    • goulik, dbminn, d-mac and 1 other like this

I think he plays next year AA-AAA with a Sept call-up.Then making the team in spring 2020.Take a look at some of our top Prospects- Lewis 19 but moving quick, Kirilloff 20 and killing A+, Gordon 22 at AAA, Graterol 19 at A+, Gonsalves 24 Why is he not up yet???, Larnach 21 needs to move quickly from low A, Rooker 23 at AA.I'd like to see all these guys sooner rather then later.S.T. next year will tell the real story of when we'll see these guys. 

    • d-mac, SF Twins Fan, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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SF Twins Fan
Aug 07 2018 06:48 AM

 

He had a great game last night against the 2018 #1 pick.

    • Mike Frasier Law and d-mac like this

Thanks a lot for this, Seth.Really informative.

 

Assuming health, I see Lewis and Kirilloff both joining the Twins in September, 2019.Both move to AA to start the year, or after a brief stay in Fort Myers.Move up to AAA in late summer before being added to the 40-man and called up following the season.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

I hope they start both Lewis and Kiriloff in AA next year.That way if they play well they can get some time in AAA before trying MLB.I think 2019 is a bit of a pipe dream for either player.They would have to be really ready because they would need to use a 40 man spot and start using options.It is not decision to take lightly but if they dominate there is an outside chance they debut.

 

2020 should be an exciting year.Lewis and Kiriloff will likely debut and we should have some young pitchers in Graterol, Duran, Balazovic close to MLB.Also Rortvedt, Javier, Badoo and Miranda should be close by 2021 with an outside chance that Severino and Celestine are ready then as well.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, Monkeypaws and 3 others like this

 

If the Twins deviate from those dates, it would be nice if Scott Boras wasn't his agent.

 

FTFY

    • d-mac likes this

Nice breakdown.  Convenient that there are two highly comparable comps from recent history, both of whom come from progressive(?) organizations, one of which Falvey was a part of.

 

Lewis--and Kiriloff--feel different than the last two highly rated prospects the Twins had.  Less hope and squinting is needed to picture these guys in the majors as young--performing--players.

    • Monkeypaws, d-mac, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Aug 07 2018 09:00 AM
I would think if Royce keeps improving as he is he will be a September call-up in 2019 with the opportunity to win the starting SS position by 2020. I think Lewis starts the year in AA since he has proven to have mastered A+ ball. And I feel while he’ll have an adjustment period to deal with by mid July he’ll be promoted to Rochester and will do enough to warrent a “sneak peak” by September. Of course if he were to get injured that would set his timetable back some.

I too am guessing 2020 for both Lewis and Kiriloff......no surprise, but I'd move them both to AA right now. Challenge them and see what happens. It might be good for both to struggle for the firs time.....

 

If they aren't in AA this year, I guess both start in FTM next year, since the weather is better than any other option in the system. This makes it more likely they play full time the first month. Then they move to AA in May/June, and AAA at the end of the year.

    • rghrbek, MN_ExPat and HrbekRules like this

 

Lewis--and Kiriloff--feel different than the last two highly rated prospects the Twins had.  Less hope and squinting is needed to picture these guys in the majors as young--performing--players.

 

So lots of hope and squinting was needed to picture 2017 Platinum Glove Winner Byron Buxton being a young performer when he put up a 944 OPS with double-digit everything in 2013.

 

I remember the fanfare being pretty much the same.

 

Sure there is excitement, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

    • Mike Sixel, d-mac, lukeduke1980 and 1 other like this

 

I think Lewis starts the year in AA since he has proven to have mastered A+ ball. 

 

98 PAs, dude.

 

Or, is that kind of like when Chris Parmelee mastered the MLB level in 2011?

Great article, Seth.You put together a great comparison piece with lots of options for expectations that, I'm sure, was meant to generate some positive yet tempered excitement surrounding a top Twins prospect.

 

I just hope the general feeling on the board can stay positive and tempered, instead of taking a hard left into fantasyland.Once you enter fantasyland, there seems to be no return.Then the pitfalls start hurting feelings and crushing expectations.The end result ends up being a season long general bashing of a once popular fantasy super hero.See Miguel Sano.He can't even strikeout once in a game without someone spinning it as a failure.

 

I too am guessing 2020 for both Lewis and Kiriloff......no surprise, but I'd move them both to AA right now. Challenge them and see what happens. It might be good for both to struggle for the firs time.....

