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Front Page: Twins AFL Report - Week 1: Royce Rollin'

royce lewis dakota chalmers ben rortvedt luke raley zach neff
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#1 Steve Lein

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 08:42 PM

The first week of the AFL season is in the books, and boy was it a good one from one of the games' top prospects. After somewhat of a down year with his bat, Royce Lewis showed there’s still a lot of promise there with multiple big games. He also showed off his defensive chops with a spectacular catch…as an outfielder. In addition to Lewis’ big week, a pitcher also made a strong impression in his first start, and a catcher continued to show why he’s so highly regarded as a defensive backstop.Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season!

(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall)

Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season.

Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other.

He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day.

In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run:


After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game.

In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run:


Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall)

Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety.

Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall)

Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game.

In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made.

I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year.

Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall)

Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week.

In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game.

In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note.

Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall).

Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings.

He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding.

Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall).

The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out.

In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4.

Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall).

The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center.

Other AFL and Minor League Links:

-MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona.

-For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline:


Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!

Click here to view the article
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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#2 glunn

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 09:08 PM

Great article. Lewis seem to making the most of this opportunity.

 

It also sounds like there are a lot of fielding errors by our AFL affiliate.

 

 

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#3 arby58

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 06:42 AM

Makes sense to move Lewis around, as Polanco is going to stay in the line-up and Arraez looks like the second baseman. Lewis is still likely a year away, at which point Cron's contract expires, and they could move Sano to first and Lewis plays third. Or, if Buxton can't get past his chronic injury issues, he could be in the outfield.

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#4 rdehring

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 07:16 AM

Thanks, Steve.

 

I recall hearing several years ago that a high percentage of players from the AFL go on to play in the big leagues the following year.Don't remember the percentage, but it was higher than I would have guessed.With Lewis beginning his fall as one of the stars, seems like there is a good chance he will be in Minnesota sometime in 2020.But where will it be on the diamond?

 

The AFL also provides him the opportunity to shine and move up in those national rankings.

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#5 Steve Lein

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 07:51 AM

 

Thanks, Steve.

 

I recall hearing several years ago that a high percentage of players from the AFL go on to play in the big leagues the following year.Don't remember the percentage, but it was higher than I would have guessed.With Lewis beginning his fall as one of the stars, seems like there is a good chance he will be in Minnesota sometime in 2020.But where will it be on the diamond?

 

The AFL also provides him the opportunity to shine and move up in those national rankings.

 

It has been relatively high, but I'm not sure the total number or percentage.

 

In my previews I have noted whom made their MLB debut the following season after being in the AFL for the Twins, and it averages about two guys per year. Last year it was only Andrew Vasquez, and this year there was Devin Smeltzer (and Jaylin Davis if you want to count him). In 2017 there were 3, and 2016 there was Taylor Rogers.

 

They've altered the rules somewhat on what players are able to be sent, so that number is going down now. It used to be you needed an exemption to send more than one player from single-A levels so most guys were already at double-A or triple-A, but the Twins have 3 from the lower levels this year, and had at least that many last year as well.

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#6 JLease

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 08:47 AM

I like Rortvedt; hope he can end up hitting enough to make it. The defensive tools are there, i think. But Jeffers may already have passed him in the organizational rankings because of his bat. That said, it's nice to have to prospects moving up in the catching ranks again; it was pretty empty there for a while!

 

Chalmers is really interesting. If he can keep the BBs to a manageable number, he could rise really quickly. There's no question he's got the stuff, but whether he can control it enough to be a real starter will be his question until he proves it. If he gets that bb/9 in around 3.5 he's going to be scary. If he's hanging around 6, it won't matter how nasty the stuff is, because no one will bother swinging at it until he grooves one. nice start in the AFL, glad to see him getting some work there.

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#7 rdehring

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 09:12 AM

 

I like Rortvedt; hope he can end up hitting enough to make it. The defensive tools are there, i think. But Jeffers may already have passed him in the organizational rankings because of his bat. That said, it's nice to have to prospects moving up in the catching ranks again; it was pretty empty there for a while!

 

Chalmers is really interesting. If he can keep the BBs to a manageable number, he could rise really quickly. There's no question he's got the stuff, but whether he can control it enough to be a real starter will be his question until he proves it. If he gets that bb/9 in around 3.5 he's going to be scary. If he's hanging around 6, it won't matter how nasty the stuff is, because no one will bother swinging at it until he grooves one. nice start in the AFL, glad to see him getting some work there.

I don't know how one can say that Jeffers has passed Rortvedt.Wasn't Rortvedt moved up to AA well before Jeffers?And he hit well there until he started battling the injuries.If I recall, Jeffers made the move around the time Rortvedt was battling his injuries before missing the later part of the season?  

 

I don't know which will end up being the better Twin, but suspect both will eventually play in the major leagues.The future for either with the Twins appears to be as Garver's backup, playing about +40% of the time.Although either could fill that role by 2021, expect you are right and Rortvedt's bat will have to improve, whereas, Jeffers will need to improve his D.  

