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Twins Promote Top Prospect Royce Lewis to Take Over at Shortstop


Carlos Correa injured his finger when hit by a pitch on Thursday night in Baltimore (thankfully not broken!). But this hopefully minor setback at least comes with a genuine silver lining:

Former first overall pick Royce Lewis is coming to the big leagues, following a scorching hot start with the St. Paul Saints.

 

It's been quite an interesting journey for Royce Lewis. The Twins surprised the baseball world when they selected him first overall in 2017, signing the California prep star below slot while passing up flashy names like Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay and MacKenzie Gore to gamble on the toolsy shortstop.

It paid off. Lewis emerged as a superior prospect compared to all others at the top of that draft, and was a consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball heading into 2019, where he appeared in the Futures Game. But that season was a bit of a struggle for him, facing advanced competition in the higher minors. 

Lewis missed the next two seasons entirely, with COVID wiping out 2020 and a knee injury sidelining him for all of 2021. He came into this 2022 campaign plagued by question marks, but wasted no time in putting them to rest.

Playing at Triple-A for the first time, Lewis has been an absolute monster. He hit his 11th double on Thursday night and is batting .310 with a .993 OPS for the Saints. The speedster didn't lose a step from his knee surgery, as he's already got eight steals on nine attempts. 

Perhaps most impressively, this historically undisciplined hitter has a 20-to-17 K/BB ratio in 107 plate appearances. Lewis came back after a two-year layoff and immediately conquered the biggest weakness in his game. 

Those of us who've been following him along the way are not shocked. Lewis is a rare specimen and it's extremely exciting that we'll now get to see him take the big-league stage, even if the circumstances that precipitated it are undeniably bogus. 

Lewis has played shortstop almost exclusively in the minors and is poised to play there almost every day for the Twins in Correa's absence, however long that lasts. (Presumably not long since he avoided the IL.) Lewis' defense will be worth watching closely, since many feel he's not destined to stick at the position. 

Despite his rocky road, Royce Lewis is going to debut in the majors at age 22, less than five years after being drafted out of high school. Somehow, despite all the turbulence, his timeline still worked out almost exactly as you'd hope. Now he's got a chance to make an impression -- albeit perhaps a brief one.

Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct the mistaken assumption that Correa's broken finger was confirmed by Friday morning's CT scan. We apologize for the error.

 

 


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7 minutes ago, PatPfund said:

I can't believe how every day there is a new scheme to push Lewis to the majors. He needs to stay in St Paul until an everyday slot opens for him at his most valuable positi.... oh. Never mind. I'm pumped! (Though I want Correa back as soon as he can play, too.)

An everyday slot opened up for him... 

The key for Lewis this is year to try to stay healthy and to play a lot, nearly every day. If that is at St. Paul, great... Now that's at Target Field..

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3 minutes ago, strumdatjag said:

I’m not thinking that Correa just might be Wally Pipp.  But you never know.  If Lewis shines at SS, where does he play after Correa returns:

1.  Left Field

2.  Shortstop

3. St Paul. 
 

I’m picking number one.  

Larnach and Kiriloff also need to play every day and Larnach is hitting and playing a capable LF. The only reason Royce would stay at SS for the Twins July-Aug-Sept is if the Twins are awful when Correa comes back so they sell at the deadline and trade Correa. Hopefully he goes back to St. Paul. 

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I've watched several Saints games and Twins ST games and even Ft. Myers miracle games to see Lewis in person. I'm not a baseball scout, but I've watched plenty of shortstops. I don't agree with the "he can't stick at SS" narrative. Lewis has far less shortcomings at SS than Polanco or Gordon. Arm strength, instincts, speed, it's all there. His hands aren't quite as good as Simmons or Correa but that's a pretty high bar to clear. Hopefully he proves the doubters wrong here with a few games as an MLB shortstop. 

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13 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

An everyday slot opened up for him... 

The key for Lewis this is year to try to stay healthy and to play a lot, nearly every day. If that is at St. Paul, great... Now that's at Target Field..

Sorry, I obscured the joke too much. It seems like every day I'm here saying a version of 'cool your jets until there is a shortstop position open for Royce; no outfield, 1st, 3rd, etc'. And said it so much I was almost shocked to realize this morning that I was ready to advocate promoting him.

Dang. Next thing you know I'm going to be pushing for Thielbar and Duffey to be co-closers! (Well. Maybe not...)

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We all hoped Lewis would get off to a tremendous start after missing two full years.  But I expect most of us are pleasantly surprised that he has hit this well.  

What a fantastic night for baseball...Josh Winder on the mound for the Twins with Royce Lewis at shortstop.  I for one am so hopeful they are still doing that six, seven years from now.

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15 minutes ago, strumdatjag said:

I’m not thinking that Correa just might be Wally Pipp.  But you never know.  If Lewis shines at SS, where does he play after Correa returns:

1.  Left Field

2.  Shortstop

3. St Paul. 
 

I’m picking number one.  

Well, first we need to see if he hits MLB pitching, or if further injuries don't rearrange things. Lots of players struggle with hitting on their first go including a kid named Mike Trout (or locally Buxton, Rooker, Larnach, Miranda); some figure it out pretty quickly, but Byron took years. But if he plays really well, I'm guessing he stays, and you could rotate him with Polanco and Correa through SS/2B/DH. 

