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Front Page: Can the Twins Fix Royce Lewis’s Swing?


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Humorously....they all still rate him as one of the 10-20 best prospects in baseball, and the Twins' best prospect....and yet people seem genuinely angry that they suggest he a: might not stick at SS, and b: isn't the best hitter he can be right now and he needs to make an adjustment in his approach........

Not angry, just really puzzled why the adjustments aren't being made early in his minor league career.  It would be nice to have a top prospect hit the major leagues running and not have to spend multiple seasons of cheap control fixing what should have been fixed earlier. 

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Here's what I'll say:

 

I disagree with Fangraph's assessment of Lewis' swing (and maybe Law's take but he didn't elaborate other than mentioning the leg kick). FG says he's "often late" on fastballs yet he's pulling the vast majority of pitches seen. The hand movement comment is vastly overblown. I take umbrage toward national prospect guys making specific statements about someone's swing when there is a high probability that they didn't study his swing that closely (there's thousands of players to cover). 

 

What's more, this note from the FG write-up is just silly fluff:

 

 

"Seem to". Yikes. 

 

The real issue is that, as a young prospect, he struggled for the first time in his career for a full season. 

 

It's a lot of movement, to be sure, but you don't coach the athlete out of the hitter. That was the old regime's problem and one reason why Byron Buxton struggled to find himself in the system. Lewis's leg kick isn't a problem and the organization doesn't see it as such (multiple Twins coaches told me that). There are timing issues, to be sure, but the Twins are allowing him the space to tighten things up on his own rather than going down the road of mandating changes like they did with Buxton. He might shorten the stride and stay in the back leg longer or make other changes along the way. 

 

While Lewis didn't make any mechanical changes for the Arizona Fall League, one thing he did was reach out to coaches in the org to help develop a better plan to prepare for games. He really didn't have one previously. I think we saw production based on just being better prepared for the competition. 

 

so, national writers should say what, about swings? Nothing?

 

Other than that, I have no issue with your post/opinion. It's all a matter of projection at this point.

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I don’t know why people are so disgruntled by some of this analysis.

 

It’s clear. His swing as it sits isn’t doing him any favors. His chances of sustaining any sort of meaningful production in the MLB, or maybe even before then, are in serious question.

 

Could he succeed without swing alterations? Maybe. Not likely. Pointing out one of the few outlier examples in the history of the MLB (Puckett) as evidence that he shouldn’t alter his approach is a very strange stance. You’re really supporting everyone else’s argument by pointing out how rare it is.

 

Of course they should be pushing him to develop, rather than just saying, “hands off, let the nature run it’s course.” It’s absurd to even be arguing such.

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Here's what I'll say:

 

I disagree with Fangraph's assessment of Lewis' swing (and maybe Law's take but he didn't elaborate other than mentioning the leg kick). FG says he's "often late" on fastballs yet he's pulling the vast majority of pitches seen. The hand movement comment is vastly overblown. I take umbrage toward national prospect guys making specific statements about someone's swing when there is a high probability that they didn't study his swing that closely (there's thousands of players to cover). 

 

What's more, this note from the FG write-up is just silly fluff:

 

 

"Seem to". Yikes. 

 

The real issue is that, as a young prospect, he struggled for the first time in his career for a full season. 

 

It's a lot of movement, to be sure, but you don't coach the athlete out of the hitter. That was the old regime's problem and one reason why Byron Buxton struggled to find himself in the system. Lewis's leg kick isn't a problem and the organization doesn't see it as such (multiple Twins coaches told me that). There are timing issues, to be sure, but the Twins are allowing him the space to tighten things up on his own rather than going down the road of mandating changes like they did with Buxton. He might shorten the stride and stay in the back leg longer or make other changes along the way. 

 

While Lewis didn't make any mechanical changes for the Arizona Fall League, one thing he did was reach out to coaches in the org to help develop a better plan to prepare for games. He really didn't have one previously. I think we saw production based on just being better prepared for the competition. 

I mean...the national writers, when commenting on the swing, in addition to incorporating their own reactions, are incorporating information from scouts (at least some scouts) who HAVE seen hundreds of his at-bats.

 

Regarding Buxton...it's pretty hard to criticize how the Twins handled Buxton at this (Lewis's) stage of development. Buxton destroyed minor-league pitching in his age 21 season....and in every season, other than the injury-shortened age 20 season.

 

Having said that, I'm with you on the balancing act between messing with him and letting him figure things out himself. I can accept arguments on both sides of that depending upon how impatient I am on that day.

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Regarding Buxton...it's pretty hard to criticize how the Twins handled Buxton at this (Lewis's) stage of development. Buxton destroyed minor-league pitching in his age 21 season....and in every season, other than the injury-shortened age 20 season.

