Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #1 Royce Lewis
Image courtesy of Linwood Ferguson (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999)
2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB
2018 Ranking: 1
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6
What’s To Like
A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more.
HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers.
He is aggressive and yet he rarely takes a swing that looks out of control. He doesn’t strike out real often (15.0% in Cedar Rapids and 16.8% in Ft. Myers). He will use the whole field, though he typically has shown much more power to his pull side. Very few hit .300 in MLB anymore, but he could be a .280-.300 type of hitter.
HIT FOR POWER - Through the first 32 games of the season, Lewis was hitting .305, but he had just four doubles and one home run. Many were clamoring for him to be promoted to Ft. Myers because he had spent 18 games with the Kernels to end 2017. Over his next 43 games with the Kernels, the power arrived. He hit .323, but he added 19 doubles and eight home runs. He earned his promotion to the Miracle, and while he struggled some, he showed really good power in the pitcher-friendly parks for the Florida State League. In 46 games, he hit six doubles, three triples and knocked five home runs. (For comparison’s sake, Alex Kirilloff had seven homers in 65 games for the Miracle) While 30 home runs may be excessive, but Lewis could be a 20-25 homer per year guy during his big league career.
SPEED - Byron Buxton. Who is the one player in the Twins organization who might - might! - be faster than Royce Lewis. As important as the pure speed, Lewis knows how to utilize his speed on the baseball diamond. His 28 stolen bases led the organization. He was caught just eight times and he is still learning the finer points. He is able to go from first-to-home or first-to-third really well. He also shows good instincts most of the time on the bases. He also uses his speed on defense.
DEFENSE - Lewis has good range both up the middle and deep into the 5.5 hole. There are times when he winds up (no, not like Shawon Dunston for those of you who are in my age category) a little bit. He does a really nice job going back on pop ups and he takes leadership on the infield, another important trait for a shortstop.
Tom Froemming put Lewis's defense under the Prospect Spotlight. Take a look below. In the video, I was at the game in Cedar Rapids when he made the running catch down the left field line. First, it reminded me of Derek Jeter, but when he caught it and knew it was a great catch, he had a Griffey Jr-like smile.
ARM - Lewis has a strong arm. He can make all of the throws. For those that think his future may be better out in center field, he has plenty of arm to play out there.
INTANGIBLES - Lewis is a natural leader. By that I mean that he doesn’t have to work to lead, but teammates gravitate to him. He has a great charisma that plays well on the field and in the clubhouse. Lewis works hard. He added weight last season through a regimented lifting program in-season. He’s got good size. He’s tall and he’s strong but he has added the size and strength without losing any speed. In addition, Lewis never takes a play off. He hustles out every grounder. He looks to take second on singles to the outfield. He has instincts.
And while some may not think that it matters, but when you watch Royce Lewis play baseball and practice, you can see the joy that he has, the love of the game. It is an intangible, but it is one of the reasons that Francisco Lindor is so much fun to watch and cheer for even if he is on the Twins top competitor.
What’s Left To Work On
The easy response for Lewis as far as things he needs to work out would be the cliche, “He needs to continue working on everything” or “He just needs more at-bats” or “He just needs more real-time situations on defense.”
Well, let’s just say that cliches usually become cliches for a reason, because they’re true. Lewis does simply need more at-bats. He needs to continue working up the ladder and seeing pitchers with better command of their pitch mix. He needs to see more sharp sliders down and away so that he can keep working on trying to lay off of them.
There are still question marks about Lewis’s defense. While I’ve talked to several people who saw him play in 2018 that said he took big strides and there is more of a certainty that he can be at least an average defensive shortstop. There are still some scouts who think that his speed and instinct would best play in center field. Lewis can make the great play. As noted, he has great range and can make the great plays. He just needs to keep working and be more consistent on the routine plays and the routine throws. Again, needs more time at shortstop and more opportunities.
What makes Lewis so exciting as a prospect is that he does everything so well already. But what makes him so intriguing is knowing that he can still improve all areas of his game (even quite a bit in some places). While he is ahead of the pace at this point in this career than top young shortstops Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, the Twins can be as patient as they need to be.
Royce Lewis is traveling to Ft. Myers today and will report as a non-roster invite to Minnesota Twins spring training. He will get the opportunity to work with and learn from the veterans, and also work with and be seen by the big-league coaches.
With just 46 games in High-A Ft. Myers, plus a playoff run that that led to a Florida State League championship, it is likely that he will begin the season with the Miracle. It is very likely that he will spend most of his season with the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola.
While I think that the odds are low that Lewis surfaces in the big leagues in 2019, I wouldn’t put anything past him. With Jorge Polanco now signed long-term, Jonathan Schoop set to spend the year in a Twins uniform, and Nick Gordon in Triple A, the Twins do not need to rush this talented prospect in 2019. I would not be surprised if Lewis is the Twins Opening Day shortstop and #2 hitter when they open the 2020 season (though being promoted 20 days later might make more economic sense).
Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects
20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
18. LaMonte Wade, OF
17. Zack Littell, RHP
16. Gilberto Celestino, OF
15. Yunior Severino, 2B
14. Ben Rortvedt, C
13. Ryan Jeffers, C
12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
11. Nick Gordon, SS
10. Akil Baddoo, OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF
5. Wander Javier, SS
4. Trevor Larnach, OF
3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
2. Alex Kirilloff, OF
TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis
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