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Front Page: The Defensive Future of Royce Lewis

royce lewis miguel sano eddie rosario byron buxton max kepler
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#21 Riverbrian

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 10:39 AM

Versatility is great, but an above average SS or catcher doesn’t get moved around. This is especially true if they possess starter quality offensive skills. A well below average offensive player needs defensive versatility to stick in the majors. Unless Lewis shows himself to be below average as a SS without reasonable expectation for improvement, I would give him all the reps possible there. The other exception is the appearance of a better SS option. As of now that is not the case or likely in the foreseeable future.
Another possibility for improvement of the infield defense is to greatly upgrade the third base defense to help cover some range and arm concerns with Polanco. If that is the plan I can get behind a Lewis move to third.


You are describing past “Utility” definitions.

Super Utility is alive and well in this day and age.
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#22 stringer bell

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 11:32 AM

In the OP, there was mention of Lewis' fielding percentage compared to Polanco's this year with the Twins. That should be regarded with a grain of salt, if that. Major league stadiums, with their manicured infields and excellent lighting (and kind official scorers) make that comparison near meaningless. That there are scouting reports showing that Lewis has issues as a defensive shortstop would be meaningful, but what are the issues? Does he have the necessary range and arm strength? Can he make a quick release throw? Steve Lein has pointed out that Lewis isn't that quick with his release. I would think that is a problem that can be corrected.

 

I think it is good for Lewis to have work in at third base and the outfield. Year to year conventional wisdom changes on players. Currently, there is discussion about the long-term futures of both Buxton (due to injuries) and Sanó (due to defensive liability). Perhaps both will play their way through those questions, but perhaps these two positions may be where Lewis will get a chance (if he is ready to hit in the majors). Manny Machado was a shortstop who took a third base vacancy to get to the majors and he's played 80% of his innings at third base through eight seasons. Regardless, Royce will need to carry his good hitting from the AFL next season to even be in consideration for a promotion to Minnesota.

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#23 jkcarew

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 12:11 PM

 

He's got a good arm, but it's an outfield arm at this point. What I mean by that is he's a bit "long" in his motion to get to that arm strength. Watched quite a few games of his this year and can recall a few plays where he didn't get to a ground ball quick enough, then his release wasn't fast enough to get the ball there on time to beat the runner with his arm. While I wouldn't call the plays I'm recalling 'routine' necessarily, I'd also expect a SS to make them. 

 

But again, these are things he's going to improve. I have no doubt he can be better than Polanco there eventually if that's the path they go down.

Then there is absolutely no reason not to go down that path. Yes, expose Lewis to other positions to ensure that things aren't totally foreign depending on how events unfold. But SS is where the highest upside is for any player's value...and it's the most difficult from a technical standpoint. Focus development there until the above sentence is proved false. (Or, I guess...until Buxton is traded or forced to retire.)

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#24 Steve Lein

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 12:19 PM

 

Then there is absolutely no reason not to go down that path. Yes, expose Lewis to other positions to ensure that things aren't totally foreign depending on how events unfold. But SS is where the highest upside is for any player's value...and it's the most difficult from a technical standpoint. Focus development there until the above sentence is proved false. (Or, I guess...until Buxton is traded or forced to retire.)

 

I know what you're getting at here, but I look at it a little differently.

 

Lewis isn't going to displace Polanco from shortstop in the next few years outside of coming up to fill in for a long term trip to the injured list or if Polanco forgets how to hit.

 

If Lewis is becoming the player you think he can be, you find or create a place to play him in this scenario with Polanco entrenched. This helps you do so.

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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)


#25 DocBauer

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 12:54 PM

Echoing a few other thoughts.

1] Error numbers for a 19yo milb SS are pretty meaningless. It's still about potential at this point, and further development of that potential.

2] Totally agree he should keep playing all over, including some time at 2B, to increase his versatility not only for a future home at some point, but to increase his initial call up value. And maybe he ends up being a daily player at a couple spots. Who knows?

3] Having a problem of how to fit all of your talent on the field at once is a nice problem to have. At this point, where Lewis ultimately ends up really shouldn't matter.
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#26 adorduan

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 02:20 PM

IMO it will be disappointing if he doesn't play a premium defensive position, i.e. SS or CF.Other positions are easier to fill.


#27 rdehring

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 02:21 PM

Who are the best two prospects we have in the minors?I would say Lewis and Kirilloff, as far as position players are concerned.Kirilloff plays first bast, left field and right field.Lewis played short most of the summer and third, center and a bit of second in the AFL. 