 

 

I would argue that the Twins put him (and many others) into a swing that gave him the ability to have success at those levels -- high contact, ball on the ground, etc. As the competition improved, he wasn't able to adjust, wasn't able to get the ball in the air and eaten alive by breaking balls. Part of what you hear internally is that the Twins believe they failed in that they *didn't* let Buxton fail early. 

 

 

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I don’t know why people are so disgruntled by some of this analysis.

It’s clear. His swing as it sits isn’t doing him any favors. His chances of sustaining any sort of meaningful production in the MLB, or maybe even before then, are in serious question.

Could he succeed without swing alterations? Maybe. Not likely. Pointing out one of the few outlier examples in the history of the MLB (Puckett) as evidence that he shouldn’t alter his approach is a very strange stance. You’re really supporting everyone else’s argument by pointing out how rare it is.

Of course they should be pushing him to develop, rather than just saying, “hands off, let the nature run it’s course.” It’s absurd to even be arguing such.

 

Upon last check this was a discussion forum so posting a comment is not arguing...it's posting a comment

 

My Puckett comment was a comparison to some of the same conversations had about him as he started his career...and thank you for pointing out that Puckett was a rare breed, almost as rare as a player drafted 1-1

 

The point of my post was not to argue anyone's opinion, just to point out that a player selected with the first pick in the draft could have more talent than most players and may be able to hit standing on his head

 

Just a couple other examples of Start of Career traits of pretty decent players:

 

There was one guy who began his career hitting cross handed he turned our alright and yes he eventually made some adjustments

 

Closer to home, a Pat Neshek story from his college coach at Butler (apologies for not remembering his name):

When Neshek arrived they were going to fix him at Butler...coached him to deliver over the top, changed his mechanics to fit their idea of "right"...result?

He got lit up, he was ready to go home

What did they do? Let him return to his old form...and the rest is history

What did they learn? to quote the coach "These guys are freaks of nature...they can do things that most people can't and in some cases you just let them go"

 

So...no argument...just a thought...I'll be ok if Lewis drops the leg kick and settles his hands and stays shorter to the ball and has a fantastic career

 

Look into Josh Donaldson's swing history for another high leg kick story (I'll leave the debate on whether or not he's successful out of the post)

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I don't see the leg kick as a huge hurdle as there are plenty of guys in MLB who have one. I mean Mike Trout gets his leg pretty high up there. The stride is where my concerns come in. If the leg kick is his timing mechanism then let him kick, but I think a shorter stride will help him maintain more consistent at bats. I am not advocating that the coaches bring him in and force him to change anything, but it's something I'd keep an eye on while giving him the chance to adjust. By all reports he's an incredibly hard worker and I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back a little more "controlled" next year. Someone mentioned Javy Baez as a guy with a big leg kick and I think he's a good example of a guy who learned as he moved up that a little more control in his swing helped him produce more consistently. Royce has some pretty good lightening in those wrists and he'll make adjustments as he goes and let his athleticism take him where he wants to go.

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I think both takes have merit.

 

The concern is real. He struggled for an entire season in A ball and that swing MOST LIKELY will not provide sustained success in the MLB.

 

But he IS young, extremely athletic even among other athletes and has a superior attitude and competitive drive, so the ability to adjust should be high.

 

Overall, I don't think we have a future all star on our hands, but I cannot wait to be proven wrong

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Well, maybe someone needs to be concerned about who/how they are projecting these HS prospects that they seem to be taking so high in the first round? Lewis was a 1st round prospect out of HS, but maybe not #1 pick material. Fast forward two years and the Twins management again over reach, this time by a long shot, on Cavaco. If you think the organization needs to be worried about Lewis’ swing, Cavaco should make them lose sleep at night. Kid is a disaster, can’t even hit his body weight in Rookie ball. That strike out % isn’t going to change because he is a pure pull hitter who is trying to lift everything over the LF wall, ton of head movement and he is worse at hitting a breaking pitch than Lewis. Your SS prospects taken in the first round are a little suspect, but at least Lewis may be able to hang. Cavaco will be a bust and never get past low A. Lewis was more prepared for pro ball than Cavaco, who played poor competition in HS...Lewis will advance much further.

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Fast forward two years and the Twins management again over reach, this time by a long shot, on Cavaco. If you think the organization needs to be worried about Lewis’ swing, Cavaco should make them lose sleep at night. Kid is a disaster, can’t even hit his body weight in Rookie ball. That strike out % isn’t going to change because he is a pure pull hitter who is trying to lift everything over the LF wall, ton of head movement and he is worse at hitting a breaking pitch than Lewis.

 

I have yet to see a clip of Cavaco demonstrating a lot of head movement in his swing, like this in-game swing:

 

 

And, at least when he made contact, he showed that he wasn't a pure pull hitter:

 

cavaco.PNG

 

Moreover, he went to work this fall to improve elements of his swing:

 

 

 

Sure, the contact rate is troublesome but he's 18. You'd love to see him jump in and do damage right away. But players struggle. He doesn't have any massive mechanical flaws at this point. He can certainly develop better pitch recognition and smooth over other issues. 

