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Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #1 SS Royce Lewis

Over the past two weeks, we have been counting down our Top 20 Minnesota Twins prospects. The system is remarkably deep but also contains some elite, high-ceiling talent. You've seen that the last few days, but today we announce that shortstop Royce Lewis is again the choice for the organization's Number 1 prospect.
Image courtesy of (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)
Age: 20 (DOB: 6-5-1999)
2019 Stats (GCL): 566 PA, .236/.290/.371, 26-2B, 4-3B, 12 HR, 49 RBI
ETA: 2021
2019 Ranking: 1

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 26 |MLB: 9 | ATH: 15 |BP: 21


What’s To Like
A lot.

Oh, you want more than that. OK, there’s plenty.



For the third straight year, Royce Lewis is the top Twins prospect according to Twins Daily, and most other Twins prospect rankings. And for Lewis, who doesn’t turn 21 until June, it’s still about the tools. In fact, among Twins prospects Baseball America ranked Lewis the Best Athlete, Fastest Baserunner and Best Power Hitter. That’s a pretty good starting point.

The surprise might be the Best Power Hitter, and yet Lewis has always had good strength. He’s got an approach and a swing that could be conducive to providing a lot of power. And, as Dan Hayes tweeted on Sunday afternoon, Lewis said he gained 25 pounds over the offseason. He ended the 2019 season at about 190 pounds. So, if he’s able to spend most of the 2020 season north of 200 pounds on his 6-2 frame, it should keep him strong throughout the season.



As impressive, he hasn’t lost any speed with his increased power. He remains one of the fastest players in the organization. More importantly, from a baseball standpoint, he also runs the bases well. He has been successful on 76% of his base stealing attempts. He goes from first to third, or to home, really well. It’s instinctive.


On defense, he has good range at shortstop. Due to the logistics of the Arizona Fall League rosters, Lewis had the opportunity to play other positions beyond shortstop. He had played a lot of third base in high school, and plays it well. He got some time at second base. He also showed really good range in center field as well. While he got nearly 1000 innings at shortstop during the season with a fielding percentage of 95%. He is capable of making the great play, though sometimes he has struggled with more routine plays. Having that versatility will be important for Lewis and the Twins as we don’t know where the Twins will have a need when Lewis is deemed ready.




What’s Left To Work On
There is no denying that 2019 was a disappointing season offensively for the Twins top prospect. He hit just .236 across two levels and got on base just 29% of his 566 plate appearances. He struck out 123 times and walked just 38 times. He will have to control the strike zone better. Many also continue to question the big leg kick that he employs.

There are also still questions (or at least varying opinions) on whether or not he can stay at shortstop. While I think that he can, at this stage it may simply depend on Jorge Polanco’s continued development at shortstop, or Byron Buxton’s ability to stay on the field, or Luis Arraez’s ability to avoid a sophomore slump. Consistency will be the key for Lewis, and then about opportunity.


What’s Next
After playing 94 games for the Miracle last year, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he played 33 more games (and a couple of playoff series). He will begin the 2020 season with the Blue Wahoos, likely with many of the other Twins top prospects who also ended 2019 there. In fact, it is likely that the Twins updated Top 6 prospects will all begin the season in Florida’s panhandle.


Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
Honorable Mentions
20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
19. Cole Sands, RHP
18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
17. Misael Urbina, OF
16. Edwar Colina, RP
15. Matt Canterino, RHP
14. Matt Wallner, OF
13. Wander Javier, SS
12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
9. Brent Rooker, OF
8. Keoni Cavaco, SS
7. Ryan Jeffers, C
6. Jhoan Duran, RHP
5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP
4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
3. Trevor Larnach, OF
2. Alex Kirilloff, OF
1. Royce Lewis, SS

---------------------------------------------------------

Get to know more about Royce Lewis and about another 170 minor league players including each of our Top 20 Prospects (and two Dodgers prospects) in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $14.99)

ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $9.99)

The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.

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34 Comments

Seth, thank you for these informative write ups.

I have read several articles over the past two or three weeks commenting on Lewis’ swing. Here’s one from Fangraphs.

https://blogs.fangra...y-high-ceiling/

I think the general conclusion is that his swing needs to be modified for the big leagues. Remembering the two lost years modifying Buxton’s swing, I am curious as to why the Twins are not taking a more proactive approach and modifying his swing while he is in the minors.
    • PDX Twin likes this

Lewis hit .243/.302/.384 (.685 OPS) in 626 PAs at Fort Myers over 2018 and 2019... I just don't know how you can consider him your top prospect when he's looked so bad at the plate and apparently "needs to fix his swing". I know he's young for the league, and I know he's got all the tools outside of that... but isn't a player's ceiling in the majors usually what he did in the minors? 

 

Lewis still has a long ways to go and it's way too early to call him a bust, but I'm concerned. 

