Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #1 Royce Lewis
Age: 18 (DOB: 6/5/99)
2017 Stats (Rookie/Low-A): 239 PA, .279/.381/.407, 4 HR, 27 RBI
2017 Ranking: NA
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 24 | MLB: 20 | ESPN: 25 | BP: 27
What's To Like
It's tough to weigh things like disposition and character in prospect evaluations, especially from afar. Clearly they matter, but to to what extent? And how can you really quantify such intangible and subjective qualities?
It's easier to focus on the concrete and palpable: skills, athleticism, body type. And in each of these areas, Lewis grades out beautifully. But you can't really talk about him as a player without mentioning his striking composure.
You can plainly see from watching him talk that the 18-year-old, not a year removed from high school, is unusually sharp and eloquent for his age. He was invited to appear at TwinsFest in January, a rarity for freshly drafted teenagers but a no-brainer in his case. Upon being selected first overall last June, he stashed his $6.7 million signing bonus in a trust fund, opting to live off his modest minor-league wage and foregoing the typical flashy celebratory splurge.
“This guy has a chance to change a franchise with his personality and charisma,” said Twins scouting director Sean Johnson upon selecting Lewis. “He’s a magnet. People want to be around him.”
Count Lewis's first manager in the system, Ramon Borrego, as a believer. Er, unbeliever.
“He’s unbelievable," said the Gulf Coast League skipper. "He knows how to focus. The good thing about him, is he’s very humble. This kid is different."
Personality. Charisma. Focus. Humility.
These are good traits in that they project a leader and high-caliber clubhouse presence. But they're also overprescribed and, at times, overblown. It's about what you can do on the field.
Fortunately, Lewis's intellect and acumen extend there as well. He's lauded for his baseball IQ, grasping the game's complexities naturally. He recognizes his own weaknesses and limitations in a way you don't often see.
When you ask around, you hear the same thing about Lewis repeatedly: He gets it. He's not presumptive or entitled, and anyone can see it. He's also a realist:
"They told me to play at short until I prove I can't," Lewis said last month, candidly adding: "I know I can always transition to center field and play at a high level."
Regardless of where he ends up defensively, he figures to be an asset with his top-end speed (he's no Byron Buxton, but he's not that far off) and smooth movements.
Lewis's hitting tools are advanced, which was made obvious by his bat's seamless entry into the pro ranks. Lewis posted an .803 OPS in the GCL, with more walks than strikeouts, and impressed the organization so much he was promoted straight to Cedar Rapids in August. He ended up being the third-youngest player to take an AB in the Midwest League.
Despite facing opponents nearly three years older on average, Lewis more than held his own, batting .296/.363/.394. He finished 18-for-21 on stolen bases between the two levels.
The No. 1 pick is a speedy, selective, disciplined contact hitter, and prospect analysts are unanimous in believing that more power – perhaps much more – is on the way as he fills out.
Once that element of his game arrives, Lewis could become the true embodiment of a five-tool player.
What's Left To Work On
Adding muscle mass will be a key area of focus in the next couple of seasons. Lewis checked in last year at 6'2" and under 190 lbs.
"I feel like I haven't grown into any of my man strength yet," as he puts it.
He's already well on his way to bulking up, having reportedly added around 15 pounds in the offseason. It would be no surprise to see a rapid uptick in power, which would place him on a mind-boggling trajectory offensively.
The more interesting thing to track right now is his defensive development. The Cali native didn't play shortstop until his senior year of high school, and was – according to ESPN's Keith Law – "well-below-average" at the position as a prep. Lewis showed reasonably well at short in his pro debut, but the jury is out, to say the least.
If his efforts in the weight room lead to improved arm strength, that could change this outlook.
"I'm patient. I'm still only 18 and don't turn 19 until June." More astute words from the man himself.
Patience is warranted. Lewis is the best player on our Top 20 list but also the youngest. He finds himself on the fast track after tackling Low-A within three months of being drafted, but the Twins will probably take it somewhat slow with him, even if he forces the issue on his end.
For comparison, Buxton – who hardly could have performed better during his rapid ascent through the minors – didn't reach the majors until three years and eight days after his draft date. That same timeline would put Lewis in a Twins uniform around June of 2020.
However, Lewis is already ahead of Buxton's pace, and Buck also lost nearly an entire season in the minors to injury. So, who knows.
Right now Lewis has a fair shot at beating the precedent set by Buxton, and possibly even fellow first overall pick Joe Mauer, who first donned a Minnesota uniform at age 20, on the third Opening Day after he was drafted.
If Lewis remains on a fast track and moves to center along the way, as many expect, it's going to create an interesting dilemma given Buxton's presence. But that's a dilemma the Twins will be happy to have on their hands.
TD Top Prospects: 16-20
TD Top Prospects: 11-15
TD Top Prospect: #10 Akil Baddoo
TD Top Prospect: #9 Brusdar Graterol
TD Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow
TD Top Prospects: #7 Brent Rooker
TD Top Prospects: #6 Wander Javier
TD Top Prospects: #5 Alex Kirilloff
TD Top Prospects: #4 Stephen Gonsalves
TD Top Prospects: #3 Nick Gordon
TD Top Prospects: #2 Fernando Romero
TD Top Prospects: #1 Royce Lewis
- Cory Engelhardt, Danchat and mikelink45 like this