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  • Royce Lewis Promoted To The Kernels


    Seth Stohs

    The Cedar Rapids Kernels announced this morning that #1 overall pick Royce Lewis will join the team on Saturday.

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter (photo of Royce Lewis)

    The Twins promoting Lewis to the Midwest League is something that hasn't been done in dozens of years, at least.

     

    The last #1 overall pick, Joe Mauer, spent the 2001 season (his draft year) with Elizabethton before spending the entire 2002 season in the Midwest League.

     

    Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios started their pro careers (2012) in the GCL, as Lewis has, before being promoted to Elizabethton.

     

    Back in 2006, Chris Parmelee (first round) and Joe Benson (second round) began their pro careers in the GCL. When that season ended, they were promoted to the Kernels to play in their playoff series.

     

    The Kernels will be in the 2017 playoffs thanks to their strong first half.

     

    Lewis has been slumping of late, but few question his immense athleticism, talent and baseball acumen.

     

    In 36 games in the GCL, 18-year-old Royce Lewis has hit .271/.390/.414 (.803) with six doubles, two triples and three home runs. He also has 15 stolen bases.

     

    A month ago, GCL Twins manager Ramon Borrega told Pioneer Press's Mike Berardino that he thought Lewis should be promoted directly to the Kernels.

    “When I had Buxton, I said, ‘Why are we keeping this guy? He needs to go somewhere,’ ” Borrego said. “It’s the same thing with Lewis. It’s the same case. I said, ‘Hey, get ready to get him out of here.’ He’s been dominating the league. The way he’s been playing, you say, ‘Wow. This kid doesn’t need to be here.’ That kid’s ready to go play in CR right now.”

     

    The timing, however, is interesting. In July, Lewis hit .321/.412/.464 (.877). However, in 33 at-bats so far in August, Lewis has just four hits. He's hit .121/.341/.182 (.523). As you can see, despite the lack of hits, he's still taking walks (9) and getting on base, and once he does that, he has the ability to steal a lot of bases.

     

    This is definitely an aggressive move for the Twins, but Lewis seems to have the makeup. It will be fun to watch.

     

    This continues an aggressive trend. Supplemental first-round pick Brent Rooker was promoted from Elizabethton to Ft. Myers a few weeks ago. Lewis becomes the fourth member of the 2017 Twins draft to join the Kernels. Fourth-round pick Charlie Barnes and eight-round pick Bryan Sammons, both left-handed pitchers, joined the Kernels in recent weeks. They are both in the Cedar Rapids rotation. Days after, infielder Jordan Gore was also called up to the Kernels.

     

    By the way, have we mentioned that Cedar Rapids is just a 4 to 4 1/2 hour drive from the Twin Cities?

     

    Also, here is a first look of Kernels infielder Royce Lewis in his #30 uniform...

     

    https://twitter.com/CRKernels/status/896450965863370752

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    Okay, listen. There are some interesting things being said here and we all applaud Lewis for the promotion and good game but

     

    WE NEED A CLARIFICATION ON WHAT "HIGH MINORS" REALLY MEANS

    OK, A+ and AA are now covered. What about AA-? WE NEED A CLARIFICATION ON THE CLARIFICATION

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    High Minors: AA and AAA... 

    Low Minors: High-A and Low-A.

    Rookie Leagues: E-Town and GCL

     

    Missing:

     

    1. single A, like the Midwest League. Low A aka A- aka short season A, like the NY-Penn league is lower than A and higher than high Rookie.  For some reason people from teams that do not have A- leagues (like the Twins'), call single A leagues, "low" A leagues to contrast with "high A", but it is wrong.  Just A.

    2. Foreign rookie leagues, like DSL and VSL

    Edited by Thrylos
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    The Twins have moved prospects up quickly since Brad Steil took over when Jim Rantz retired 3-4 years ago. This is more aggressive than normal, more aggressive than we've seen for any pick in MLB in years. (Courtney Hawkins one example). 

     

    Mauer, Buxton, Correa... none of them did this. 

    To be fair, Lewis was a few months older when drafted than Correa, Lindor, Harper, Trout, Grichuk, Owings, etc. So them starting the next season at A ball wasn't that much different than Lewis getting promoted there now.  Not that Lewis is particularly old or anything.  A few lower round picks (Jon Singleton, Jake Bauers) seem to meet this criteria too.

     

    Still, I'm glad to see it with Lewis!

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    With the playoff berth locked up, Cedar Rapids is guaranteed to play through September 7, and their playoffs could extend to September 21st or so if they advance to later rounds.

     

    The GCL Twins could make their playoffs too, but their season ends earlier and the playoffs are much shorter.  Probably the longest it could go would be around September 7.

     

    So I suspect this decision might involve lengthening his season, and getting him acclimated to the Midwest League before playoff time arrives.  Still, that should have benefits going into 2018 too -- maybe that promotion to high-A will come all the sooner?