    • USAFChief, h2oface, mikelink45 and 3 others like this

 

Seth, thank you for these informative write ups.

I have read several articles over the past two or three weeks commenting on Lewis’ swing. Here’s one from Fangraphs.

https://blogs.fangra...y-high-ceiling/

I think the general conclusion is that his swing needs to be modified for the big leagues. Remembering the two lost years modifying Buxton’s swing, I am curious as to why the Twins are not taking a more proactive approach and modifying his swing while he is in the minors.

 

Remember it took Buxton going back to hitting his own way for him to experience his best success.

 

Lewis will have to make some adjustments, but I think they're just that. Minor adjustments. And I do think working with and talking to guys like Donaldson and others will help too. 

    • Monkeypaws, mikelink45 and MN_ExPat like this

 

Lewis hit .243/.302/.384 (.685 OPS) in 626 PAs at Fort Myers over 2018 and 2019... I just don't know how you can consider him your top prospect when he's looked so bad at the plate and apparently "needs to fix his swing". I know he's young for the league, and I know he's got all the tools outside of that... but isn't a player's ceiling in the majors usually what he did in the minors? 

 

Lewis still has a long ways to go and it's way too early to call him a bust, but I'm concerned. 

He didn't hit well in AA, either (148 PAs).But boy did he kill it in the AFL in nearly a 100 plate appearances. 

 

Ft. Myers, of course, is a notoriously unfriendly league to hitters.This, combined with the low sample size in the other two leagues, suggests we should look at his stat line with a great deal of suspicion.  

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SF Twins Fan
Feb 18 2020 10:51 PM

Lewis hit .243/.302/.384 (.685 OPS) in 626 PAs at Fort Myers over 2018 and 2019... I just don't know how you can consider him your top prospect when he's looked so bad at the plate and apparently "needs to fix his swing". I know he's young for the league, and I know he's got all the tools outside of that... but isn't a player's ceiling in the majors usually what he did in the minors? 
 
Lewis still has a long ways to go and it's way too early to call him a bust, but I'm concerned.


He also started the season with an oblique injury that probably had something to do with his poor numbers.

 

Ft. Myers, of course, is a notoriously unfriendly league to hitters. 

 

Larnach says, "What?"

    • Seth Stohs, Danchat, Monkeypaws and 6 others like this
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Richard Swerdlick
Feb 19 2020 04:33 AM

He may have had a tough year hitting at A+ and AA, but he sure broke out in the Arizona Fall League.

Larnach says, "What?"


Same with Kirilloff...

I may look silly in the future, but I am off the Royce Lewis bandwagon. If he can be sold high for a young stud pitcher I do it this year.
    • USAFChief, h2oface, alphanumeric and 3 others like this

Like so many of the posts I am just not as high on Lewis as I once was.I would have Balazovic number one and Duran number two and Jeffers three because I have a bias towards those I think will have the most impact on the Twins.Larnach and Kiriloff profile as DH based on the descriptions, but one should take Eddie's place when the team deems him too expensive.  

Will Lewis take Polanco's place?How much better is his glove?He does not show the same bat ability.Will he take Arraez place?Arraez, if he keeps his rookie momentum showed that the management really liked what he can do.Will he take Buxton's place?Seems more like Celestino if CF.  

 

I am making a case for trade bait or a longer MiBL than I had expected in previous years.

    • DannySD likes this

I have Kirilloff as my number 1 with Lewis second and Larnach a very close third. 

 

Over the course of the winter and the voting over at TT, have gone towards merging ceiling with the likelihood of the player reaching it.I think that Lewis has the highest ceiling.I believe, however, that Kirilloff is more likely to approach/reach his ceiling which is also very high based on his potentially being the best hitter in the organization.That puts Kirilloff ahead of Lewis in my mind.

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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howieramone2
Feb 19 2020 08:28 AM
His versatility should keep him #1. Falvey values depth. With Lewis we can move a top prospect to 3 or 4 different positions.

Our Rankings:

 

Everyone: #1.

 

Still a fairly easy choice, at least in my opinion... 

    • goulik, mikelink45, Sconnie and 2 others like this

 

Our Rankings:

 

Everyone: #1.

 

Still a fairly easy choice, at least in my opinion... 

It is fun to see how us readers respond to your choices.I understand Lewis having all those intangibles, but for many of us who are not as invested as you are Lewis just has not given us the kind of year that inspires.It is like the discussion on Wander Javier who I would not have on the list at all.They are at different levels, but those of you who are closer to the situation give us articles to challenge our perspectives and I appreciate that. 

    • Tomj14, MN_ExPat and EPEZRider like this

I'm still on the Royce Lewis train. the tools are all there, and I love that his speed plays as a baserunner; I'm of the opinion that stolen bases are undervalued in MLB with this focus on station-to-station baseball and home run output. Players who can put pressure on defense with their speed and baserunning have under-valued utility.

