Although not all minor league players develop at the same rate, it’s become clear that Lewis is knocking on the door to the big leagues. He’s not a realistic shot to crack the major league roster for 2020, but a debut this season is trending more towards a possibility.
Having enjoyed plenty of run in big league camp thanks to an injury sustained by starter Jorge Polanco, Lewis has been provided ample opportunity to show what he’s capable of. More than in any other instance, the results on Tuesday in Clearwater provide a strong depiction of what’s currently taking place.
In his first at-bat Lewis stepped in and cranked a homer way out to left field. The wind was blowing in that direction, but with a distracted focus, my immediate reaction was to drop a four-letter word in simply saying, “Holy s***.” He got every bit of the pitch and cranked in over the Tiki bar down the line, eventually leaving the stadium. Although not seen as a hulking power threat, it was in that swing that Lewis displayed his advanced ability to send the pill on a ride.
Not long after his exploits at the dish, Lewis was making an impact in the field. Over the course of his day in the field it appeared there was a level of comfort between he and second baseman Luis Arraez (and a nice heads up prior to his home run). Fluid double plays were turned, and a level of communication seemed apparent. It was on a grounder deep in the hole, inducing a throw that Hall of Famer Derek Jeter would’ve been proud of, that we saw Royce’s defensive skill on display.
Plenty has been made about both his leg kick at the dish and the ability to stick at shortstop. It’s in instances like the two big contributions made against the Phillies that should give pause to any concerns. His home run came against big ticket free-agent acquisition Zack Wheeler, and the defensive effort was put up against a respectable runner in Adam Haseley. If we dream on an extrapolation of those results, it’s easy to see why he’s touted as one of baseball’s best prospects.
The flip side introduces us to the potential pitfalls of Lewis’ projection. He played a sound game defensively so there was nothing to be concerned with there. However, it was at the dish that we saw the negative effects of timing induced by a pronounced leg kick. There were not any strikeouts today, but his third at-bat included a lunge I’m sure he’d rather not replicate.
When utilizing a leg kick to work through rhythm and timing, a heavy emphasis must be put on getting that foot back down. If there’s a guess made to the pitch selection then any sort of incorrect thought process will likely result in a substantial weight transfer, wider base, and lack of impact at the point of contact. You’re certainly going to be fooled at times as a hitter, but the door left open for a pitcher to exploit it more often can be opened wider with a leg kick or moving hands at the plate.
Overall, this game was a very good representation of where Lewis is right now. The athleticism and talent are legit, he’s got the ability to be a bona fide star. There are a couple of refinements still be added however, and that will dictate his timeline to the big leagues, and his eventual impact when he arrives in Twins Territory.
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