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Max Kepler: Trade or Keep?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:07 PM
Kepler was a popular trade piece in our hypothetical offers to acquire better talent over the last year or so. People in the industry lik...
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Article: 5 Things the Twins Absolutely Must Accomplish Th...

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Week 3: Vikings vs. Bills

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Article: Across the Meadow: The Buxton Saga

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:34 PM
John and Jeremy cover every angle of the Twins decision to not bring Byron Buxton up in September. At a minimum, it's a curious decision....
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Interview With Twins #1 Draft Choice Royce Lewis

When the Major League Baseball draft commenced in early June, the only certainty was that the Minnesota Twins would make the first selection. As the dust settled and prep phenom Royce Lewis was the pick, Minnesota immediately had a new name atop their prospect rankings.
Image courtesy of William Parmeter
Lewis, a star shortstop and outfielder, is regarded as being the most polished high school position prospect in the draft. Noted for his maturity as well as his athleticism, he should immediately step into the Twins system and find success. I had the privilege of catching up with him following the draft, and touched on a few different subjects to get to know him a bit better.
Here's what he had to say:

Off The Baggy: What was your draft day experience like?

Royce Lewis: I was in Studio City, CA at my grandparents house with my family. We went into the day without expectations, just excited about the potential opportunity.

OTB: Did you have an inclination early in the day the Twins might be looking to take you at 1/1?

RL: I absolutely did not have any idea that the Twins would select me. I had many conversations with them, however I had conversations with all of the teams. I never doubted my abilities and what I could bring to an organization, but you just never know what will happen, what a team is looking for, or what their needs are.

OTB: Playing both shortstop and the outfield, your athleticism shines on the diamond. What do you feel your strengths are at both positions? Do you prefer one?

RL: I am very athletic with great speed and reactions. Having baseball instincts and the ability to read the ball off the bat well, I have an edge to make plays that others may not at both positions. I have never had much formal training at either position. Basically I have relied on my athleticism to do things take over, so with daily training at either or both (positions) I am excited to see where it takes me. I love being up the middle because I feel I can help the team at both, however I prefer shortstop because I feel that I am a natural leader and at shortstop I am able to be involved more in the game. The position is naturally a position which is a leader on the field, so I would be able to help the team to get wins and championships.

OTB: Tell us about your hitting approach? Are you a gap power guy, or is speed on the basepaths your thing?

RL: My approach to hitting is that I look for a pitch to drive. I believe I can offer all three: power, gap to gap, and speed. I just turned 18 on June 5th and have not reached my full potential or growth. Again I look forward to the daily training and facing the best pitching teams have to offer. I feel I am at my best when being challenged. One of my strengths as a hitter is that I am very good with two strikes.

OTB: Making the jump from high school to the professional ranks, what do you see being your biggest challenge? What will help to set you apart?

RL: My biggest challenge will be playing with the best of the best every day, but this is my dream and I look forward to working hard to challenge myself to always try to be better than the day before. Everything only happens with determination and hard work and I am determined and will work hard every day, this is what will set me apart. The fact that I am always a student of the game, whether I am in the game or watching others play, there is always an opportunity to learn something which will help better my game.

OTB: Being from California, what is your knowledge of Minnesota and the Twins organization? Have you been to Target Field previously?

RL: I had never been to Minnesota before the Twins organization flew my family and me out for the weekend. It is such a beautiful and clean city. I love that the fan base is so big with Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding areas. It is great that the Twin Cities have 6 professional teams in one area (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, and women's basketball), so many cool things to be a part of and support. My family and I love the state motto "Minnesota Nice." I feel that I will fit in perfect with that as I am a nice guy who will give everything I have to be successful in all that I do while helping others along the way. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization. Target Field was incredible, it is one of the best stadiums I have been in and I love that you can maneuver through the downtown area in the skyways without going outside. That is really cool, we do NOT have stuff like that in California!

OTB: Who's a pro player, past or present, that you may have modeled your game after or look up to?

RL: I have always looked up to Derek Jeter because he played the game the right way both on and off the field. I also look to Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor because they are really really good and always seem to be enjoying the game and making it fun! When you love what you do, you will be more successful at what you are doing no matter what it is and for me it is the game of baseball. However, I really hope to just be me, to be "Royce Lewis" and hopefully one day people will look to be like me because I am a great person and player who makes the game fun in all the right ways. It is good to look to others for advice and tips to better yourself but in the end you have to be you and make you.... "the best you can be"!!!