 

the swing is a bit of a concern, but he certainly didn't have any problems with it in the AFL. Let's see how he does with a full year in AA and a little tinkering. A maturing body and plenty of ABs against high value pitchers could be exactly what he needs.

 

I think the future is really high on him either as a SS or a CF. Anyone who wants him in a deal is going to have to give up a top of the rotation starter under contract/control for more than 1 year. I can live with trading him if the deal is there to really go for the title; I can't live with getting a mid-rotation starter and an A-ball lottery ticket.

    • birdwatcher, DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this
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puckstopper1
Feb 19 2020 11:26 AM

 

Our Rankings:

 

Everyone: #1.

 

Still a fairly easy choice, at least in my opinion... 

 

Seth -

 

THANK YOU for the great work on these, as usual.

 

BTW - you had Lewis as "2019 Ranking: NR" in the article.  

 

Probably should update that... :-)

    • Seth Stohs likes this

 

It is fun to see how us readers respond to your choices.I understand Lewis having all those intangibles, but for many of us who are not as invested as you are Lewis just has not given us the kind of year that inspires.It is like the discussion on Wander Javier who I would not have on the list at all.They are at different levels, but those of you who are closer to the situation give us articles to challenge our perspectives and I appreciate that. 

 

Yeah, prospect rankings are definitely not about the stat lines. It's about potential and ceilings... but at the same time, as a player moves up, stats could mean a little bit more. Five tool guys become 3-tool guys as they move up and get exposed. It's definitely not a science. 

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

Yeah, prospect rankings are definitely not about the stat lines. It's about potential and ceilings... but at the same time, as a player moves up, stats could mean a little bit more. Five tool guys become 3-tool guys as they move up and get exposed. It's definitely not a science. 

 

It might mean that 5 tool guys were never 5 tool guys, and were overrated. 

    • D.C Twins likes this

 

It might mean that 5 tool guys were never 5 tool guys, and were overrated. 

 

There are lots of 5-tool prospects... there aren't a lot of 5-tool MLB players. 

    • SQUIRREL, mikelink45, DocBauer and 1 other like this

I like Royce for who he is - solid dude.

    • DocBauer likes this

After this year could see Lewis starting his MLB career as supersub, backing up SS, 2B, 3B, and OF. Taking Gonzolez and Adrianza's place, Rocco likes to get his players rest, plenty of PT for someone as versatile as Lewis. Hope he figures his swing out and keeps improving.

    • mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

Unlike several posters, I am on the Royce Lewis bandwagon. I believe he will have a big year in the minors and force his way up.

Same with Kirilloff. Those two studs will not be held down all season.

    • DocBauer likes this
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FlauerPauer
Feb 19 2020 04:11 PM

I think he profiles as a great piece to highlight a trade for that stud pitcher the Twins so desperately need.

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birdwatcher
Feb 19 2020 07:54 PM

 

There are lots of 5-tool prospects... there aren't a lot of 5-tool MLB players. 

 

 

To me, the distinction is between athletic talent (tools) and skills, which are sometimes developed and sometimes not. And sometimes, that tools-to-skills gap remains open through no fault of anyone but the player. Say howdy to Delmon Young for example.

 

I think that's why in large part talent evaluators pay attention to "makeup".

    • Vanimal46 and D.C Twins like this
Considering position player vs pitcher, the value of a quality rotation arm, much less a top of the rotation arm, I think you could easily shuffle the top 5 and be right. (Taking Graterol our of the rankings). And I have no problem with that.

But I do think souring on Lewis, or Kiriloff, after off 2019 seasons is silly. You have professional scouting at the HS level and general consensus that each is a special and top talent. You have quality pro results. You flash and have great numbers, then you get a little dinged up and have a down or so-so season and suddenly you just aren't as good as you were expected/hoped to be.

Kiriloff basically raked again when healthy in 2019. Lewis went to the AFL, healthy, and while SSS, theoretically played against competition as good or better than what he faced during the season. And he was the best player there. Not everyone is the next Griffey Jr, Trout or Harper.
    • birdwatcher likes this

This is just a huge, huge year for Lewis.

 

Tools or not, by any metric, he had an awful season (a strike out to walk ratio of 3:1 stands out most to me which really should have nothing to do with the batting in Florida)

 

The majority of scouting reports that I have seen are concerned about his swing as he moves up in difficulty.

 

Most, if not all (I'm open to examples) MLB superstars did not endure such a disaster of a season in the low/mid minors.

 

Yes he is young, yes there was a glimmer of hope in the small sample size of the AFL, yes he is a wonderful human being by all accounts, BUT a sustained poor performancein A ball IS concerning for an overall#1 pick.

 

This is SUCHa big year for him....and I am SO rooting for him!

    • birdwatcher and Vanimal46 like this

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