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Is Royce Lewis Baseball's Best Prospect?

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his much anticipated debut over the weekend. Many believe he could have been called up at the end of the 2018 campaign. Toronto took advantage of baseball’s rules and left him in minor league purgatory so the club could pick up an extra year of service time.

Vlad Jr. has been considered baseball’s top prospect, but now there is little reason to send him back to the minors. Some of baseball’s other top prospects have also been playing regularly at to start the season. Does this make Royce Lewis baseball’s best prospect?
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Royce Lewis)
Graduating Prospects
Besides Guerrero Jr., other top ranked prospects like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eloy Jimenez have been on their big league squads since the season started. Both of these top prospects have taken different routes to baseball’s highest level. That being said, both will be graduating from prospect lists early this season.

Jimenez signed a unique contact with the division rival White Sox this off-season. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the possibility of the Twins approaching Royce Lewis and/or Alex Kirilloff with a similar deal. With a deal like this, there was no reason to keep Jimenez in the minors. He was under contract and the team could let him play at the big league level.

Tatis Jr. was a surprise to make the Padres roster out of spring training. Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer took out Padres ownership to convince them to let the young prospect make the team. It was a smart move as the shortstop has been carrying their squad this season. Entering play on Monday, he’s batting .300 with a .910 OPS and 12 extra-base hits in 27 games.

Lewis’s Competition
Lewis is off to a slow start this season so there are plenty of other prospects challenging him for the top spot. Names like Alex Kirilloff, Wander Franco, and Nick Senzel have resumes that warrant consideration for baseball’s top prospect.

Twins fans are very familiar with Kirilloff and what he was able to do last season. At Twins Daily, he was named the Minor League Hitter of the Year. MiLB.com also awarded Kirilloff with the Breakout Prospect of the Year. His 71 extra-base hits and 296 total bases ranked as best in the minors. Unfortunately, he has missed time at the beginning of this season with a wrist injury.

Franco is 18-years old and he might be on pace to be a better prospect than Guerrero. He’s shown an advanced bat and he has all the makings of a five-tool superstar. Like Kirilloff, Senzel started the season battling an injury. He is starting the year at Triple-A, but he is close to big league ready. Senzel has been ranked as a top-10 prospect by multiple entities for the last three seasons.

Slow Start
Lewis hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire to start the season. Entering play on Monday, he has gone 17-for-87 (.195 BA) with three extra-base hits. His .538 OPS is 265 points lower than the OPS he compiled last season at Low- and High-A.

He’s 20-years old which still makes his 2.4 years younger than the competition in the Florida State League. The slow start shouldn’t be anything to be concerned about. He still has elite speed to go along with strong hitting acumen. Also, his defense seems like it might be string enough to stick at shortstop which would be a very positive thing.

Do you think Lewis is baseball’s best prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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30 Comments

He certainly has the talent to be in the discussion but so do others. I expect he'll be #1 on a few lists by the end of the year though. But Mize threw a no-hitter tonight in AA.

    • caninatl04 likes this
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Knuckleball9
Apr 29 2019 08:40 PM

Glad the Falvine saw something in this guy. I panned the pick as a cheap out but they grabbed Enlow with the savings... well done. Royce will pick it up but he's 2-3 best right now.

Ummm, no? I mean, not even in the discussion. I know it has only been a month, but you can't hit like that and be the top prospect, especially with only one full year of good results in the books.  

    • Thrylos, h2oface, mikelink45 and 3 others like this
I’d love a report on his fielding so far this year. Is his speed and range still truly elite? Sometimes young athletes lose a step as their body fills out. Notice he’s having poor early results in trying to steal bases this year.
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Kelly Vance
Apr 29 2019 09:15 PM

There is no BEST.

 

Its always a matter of opinion --- Montana, or Marino, Brees or Brady -- and bias creeps in. For me, he is damn good, and will get better.

 

That's worth something. 

    • Oldgoat_MN, DocBauer, PDX Twin and 1 other like this
I don't know how anyone can say he is, given the start to the year. Might he be? Sure. Are there players I would rather have? Probably, but I have to think about it, so maybe he is. But I bet with some digging I can find guys I'd rather have. So maybe not.
    • h2oface and birddog like this
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TheLeviathan
Apr 29 2019 09:40 PM

 

I don't know how anyone can say he is, given the start to the year. Might he be? Sure. Are there players I would rather have? Probably, but I have to think about it, so maybe he is. But I bet with some digging I can find guys I'd rather have. So maybe not.

 

I was looking after your comment and Lewis isn't alone.Tucker and Senzel are struggling too.

 

It's probably Rodgers for Colorado.He's raking in AAA and was 10th on MLB's top 100.Wander Franco has superstar written all over him too it seems.

In the top twenty, nearly all are in the majors or AAA or AA. They've been successful at higher levels. It's hard to say he's the best right now.