With a long journey ahead, Royce appears to have a great head on his shoulders, and be well positioned to climb through the organization. As the GCL season gets underway, Twins fans will have a chance to see it begin to come together. 
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

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18 Comments

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Bob Sacamento
Jun 26 2017 01:00 PM

Let the legend begin, first pro at bat, first homerun

    • Sssuperdave, JustinCB, nytwinsfan and 1 other like this

 

Let the legend begin, first pro at bat, first homerun

Did that really happen? I'm not finding it.

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Sssuperdave
Jun 26 2017 01:55 PM

 

Did that really happen? I'm not finding it.

 Yup, happened today in the bottom of the 1st:

 

GCL Twins Bottom of the 1st

Akil Baddoo grounds out, second baseman Jaime Estrada to first baseman J. C. Escarra.
Royce Lewis homers (1) on a fly ball to center field.
Victor Tademo called out on strikes.
Jared Akins strikes out swinging.

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Sssuperdave
Jun 26 2017 01:58 PM

So after today's game Royce has a triple slash of .500/.500/1.250 (1.750) 

 

Let the promotion calls begin!  ;)

 

    • diehardtwinsfan, Dman and nytwinsfan like this
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Parker Hageman
Jun 26 2017 02:31 PM

 

 

Love the umpire's hustle, but ... wow ... he is the anti-Buxton!

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Celebrity Weddings!
Jun 26 2017 03:13 PM

He seems like a thoughtful kid. Though he's going to have to learn to be a little bit less diplomatic, calling Target Field "one of" the best stadiums he's seen.

 

He seems like a thoughtful kid. Though he's going to have to learn to be a little bit less diplomatic, calling Target Field "one of" the best stadiums he's seen.

He needs a bit more salt in his life.

Nice.  As much as shorter-term pitching help would have been nice, it is fun to have a top young position prospect to follow for a few years.  Pretty cool of him to homer in his debut.  Javier better watch his back, or the tables will get turned.

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Bob Sacamento
Jun 27 2017 01:00 PM

 

Nice.  As much as shorter-term pitching help would have been nice, it is fun to have a top young position prospect to follow for a few years.  Pretty cool of him to homer in his debut.  Javier better watch his back, or the tables will get turned.

I don't know about that, of the two, Javier is more likely staying in the infield either at SS or 3B.  In a year (definitely two), I'd bet strong money that Lewis is in CF.  One scout who recently saw him said he's "too fast to waste in the infield".  And a certain former first round pitcher agrees that Royce's future lies in the outfield.

    • Han Joelo and Mike Sixel like this

 

I don't know about that, of the two, Javier is more likely staying in the infield either at SS or 3B.  In a year (definitely two), I'd bet strong money that Lewis is in CF.  One scout who recently saw him said he's "too fast to waste in the infield".  And a certain former first round pitcher agrees that Royce's future lies in the outfield.

 

Is Trea Turner too fast for the infield? I get the concept....

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Bob Sacamento
Jun 27 2017 05:45 PM

 

Is Trea Turner too fast for the infield? I get the concept....

Billy Hamilton was the scout's example but yeah I know  what you're saying.  Turner had college experience at a big time school that definitely helped him develop and stay at short.  The scout's point is with speed that fast, Lewis can get to balls that no one else can, pretty much what Buxton is doing now. That Lewis' SS defensive game would have to be a plus to get the same effect as his plus-plus defense at CF. 

 

Billy Hamilton was the scout's example but yeah I know  what you're saying.  Turner had college experience at a big time school that definitely helped him develop and stay at short.  The scout's point is with speed that fast, Lewis can get to balls that no one else can, pretty much what Buxton is doing now. That Lewis' SS defensive game would have to be a plus to get the same effect as his plus-plus defense at CF. 

 

Oh, I was just being snarky, Bob.

 

I get the concept, and agree that it would be nice to have that much speed in the OF over SS. I just want him to be good, because they passed on three legit SPs, imo.

I love Californians. If I had a dollar for every time someone visited in the summer - yeah, come back in January...but that's just me being snarky. Welcome to Minnesota, Royce.  

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Bob Sacamento
Jun 28 2017 12:32 PM

 

Oh, I was just being snarky, Bob.