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#8 ashbury

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 10:58 AM

Chalmers is really interesting. If he can keep the BBs to a manageable number, he could rise really quickly. There's no question he's got the stuff, but whether he can control it enough to be a real starter will be his question until he proves it. If he gets that bb/9 in around 3.5 he's going to be scary. If he's hanging around 6, it won't matter how nasty the stuff is, because no one will bother swinging at it until he grooves one. nice start in the AFL, glad to see him getting some work there.

Ceiling: Perennial All-Star

Floor: Jim Hoey or less

 

Guys like that keep getting chances, because every organization figures, what if you could cut down the walks? But the guy isn't walking batters on purpose, so it's a major project.

 

Chalmers is a guy to watch, no question.

 

 

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#9 Tom Froemming

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 02:52 PM

Thank you for doing these again this season, Steve!

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#10 DocBauer

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 08:52 PM

1] Chalmers is exactly the kind of flier this FO should have picked up. Re-built arm, new lease on life, new organization, he could be gone after 2020. But he could also gain better control and finish next season rocking AA ball and be in the conversation for 2021.

2] With all of his athleticism and pure potential, I love Lewis moving around in the AFL. It has nothing to do with his potential as a SS. So young, and with all his gifts, he might be rough around the edges, but the ability to play SS is absolutely there.

But Polanco continues to grow and develop at SS. And I don't care about metrics anybody wants to spout. The simple fact is he is still young, still growing in to the position, and still improving. If Lewis turns out better, FINE. But the Twins will find room for Lewis. He could turn out to be an outstanding 3B with Sano moving to 1B/DH/backup 3B.

When I first mentioned Lewis moving to 3B last season as a possible outcome, some told me it would be a waste of talent. Huh? To me that's like saying Machado or A-Rod playing 3B is a "waste". Makes no sense to me.

Tabling the idea of Lewis moving to CF to replace Buxton at some point...a maybe, but with other CF options in the system who are intriguing...Sano is fine at 3B, and probably going to continue to improve. Ditto for Polanco at SS. Then you have Arraez at 2B. Unless traded, how about Gordon at SS or 2B, or a fine utility option. Further down the list, Javier at SS/3B. Does Bechtold figure in here somewhere the next year or two?

The point being, you put the best players on the field and where they can perform the best. Haven't we all seen how much positional flexibility matters to a team? Nothing wrong with having an uber-talented infield and moving guys around.
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#11 twins1095

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 08:55 AM

 

1] Chalmers is exactly the kind of flier this FO should have picked up. Re-built arm, new lease on life, new organization, he could be gone after 2020. But he could also gain better control and finish next season rocking AA ball and be in the conversation for 2021.

2] With all of his athleticism and pure potential, I love Lewis moving around in the AFL. It has nothing to do with his potential as a SS. So young, and with all his gifts, he might be rough around the edges, but the ability to play SS is absolutely there.

But Polanco continues to grow and develop at SS. And I don't care about metrics anybody wants to spout. The simple fact is he is still young, still growing in to the position, and still improving. If Lewis turns out better, FINE. But the Twins will find room for Lewis. He could turn out to be an outstanding 3B with Sano moving to 1B/DH/backup 3B.

When I first mentioned Lewis moving to 3B last season as a possible outcome, some told me it would be a waste of talent. Huh? To me that's like saying Machado or A-Rod playing 3B is a "waste". Makes no sense to me.

Tabling the idea of Lewis moving to CF to replace Buxton at some point...a maybe, but with other CF options in the system who are intriguing...Sano is fine at 3B, and probably going to continue to improve. Ditto for Polanco at SS. Then you have Arraez at 2B. Unless traded, how about Gordon at SS or 2B, or a fine utility option. Further down the list, Javier at SS/3B. Does Bechtold figure in here somewhere the next year or two?

The point being, you put the best players on the field and where they can perform the best. Haven't we all seen how much positional flexibility matters to a team? Nothing wrong with having an uber-talented infield and moving guys around.

 

Jorge Polanco gets a lot of player comparisons to Jose RamirezIF Lewis is truly an elite defender at SS, I would fully count out the idea of Polanco shifting to 3rd ala Ramirez either.I know Polanco's arm strength would be suspect there, but hopefully the extra range would make him passable.


#12 cmoss84

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 12:22 PM

Is it just me or does Lewis have a little Derek Jeter in his game? 

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#13 Jaykay

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 01:29 PM

 

Is it just me or does Lewis have a little Derek Jeter in his game? 

 

I've seen that comp before, and he kind of looks like him and has that star quality like Jeets had, which certainly feeds into it. 

Lewis is a different kind of athlete though. 

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#14 SpicyGarvSauce

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 02:07 PM

 

Is it just me or does Lewis have a little Derek Jeter in his game? 

 

Jeter was an overrated defensive SS, so hopefully not.


#15 Jaykay

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 02:27 PM

 

Jeter was an overrated defensive SS, so hopefully not.

 

Jeter was overrated, but I'd pretty thrilled if he ended up being Derek Jeter. 

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#16 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 03:08 PM

Jeter was an overrated defensive SS, so hopefully not.


Yeah that'd be awful if Lewis only gets 72 bWAR.
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#17 nicksaviking

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 03:22 PM

 

Yeah that'd be awful if Lewis only gets 72 bWAR.

 

Would you even offer a guy like that arbitration? Probably got to DFA him after his options are used up.

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