Royce Lewis is off to a tremendous start to his big-league career. In nine games, he has gone 9-for-32 (.281 BA) with two doubles and a home run. His first home run was a memorable one as he cranked a grand slam that helped the Twins win over the weekend. Minnesota signed Carlos Correa to be the team’s shortstop for the 2022 campaign, and now the Twins are facing a decision about what to do with Lewis.
Option 1: Send Him to Triple-A
Obviously, this isn’t the ideal answer with how well Lewis has performed so far. However, this option ensures he plays everyday, and more importantly that he continues to get reps at shortstop. Correa is the AL’s reigning Platinum Glove winner, so the team is going to continue to play him at that position. However, Lewis has been better than advertised at shortstop, and the front office may want him to continue to develop in the minors. Sending him back to Triple-A may be the best option if the team wants to be comfortable with him taking over the full-time shortstop role to start the 2023 campaign.
Option 2: Split Time at Shortstop
Hand injuries can be tricky, so there are no guarantees that Correa returns and can play every day. Correa will likely need regular rest when he returns and that’s where Lewis comes into the picture. Keeping Lewis on the big-league roster would allow him to get reps at shortstop on Correa’s off days. Unfortunately, there isn’t a natural platoon with the two players both being right-handed hitters. This scenario hurts Lewis from the perspective that he wouldn’t be playing every day and he has missed two season’s of in-game at-bats. It seems unlikely for the Twins to pick this option, but there may be ways to use him at multiple other positions in the line-up.
Option 3: Shift to Third Base or Left Field
Another option is to try and find Lewis at-bats at other positions. Gio Urshela has provided some strong defensive plays, but he has a 91 OPS+ in 30 games. Minnesota’s left field situation is also in flux as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have both missed time with injury. Over the weekend, Kirilloff was demoted to Triple-A to try and solve his hitting woes as he continues to deal with wrist issues. In his first 69 plate appearances, he has yet to record an extra-base hit. For Lewis, he has very little professional experience at either of these defensive positions. He has never played left field and he has just over 100 innings at third base. The Twins likely have confidence in his athleticism to be able to handle both of these defensive spots if necessary.
Minnesota’s offense has struggled through different parts of the 2022 campaign, and Lewis is a dangerous hitter to pencil into the back-half of the line-up. Even with Correa’s return, it’s hard to imagine the team sending Lewis back to the minors. He needs to play everyday, and he can be a vital contributor on a contending team.
Which option do you think the Twins pick? Will they combine a couple of the options mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.