Frankly, the minors have added very little the last few years. It's an issue for sure.
    • caninatl04 likes this
Frankly, I think the article/debate is way too early. Pure talent, potential, the position he plays, he could easily be #1 before the season is done. Oh wait...his Twins-mate Kirilloff could be ranked even above him. It's an interesting debate, but one I think should be discussed about mid season or beyond.
    • mikelink45, caninatl04 and rdehring like this

High A, a level he already saw for a month and a half last year, and he starts like this? Nope. Is he a top prospect. Sure. Anoint him baseball's top prospect right now? No way. Anyway, all that doesn't happen again until mid season, does it?

    • Steve Lein likes this
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AlwaysinModeration
Apr 30 2019 03:41 AM
Actually, I think Kiriloff continues to rake and surpasses Lewis this year.
    • birddog and rdehring like this

Really looking forward to Kirilloff getting on the field this week to confirm he is now the best hitting machine in the minors.I thought there was a real chance he was the Twins top prospect last year.

 

As for Lewis, I recall he had some injury while playing for the Twins in an early spring training game.Is it possible he is battling a lingering injury and it is affecting his game?Haven't heard anyone talk about this, just trying to understand why he is struggling in the same league he did very well in last summer.

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diehardtwinsfan
Apr 30 2019 06:15 AM

I think this is too early to discuss personally... but if he wants to be in that dicussion, the bat needs to heat up. 

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

Actually, I think Kiriloff continues to rake and surpasses Lewis this year.

 

Nope. Love the Kiriloff potential, but Lewis is the Real Deal, with personality plus, playing at a premier position.

 

Lewis will be the face of the Twins in the next decade.

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MMMordabito
Apr 30 2019 07:13 AM

Wander Franco will be giving Lewis a run for his money.I hope they both realize their full potential.

It's probably Rodgers for Colorado. He's raking in AAA and was 10th on MLB's top 100.


Rodgers is a good prospect, but him raking in AAA might not boost his relative ranking much, as it is the PCL. He has a 1.025 OPS -- but his entire team has a .951 OPS!
    • caninatl04 and DannySD like this

 

I was looking after your comment and Lewis isn't alone.Tucker and Senzel are struggling too.

 

It's probably Rodgers for Colorado.He's raking in AAA and was 10th on MLB's top 100.Wander Franco has superstar written all over him too it seems.

 

Senzel just started playing, but he is definitely a candidate, and probably will be called up in a month or less. Rodgers is a good candidate.

 

Oh, and if anyone gets to Cedar Rapids the next few days, Wander Franco will be playing there...Saw him in Ft. Myers at spring training. He's got a pretty sweet swing.

Anyway, all that doesn't happen again until mid season, does it?


I think MLB might continually update their list to remove prospect graduations. But you're right, I wouldn't expect any big update / reordering until midseason.

 

Really looking forward to Kirilloff getting on the field this week to confirm he is now the best hitting machine in the minors.I thought there was a real chance he was the Twins top prospect last year.

 

As for Lewis, I recall he had some injury while playing for the Twins in an early spring training game.Is it possible he is battling a lingering injury and it is affecting his game?Haven't heard anyone talk about this, just trying to understand why he is struggling in the same league he did very well in last summer.

 

I don't' think the oblique injury is affecting him. He missed like 3 weeks of spring training though. That could factor into a slow start. With an oblique injury he wouldn't be able to swing the way he does without feeling it if there was something wrong. I think he's just off to a slow start in a pitcher's league. 

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Aerodeliria
Apr 30 2019 08:27 AM
You can play "D," but you still need to be able to hit. (I think the days of the Mark Belanger type shortstops is long gone.)

I think he needs time; he's probably pressing a bit right now.
    • mikelink45 likes this

I'd have Franco above him for sure, probably Mize and Gore as well. 

If he is or isn't it is certainly up for debate.  I am thankful that he plays for our organization.Just a gut feeling on my part (no special metrics etc to site) but I believe he is one of those players that will be special.Relax don't think too much...just play ball.Have a great year in the minors Royce and lets see where the chips fall next year,

And we return to the frequent discussion of how to value prospects.Potential?Current performance? Nearness to the Bigs?Does one prefer a five-tool prospect in A or a three-tool (say, hit, power, field) in AAA?

 

Does a team's "window" fit into it?Team needs?

    • mikelink45 likes this

I do not have an opinion on this because I do not value that ranking - I am pleased that he is a good prospect.Buxton was our number one and how long has it taken for him to be productive and starting to move towards stardom?What bothers me is that our top two (that ranking I do care about) have not produced.I am very anxious for Kiriloff to be back on the field.After losing one year already we really need to see him stay healthy and hopefully a Twin sometime in 2020.  

I had hoped that Lewis would be one of those professional teens - we have seen that in DC and Atlanta and other young guys are making their mark now too - like Tatis.But Lewis is not knocking the door down and that is what I would be expecting if he was really the number one prospect for all of MLB.

    • h2oface and Eris like this

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