If he plays solid, but shows lack of development in areas as a hitter or fielder, you send him down for everyday work. 

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Going to be interesting to see how Lewis does at the Big league level.  It looks like A lot of the young guys we were waiting on are finding their way to the Majors this year.  The Twins continue to build for 2023 and beyond.  I wish Royce the best.  Considering all the adversity he has faced he deserves something to go his way for a change.  He is a big part of this teams future plans so would be nice to see him do well.  I guess we will know more soon enough.

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19 minutes ago, rwilfong86 said:

Now is the future.

Lord Dark Helmet: What the heck am I looking at? When does THIS happen in the move?
Col. Sandurz: NOW. You're looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now is happening now.
Lord Dark Helmet: Go back to then!
Col. Sandurz: What?
Lord Dark Helmet: THEN!
Col. Sandurz: I can't!
Lord Dark Helmet: Why not?
Col. Sandurz: We passed it!
Lord Dark Helmet: When?
Col. Sandurz: Just now!
Lord Dark Helmet: When will then be now?
Col. Sandurz: SOON!
 
 
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Lewis has been looking fantastic at AAA.  I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll step in and help the Twins win some games right away.

Big test of the depth now early with Miranda and Lewis filling in full time roles and Winder getting pushed into the rotation.  If they manage to keep winning over this stretch we will have to feel good about the way the team is built. 

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12 minutes ago, dex8425 said:

Larnach and Kiriloff also need to play every day and Larnach is hitting and playing a capable LF. The only reason Royce would stay at SS for the Twins July-Aug-Sept is if the Twins are awful when Correa comes back so they sell at the deadline and trade Correa. Hopefully he goes back to St. Paul. 

The way it should work is:

If Royce is playing better than others on the roster... He stays when Correa returns. 

If he is struggling and not getting the job done... He should go back down and go back down before Correa returns. 

Give Lewis a solid couple of weeks to a month to adjust and show what he can do and these things should sort themselves.

I'm planning on the Twins being in contention and if in contention we have no room to award playing time to struggling players. 

I have no fear of finding significant playing time for Correa, Lewis, Kirilloff and Larnach if all 4 are playing well and if all 4 are playing well... we will be in contention.   

 

Good luck to Royce... Go Get Em!!! 

     

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1 hour ago, Seth Stohs said:

So excited!! Royce is such a good guy. He's uber-talented, but he also believes in himself. That he is off to such a terrific start in St. Paul after missing two years speaks to his work ethic, confidence and ability!! 

I've been wanting to say this for awhile and this seems like a good time.

Seth, you must have made quite an impression on Royce. Because he has adopted your look! That must have made the difference on his tremendous performance out of the gates.

All kidding aside. Lewis is indeed a rare breed, his exuberance carries over to his game which I have no doubt that he will step up to this challenge as he has done to all his challenges and mash it head on. 

God bless you Royce and a speedy recovery for Correa.

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50 minutes ago, strumdatjag said:

I’m not thinking that Correa just might be Wally Pipp.  But you never know.  If Lewis shines at SS, where does he play after Correa returns:

1.  Left Field

2.  Shortstop

3. St Paul. 
 

I’m picking number one.  

When Correa returns, he goes right back where he won a Platinum Glove - Shortstop. Royce Lewis will slide over to 3rd base, taking Urshella's spot. The only thing stopping that would be a prolonged slump at the plate, which to me seems very unlikely. 

Imagine how Lewis and Correa will eat up grounders hit by righties. Forget about bunts and nubbers down the line. Royce will pounce on them like a cat.

For the time being, expect good starting SS from Lewis. Not as radically good as Correa's defense, but solid, with great range. Lewis is supposed to be a Mauer-level athlete, so we can expect some highlights. I hope they put him in today's game..!

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It sucks to lose Correa but I am excited to see what Royce Lewis can do in the Big Leagues.  If Lewis is clearly over matched or just average, it makes the decision easy when Correa returns.  Send him back to St. Paul to play every day.  If Lewis does really well, it makes this decision a lot harder.  Do you find a spot for him to play every day with the Twins or do you send him back to St. Paul?  I don't think you can have him ride the bench at Target Field.  While this is certainly a more complicated situation, it would be a good problem to have for a change.

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1 hour ago, PatPfund said:

I can't believe how every day there is a new scheme to push Lewis to the majors. He needs to stay in St Paul until an everyday slot opens for him at his most valuable positi.... oh. Never mind. I'm pumped! (Though I want Correa back as soon as he can play, too.)

I feel the same way.  I am excited for Royce.  But, this is no silver lining.  I want Royce and Carlos.  If Royce produces at an average or better pace, him, Buxton, and Correa could take this team to great places.

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36 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

Hope he does well.

But I hope more strongly Correa heals quickly and is back in a couple weeks. 

Absolutely! CC is the very definition of best of the present. Lewis is the future and this experience will do great things for him.

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Losing Correa stings and may impact some results. However, getting Royce Lewis to the bigs with a chance to play everyday is a distinct silver lining. I agree with those who think upon Correa's return Lewis can slide over to 3B. (It's who do you want in the lineup Larnach or Urshela?)

This opportunity for Lewis better informs the Twins of his readiness for SS if Correa opts out - which I don't think is a foregone conclusion like many others on TD, but is a possibility.

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