 

Continue playing both players at those positions and you have 7 of the 9 defensive positions covered.Either could come up in any of THEIR positions to fill in for an injury.Eventually they could come up to start in one of THEIR positions or to be a rotational starter, much like Gonzalez.After all, I recall wondering how Gonzalez was going to find playing time as we sat here late last March.Haven't looked at the stats, but I am guessing he started most of the days he was healthy.Think I will generate a new baseball term.........Rotational Starter!

Edited by rdehring, 22 October 2019 - 02:22 PM.

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#28 jkcarew

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 02:39 PM

 

I know what you're getting at here, but I look at it a little differently.

 

Lewis isn't going to displace Polanco from shortstop in the next few years outside of coming up to fill in for a long term trip to the injured list or if Polanco forgets how to hit.

 

If Lewis is becoming the player you think he can be, you find or create a place to play him in this scenario with Polanco entrenched. This helps you do so.

Why would Polanco be 'entrenched' at SS, if Lewis is better than Polanco there? Under your original premise that Lewis is a better defensive shortstop than Polanco (with further development), you play Lewis at short...and Polanco moves. You always play the best defender at SS.

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#29 Steve Lein

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 02:46 PM

 

Why would Polanco be 'entrenched' at SS, if Lewis is better than Polanco there? Under your original premise that Lewis is a better defensive shortstop than Polanco (with further development), you play Lewis at short...and Polanco moves. You always play the best defender at SS.

 

You misunderstand slightly. I would venture Lewis' bat/other abilities get him to the majors before he's a better shortstop than Polanco, if that does happen. You're not going to leave Lewis in the minors for that reason at that point, you're going to bring him up to play somewhere.

 

 

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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)


#30 jkcarew

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 03:35 PM

 

You misunderstand slightly. I would venture Lewis' bat/other abilities get him to the majors before he's a better shortstop than Polanco, if that does happen. You're not going to leave Lewis in the minors for that reason at that point, you're going to bring him up to play somewhere.

What does that look like? You play him at all the positions other than SS that he might be asked to play? You've basically eliminated his chances of beingable to play short-stop at an every-day major league level...or, you've decided that you will (when the time comes) develop him at short while he's at the major league level. Not worth it. It's relatively easy for an elite athlete to transition from SS to somewhere else,...vs the other way around. I'm arguing that the LOW risk move is to continue to focus his development at SS rather than guess where he might fit in when his bat demands that he move to the major league club. The HIGH risk path is to siphon significant development time away from SS by guessing where he might fit when that time comes. (And no, I don't consider playing AFL games at 3rd...and occasional minor league games at CF, etc. to be inconsistent with the low risk path. The question is, where should he focus his development at this time.)

Edited by jkcarew, 22 October 2019 - 03:36 PM.

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#31 USAFChief

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 03:59 PM

How's about they use Lewis as the centerpiece of a deal for pitching, and let someone else figure out what to do with a SS who hasn't hit and won't play SS.

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#32 Linus

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 04:48 PM

How's about they use Lewis as the centerpiece of a deal for pitching, and let someone else figure out what to do with a SS who hasn't hit and won't play SS.


This. If he can’t stick at short his prospect value halves. If your assessment tells you he isn’t likely to stay at short trade him immediately for the best pitching deal you can get

#33 Mike Sixel

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 06:08 PM

 

This. If he can’t stick at short his prospect value halves. If your assessment tells you he isn’t likely to stay at short trade him immediately for the best pitching deal you can get

 

I don't agree. He looks like he could be an elite CF.......

 

I have no idea what his future is. None.

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#34 jorgenswest

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 06:24 PM

As for his development they need to make sure his bat is an asset. It might be best to put the extra work at the plate than learning 3B or CF.

I also think he has more value in trade as a starting SS prospect than a super utility with a mediocre glove at several positions.

Develop the bat. Develop his glove at SS.

#35 DocBauer

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 07:01 PM

I think a lot of comments are selling Lewis short, no pun intended.

I don't see where Steve, or anyone really, is saying he can't play SS. Only 19yo and played in AA ball and didn't embarrass himself. Nobody is saying he can't or won't potentially displace Polanco. But Polanco is also young and continues to improve, and should continue to improve. There is room for both of them. The point Brian was making was an excellent one. If you have Polanco, Arraez and Sano as quality fixtures, and have more than a couple 1B options getting really close, (plus a potential move of Sano to 1B), and have a dynamic OF, when together, and a couple other really nice kids on the way up, what on earth is so wrong with Lewis playing other positions in his ML promotion?

That's like saying Marwin's value is limited because he doesn't play a single position. Maybe more to the point, examine Arraez. While a natural 2B, and possibly a fixture there for some time, he contributed at 2B/SS/3B/LF. Was that a mistake in his usage? I would say a resounding NO.