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    To be fair, Lewis was a few months older when drafted than Correa, Lindor, Harper, Trout, Grichuk, Owings, etc. So them starting the next season at A ball wasn't that much different than Lewis getting promoted there now.  Not that Lewis is particularly old or anything.  A few lower round picks (Jon Singleton, Jake Bauers) seem to meet this criteria too.

     

    Still, I'm glad to see it with Lewis!

     

    I don't think a few months in age makes that much of an impact for a kid that just turned 18 two months ago. I'd weight overall experience far more and they all had basically the same amount when entering pro ball. Having an entire professional offseason to develop, train, and mature prior to going to single A is a significant preparation advantage over a few months of age difference.

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    The Twins have moved prospects up quickly since Brad Steil took over when Jim Rantz retired 3-4 years ago. This is more aggressive than normal, more aggressive than we've seen for any pick in MLB in years. (Courtney Hawkins one example). 

     

    Mauer, Buxton, Correa... none of them did this. 

    I like the asterisk you normally put in about signing dates...

     

    Yes, Mauer hit .400 in his time at Elizabethton, but it was only 32 games. By contrast, Lewis already had played 36 games with the GCL Twins.

     

    In addition, Mauer was far and away the best prospect/player on a really strong E-ton team that lost in the finals.

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    I don't think a few months in age makes that much of an impact for a kid that just turned 18 two months ago. I'd weight overall experience far more and they all had basically the same amount when entering pro ball. Having an entire professional offseason to develop, train, and mature prior to going to single A is a significant preparation advantage over a few months of age difference.

    I guess a better way to express it, rather than age, would be signing date.  The deadline used to be later.  Owings, Lindor, and Harper didn't even sign until August 11/15/16, respectively.  Lewis isn't really doing something they failed to do in their first year, so much as they didn't have the chance.

     

    And actually, Mike Trout did get promoted to the Midwest League in his draft year, on September 1st.  And he signed about 2 weeks later than Lewis, so it's roughly an equal accomplishment, I'd say.

     

    Of course, pointing out the other circumstances around his promotion is hardly being critical of Lewis.  Still an outstanding group of comparables!

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    I guess a better way to express it, rather than age, would be signing date.  The deadline used to be later.  Owings, Lindor, and Harper didn't even sign until August 11/15/16, respectively.  Lewis isn't really doing something they failed to do in their first year, so much as they didn't have the chance.

     

    And actually, Mike Trout did get promoted to the Midwest League in his draft year, on September 1st.  And he signed about 2 weeks later than Lewis, so it's roughly an equal accomplishment, I'd say.

     

    Of course, pointing out the other circumstances around his promotion is hardly being critical of Lewis.  Still an outstanding group of comparables!

     

    Ah, that makes a lot more sense. I'm really glad MLB worked out that system so draftees get in and get started so much sooner. Seeing guys lose almost a year of development while hashing out money was a pretty painful process.

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    I like the asterisk you normally put in about signing dates...

     

    Yes, Mauer hit .400 in his time at Elizabethton, but it was only 32 games. By contrast, Lewis already had played 36 games with the GCL Twins.

     

    In addition, Mauer was far and away the best prospect/player on a really strong E-ton team that lost in the finals.

     

    Mauer was also a catcher, so he didn't play everyday either. 

    If the Twins would have promoted Lewis to E-Town, he would have been far and away their best prospect (maybe player) too. 

    That's why any time we talk about GCL or ET numbers, we have to remember that none of them really play every day. There are guys (prospects) that play more, but even Watkins said that they are not going to play Lewis every day, remembering that he is still acclimating to pro ball, playing so many games, etc.

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    Good interview with Royce on the latest mlb.com pipeline podcast.

     

    Callis and Mayo talked about him a little bit afterward, gave some context to his performance so far this year. The big takeaway was their discussion of him at SS. They agree with the general position to keep a prospect at the toughest position until they can't do it anymore, and they seemed somewhat optimistic that he can ultimately be serviceable at SS. They even hinted that some of the conversation about Lewis moving to CF was driven as much by the thought he would be really good out there rather than he has no chance to stick at SS.

     

    If he could become an average SS, but possibly elite CF, that is an interesting conversation of where to develop him.

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    This is outstanding news, and I'm glad it's happening already rather than waiting a couple more weeks. He has nothing more to prove.*


    *This opinion may or may not be influenced by the fact that I have a business trip taking me to eastern Iowa, arriving on the 19th when the Kernels play Beloit.

     

    I know it's lame to quote your own post, but it would be fun to have a Twins Daily gathering in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (the 19th). Any takers? 

    I grew up south of Iowa City and went to a bazillion game at old Vets Memorial as a kid, but I've only been to the new digs once. If someone has a suggestion on a good place to gather before the game, I'm all ears. 

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