 

If they aren't in AA this year, I guess both start in FTM next year, since the weather is better than any other option in the system. This makes it more likely they play full time the first month. Then they move to AA in May/June, and AAA at the end of the year.

 

HAdn't thought about that but if the FO moved them to AA this year yet then I would say the chances would be better for them to make it up to MLB in 2019.I still ultimately think the FO will wait until 2020 though.They will want to be sure they are ready and I think there is going to be a 40 man crunch in 2020 as well. So lots of things to think about before they let them move up to the big club.

 

If they do well in AAA though they may force the FO to make those moves sooner.I'm just excited we have two players this good coming up with lots of good talent right behind them.

    • Mike Sixel, SF Twins Fan and MN_ExPat like this

I tell my kids that you learn more about a man at the moment of rejection than at any other time. 

 

We have seen Kiriloff deal with disappointment and responding to a major injury. It has been impressive. 

 

We have not seen how either of them deal with things when the ball looks like a marble and the bat feels like a tree trunk. We need to see how they deal with a prolonged slump.

 

People have to struggle in order to be successful. Right now, they look like the next great thing but many, many players have in the single A levels. It seems that AA is the true proving ground. 

 

I have not noticed anything that leads me to believe they wouldn't respond well to a slump but it needs to be seen. 

Why not opening day 2019?Add Gordon, Luis Arreaz, LeMonte Wade and Rooker to that lineup too. Here are the reasons why.

 

 

1. They would not be the first 20 or 21 year olds to play in the major leagues.I haven't seen any evidence were the Twins minor league development makes that much of a difference. Make the commitment to these young players even if that means lots of losses, lots of errors and lots of strikeouts.  

 

2.It isn't as if the team has a high quality players at the positions.THe middle infield is wide open with the trading of Dozier.Move Lewis to SS and Gordon to 2B, with Polanco and Arreaz the utility guys.Replace Morrison with Rooker. Wade is the 4th OF, and Kirilloff would play all of the OF spots as well as DH.

 

3.Let this new wave of current FO picks mix in with the younger guys we have on the roster now, get a manager that will be willing to work with the young guys and has the patience to do so, and let this group take their lumps for a bit.Maybe 2019 would be a 100 loss season like 1982 or the recent ones we had.But, my guess is starting late 2019 and into 2020 we would see the elements of growth in many of these players.Not all of them will be successful, but learning this now means we can adjust with new prospects from the minors and then finding veteran players to fill the remaining gaps.  

    • Mike Sixel and MN_ExPat like this

Great stuff, Seth!

 

I'm going to guess we see Royce in June 2020 once the super-2 service time is taken care of.  

 

Any idea when he most likely would make an appearance in the Arizona Fall League?After this season or after 2019?None at all?

 

 

 

 

Lewis should debut either in June (after the likely Super 2 arbitration cutoff, like Correa and Lindor) or mid-April (after the 7th year of control is guaranteed, like Kris Bryant).

These dates are largely irrelevant for the vast majority of players, but Lewis looks elite and thus they carry some significance, especially as a position player. Yes, the service time may prove irrelevant like it has for Buxton and Sano, but you have to cover that base in advance.

The only question now is how quickly he can get through AA and AAA and stay healthy. June 2019 is probably a little too fast -- but it would be exciting! April 2020 seems like a good bet now, assuming health, with a fallback of June 2020 or April 2021 if he is slowed by an injury in the meantime.

If the Twins deviate from those dates, it would be nice if his call-up was accompanied by a contract extension, buying out his arb years and at least one FA year.

 

Has Scott Boras even done this type of thing before?Buying out arb years and extending into FA?

 

Has Scott Boras even done this type of thing before? Buying out arb years and extending into FA?


Perhaps not.

But that just makes it more important to time the promotion, if at all possible, for maximum impact. You want him to have significant impact on 7 MLB seasons, preferably starting with a competitive one.
    • 70charger likes this

 

Perhaps not.

But that just makes it more important to time the promotion, if at all possible, for maximum impact. You want him to have significant impact on 7 MLB seasons, preferably starting with a competitive one.

 

Correct.At the very least you're not going to see Lewis start out with the Twins on an opening day.He'll get the Kris Bryant treatment of a dozen days or so in the minors to make sure he doesn't get that first year of service time.Then it's just a matter of if the Twins hold him back till June to avoid the super-2 cutoff. 

    • 70charger and rileyroy like this

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