And Lewis is a far greater athlete with greater potential. Where he ultimately fits on a daily basis is yet to be determined. But when he is ready to come up, why not use him in similar fashion?

And I find debates about his offense humorous. A year ago he looked so good some thought/hoped he'd be ready early 2020. Now, he struggled a bit as a 19yo in his second full season. But he's flashing in the AFL.
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#36 Steve Lein

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 07:02 PM

 

What does that look like? You play him at all the positions other than SS that he might be asked to play? [...] It's relatively easy for an elite athlete to transition from SS to somewhere else,...vs the other way around.I'm arguing that the LOW risk move is to continue to focus his development at SS rather than guess where he might fit in when his bat demands that he move to the major league club. The HIGH risk path is to siphon significant development time away from SS by guessing where he might fit when that time comes. 

 

We agree here, just think you're getting lost in the details. You started by responding to my comment that I think he could be better than Polanco eventually, so why waste his development time at SS.

 

I wasn't at any point saying you do what they're doing with him in the AFL moving forward. You definitely focus on SS. You are correct in saying this is the low-risk path and that transitioning from SS to elsewhere is easier.

 

All I'm saying is that this venture and experience in the AFL helps open that door when it gets to the point where you need to play him somewhere, but Polanco is still the (better) guy at SS. I definitely think this is a possibility, and the more likely scenario at this point. 

 

Maybe you play him at a different position a few times a month, but certainly not a scenario where you siphon significant development time. :)

Edited by Steve Lein, 22 October 2019 - 07:20 PM.

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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)


#37 Riverbrian

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 09:14 PM

 

We agree here, just think you're getting lost in the details. You started by responding to my comment that I think he could be better than Polanco eventually, so why waste his development time at SS.

 

I wasn't at any point saying you do what they're doing with him in the AFL moving forward. You definitely focus on SS. You are correct in saying this is the low-risk path and that transitioning from SS to elsewhere is easier.

 

All I'm saying is that this venture and experience in the AFL helps open that door when it gets to the point where you need to play him somewhere, but Polanco is still the (better) guy at SS. I definitely think this is a possibility, and the more likely scenario at this point. 

 

Maybe you play him at a different position a few times a month, but certainly not a scenario where you siphon significant development time. :)

 

Exactly... Things don't have to be all or nothing. 

 

I don't know anything about Lewis defensively but I'm willing to lay down a bet with anyone that when he hits the major leagues. It will be close to a mid-season ... and... and...the odds are that he will debut at position other than SS so I will be comfortable taking that bet as well. 

 

If that's the case and it probably is... Let him play multiple positions, he can still play the majority of time at SS if you so desire.  

 

And who knows... maybe in the process of doing so. A different SS comes around who can REALLY pick it. A different SS that also starts figuring it out at the plate because he now gets the chance to figure it out at the plate because Lewis isn't playing every possible inning at SS.

 

So, now you have given opportunity to multiple SS's and may the best man win . You increase your production by a 2 to 1 margin instead of locking into one and saying we will live or die with you and you alone. Production is increased, options are increased... these are good things. 

 

 

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#38 Kelly Vance

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 11:29 PM

1. Polanco is an All Star at SS this year. Its going to take something special to push him out

2. Jorge was extended and for good reason.

3. Lewis was drafted as a SS.He has skills and lots of potential. But so did Ripkin and he was moved over. Except Miggie mans 3B and he had a breakout year.

4. Kiriloff is closer to the show than Lewis, which is why Miggie is not just being moved to 1b. 

 

My guess is that, barring injury, Lewis gets traded for pitching in a win win deal. 

 

 

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#39 h2oface

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 02:18 AM

I don't think these games mean a damn thing about where the Twins will have him develop. Exihibition games, managed by people not in his orginization, to get the kid some more at bats, and hopefully confidence after a very mediocre season at the plate. Where he is playing during the short AFL season means absolutely nothing about his future.

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#40 TopGunn#22

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 07:08 AM

Interesting comments and thoughts from all.Here are a few of mine:

1.Remember how Polanco was moved around and played some 2B and SS in the minors prior to his callup?

2.Kiriloff & Lewis are always talked about as our top 2 position player prospects, but don't sleep onLarnach.He should be right there with those 2.

3.The mystery man in the Twins minor leagues is Wander Javier.Once thought to be our BEST SS prospect, he's had 2 injury marred years.This is a big "IF" but, what if he comes back strong this year?

That could have an effect on Lewis and his future position.

4.I think the best plan is to have Lewis play the majority of his innings at SS.But I would certainly give him innings at 3B and CF.I think those who point out added versatility could speed his move to the majors are correct. 

5.There is no doubt in my mind that Sano is a future DH/1B.3B will be a hole to fill in one or 2 years. 

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