 

I get the concept, and agree that it would be nice to have that much speed in the OF over SS. I just want him to be good, because they passed on three legit SPs, imo.

As a Cubs fan who went thru several early round draft selections over the years, all I can tell you is trust that the new FO knows what they are doing.  When asked about drafting success, I believe Theo Epstein had remarked the team studies showed that positional players are easier to evaluate in the draft process then pitching.  The volatility of SP is just so rampant in the draft that there is a higher likelihood that the positional players pans out more than said pitcher.  And always remember with a plethora of positional players, they can be dealt for pitching. 

 

As a Cubs fan who went thru several early round draft selections over the years, all I can tell you is trust that the new FO knows what they are doing.  When asked about drafting success, I believe Theo Epstein had remarked the team studies showed that positional players are easier to evaluate in the draft process then pitching.  The volatility of SP is just so rampant in the draft that there is a higher likelihood that the positional players pans out more than said pitcher.  And always remember with a plethora of positional players, they can be dealt for pitching. 

 

the cubs can sign Jon Lester, you counting on the Twins doing that?

 

Theo also has a history of making trades, this FO had 1 job this off season, and demand or not, could not trade Brian Dozier. so, I'll wait and see what they do before I trust them. And, their choices for the bullpen aren't inspiring me much.

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Bob Sacamento
Jun 28 2017 01:46 PM

 

the cubs can sign Jon Lester, you counting on the Twins doing that?

 

Theo also has a history of making trades, this FO had 1 job this off season, and demand or not, could not trade Brian Dozier. so, I'll wait and see what they do before I trust them. And, their choices for the bullpen aren't inspiring me much.

Theo was able to make the trades because he had the parts to deal from expiring contracts and one year contracts to playoff contenders.  He also got extremely lucky or had scouts that were great evaluators.  In a two year stretch they dealt SP Scott Feldman who they signed as a reclamation project for a soon to be released SP Jake Arrieta and sputtering pen arm in Pedro Strop. They traded SP Jeff Samardzija's expiring contract and SP Jason Hammel (who they signed as a reclamation project) for prospects SS Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney and SP Dan Straily.  Ryan Dempster's expiring contract netted SP Kyle Hendricks and 3B Christian Villeneva. SP Matt Garza's expiring contract netted RP Carl Edwards Jr, RP Justin Grimm and 3B Mike Olt.  But the one that got it all going was trading their "ace" cost controlled pitcher SP Andrew Cashner to the Padres for the sputtering 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo. The overall trend in those deals other than Epstein winning in Hindsight was that the Cubs dealt pitching over and over again especially ones they were not going to keep in the future.

 

Honestly the worst thing that happened to the Twins was starting off the season hot and playing in 1st place for so long in 2017.  It would make it much more palatable to deal off Ervin Santana and Brian Dozier and other spare parts if the team was at .500 or below.  But barring a complete implosion in July that's not going to happen which in turn hurts the team in the future.

    • Mike Sixel, 70charger and twinssouth like this

 

Theo was able to make the trades because he had the parts to deal from expiring contracts and one year contracts to playoff contenders.  He also got extremely lucky or had scouts that were great evaluators.  In a two year stretch they dealt SP Scott Feldman who they signed as a reclamation project for a soon to be released SP Jake Arrieta and sputtering pen arm in Pedro Strop. They traded SP Jeff Samardzija's expiring contract and SP Jason Hammel (who they signed as a reclamation project) for prospects SS Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney and SP Dan Straily.  Ryan Dempster's expiring contract netted SP Kyle Hendricks and 3B Christian Villeneva. SP Matt Garza's expiring contract netted RP Carl Edwards Jr, RP Justin Grimm and 3B Mike Olt.  But the one that got it all going was trading their "ace" cost controlled pitcher SP Andrew Cashner to the Padres for the sputtering 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo. The overall trend in those deals other than Epstein winning in Hindsight was that the Cubs dealt pitching over and over again especially ones they were not going to keep in the future.

 

Honestly the worst thing that happened to the Twins was starting off the season hot and playing in 1st place for so long in 2017.  It would make it much more palatable to deal off Ervin Santana and Brian Dozier and other spare parts if the team was at .500 or below.  But barring a complete implosion in July that's not going to happen which in turn hurts the team in the future.

 

failing the marshmallow test for sure.....


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