 

I don't think anyone needs to hit the panic button yet. 

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A guy batting .172 in rookie ball who was the #13 overall pick better be working on more than just “Elements of his swing...”

 

Moderator note:

 

This article and thread are about Royce Lewis. I appreciate bringing some others into the discussion for comparison's sake, but let's not take the tangent road and please keep this discussion on Royce Lewis. If you want to discuss Cavaco, or any other player for that matter, you are more than welcome to start a thread in the Minor League forum or write a blog.

 

Thank you.

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I'm no expert, but it seems to me that the only real noisy part of Lewis's swing is the leg kick. Looking at the video in this article frame by frame, his hands don't seem to move all that much during his load. He brings the bat down and then forward before whipping his hands through the zone. I guess they could cut the downward wag out, but it doesn't seem all that disruptive to me. His head stays level for the most part, although it sinks as he comes out of his leg kick. I can see how this might disrupt his eye level and cause him to be slow on fastballs and fail to recognize breaking balls. That said, he seems to get to a balanced position as he makes contact with the ball (maybe he's a bit out front in this specific clip, but I was able to draw a vertical line from his ear hole to his back knee).

 

Again, I'm no expert, but I think shortening his stride just a little bit may do wonders for any pitch recognition issues he might have. Sounds like game planning could also be a major component of his improvement.

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In support of the belief that the Twins may have somehow failed Buxton by not letting him fail......and in support of my argument that players should be promoted faster as a rule.....

 

Weenie
12:43 Do you think Dipoto seems to be a little too aggressive with promoting his prospects? White, Lewis, and Dunn haven’t played AAA and Sheffield struggled there last year, yet Dipoto seems to imply that all 4 are likely to have an opening day roster spot.
Eric A Longenhagen
12:44 No, I think more and more teams are pushing guys until they fail, then slowing down, and I think this strategy is appropriate. I'm not sure the PCL is great for dev.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

1976 called and wants your hot take back.

 

I disagree. Especially with the shifts happening now and in the last 5 years. 1976 never came close to presenting the defenses batters are now looking at. Right now, even the slowest of baserunners can easily make it to first with a well placed bunt if the shift leaves only one person on the left side of the infield (or the right for that matter). And they should. Lewis and any speedy runner - piece of cake. 2020 calling.

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1976 called and wants your hot take back.

Puckett bunted for hits a lot in the 80's and 90/s .   Its a great slump buster.    Carew would do just fine in 2020..  For Buxton a bunt single is pretty much the equivalent of a double.   There's a place for it and I wish more of the Twins did it.   Pitchers and defenses hate it.   

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I would argue that the Twins put him (and many others) into a swing that gave him the ability to have success at those levels -- high contact, ball on the ground, etc. As the competition improved, he wasn't able to adjust, wasn't able to get the ball in the air and eaten alive by breaking balls. Part of what you hear internally is that the Twins believe they failed in that they *didn't* let Buxton fail early. 

So, in summation...

 

When a prospect did great under the old regime (Buxton), it was an indication of the old regime's ignorance...and that prospect was destined to fail.

And when a prospect struggles under the new regime (Lewis), it's an indication of the new regime's wisdom....and that prospect is destined to succeed.

 

(tongue only slightly in cheek)

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Bunting will always have a place in baseball. A player with elite speed, especially one without Troutlike hitting talents, should absolutely attempt to become skillful at bunting. In addition to breaking slumps, it helps slow the game down and brings the 3B in, opening up both the baseline and the 5-6 hole. Buxton, and hopefully Lewis soon, create havoc when on the bases. How many slow curveballs or sweeping sliders are thrown with Buxton on base? Bunting and speed are still valuable weapons in baseball in 2020.

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Used to coach some and played collage ball..... Looking at the video he does have a few things that need to be addressed. The leg kick is a timing mechanism that he draws power from but he clearly needs to refine it as his stride appears to be way too big. Can get away with this when the pitching is pretty straight but as he climbs the ladder he is going to have to shorten it to be able to recognize and react to the top breaking balls. I would say if he just cuts it down about half so he still has the feel of his swing he will see pretty good results.

 

Would also suggest that he drop his hands down a bit so he is in the hitting position earlier... this should help him again with the breaking balls and the higher level of pitching. 

 

Remember when Rosario first came up to the Twins he had the worst hitch I had ever seen... Is now MUCH better and the result showed last year. Didn't see a hitch in Lewis' swing so just a few tweeks as some have said should get him where he needs to go. Hopefully they had him in the cage working on these over the winter as that is when the changes occur.... not in season.... 

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