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  • Despite Great First Impression, Royce Lewis Optioned to St. Paul After Tuesday's Game


    Seth Stohs

    In a move that will likely surprise many when you wake up on Wednesday morning, the Twins announced after last night's loss that Carlos Correa will be activated on Wednesday. To make room, Royce Lewis will be optioned to St. Paul. 

    Image courtesy of Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

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    So many thoughts role through my mind as I think about the news that the Twins are optioning shortstop Royce Lewis to Triple-A St. Paul and will activate Carlos Correa before the Wednesday afternoon's game. So I thought I'd just start jotting them down. 

    *** Click here to listen to @Seth Stohs and @Dave Overlund discuss the Lewis option decision on WJON Radio in St. Cloud.  

    What more could Lewis have done?
    Nothing. He did everything the Twins could have hoped during that 11-game stretch, and more. Put another way, he likely made this decision incredibly difficult. 

    After going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run on Tuesday night, he is hitting .308/.325/.564 (.889) with four doubles and two home runs. In 11 games. 

    As impressive as he was at the plate, he was equally impressive at shortstop. Yes, he had a couple of errors, but he also made some plays that were tough and showed that he absolutely can play the position. His arm is plenty strong. He's got good range. His instincts at the position have come a long way. 

    Stick to the Plan
    We speak so often of not being swayed too much by a small sample. While 11 games is a nice little stretch, it is still less than 40 plate appearances. 

    When Carlos Correa was injured, the plan was for Royce Lewis to come up and play shortstop until Correa returned, whether that was two months (as initially feared) or two weeks (as became the reality). When Correa returned, Lewis would be returned to St. Paul and continue to get everyday playing time and at-bats and reps at shortstop and such. 

    Royce Lewis looked the part of Big Leaguer
    Despite spending the Covid-shortened 2020 season at the alternate site and missing all of the 2021 season after surgery for a torn ACL, Lewis got off to a terrific start in St. Paul. And, as mentioned above, Lewis was immensely impressive during his time with the Twins. Forget about the numbers for a minute (and that's not easy to do), Lewis looked like a future star. He looked comfortable at the plate. He looked confident. He looked relaxed. He was clearly having the time of his life as evidenced by frequent big smiles and conversations on the field with teammates and opponents. He showed his great speed. How showed his power potential. He showed his willingness to use the whole field. He looked comfortable at shortstop. He never looked overwhelmed. And while he had just one walk in his time with the Twins, he seemed to control his plate appearances quite well. 

    If you're a chemistry person, seeing how well he fit into the dugout was certainly encouraging. Smiling with teammates. Congratulating teammates. The hugs we saw him get from Ryan Jeffers, Byron Buxton, and others. Sitting on the bench, observing the game, often sitting between Correa and Buxton. Lewis also shows leadership skills. Lewis is not one to take over a locker room, and yet, you'd be hard-pressed to find any former teammates who didn't love him. Again, even with him being the new guy on the roster, he showed that he can lead on the field. 

    The Role Moving Forward 
    Clearly, the plan would still be for Lewis to be the team's primary shortstop of the future (much depending on what Correa decides in the offseason. However, because Lewis is a special talent and just made a great first impression, the team will want him in the big leagues more. To do so, it appears that he is going to play around the diamond for St. Paul. 

    Remember, Lewis played shortstop only during his senior season of high school. He played third base his first three years of high school ball because J Serra had Chase Stumpf as their shortstop. But that's been six or seven years since he's had any regular time there. He has played some second base in the past, on Team USA rosters, and in the 2019 Arizona Fall League. During his MVP AFL stint, he also played a bunch of centerfield, and he made highlight-reel plays there. Can he play left field or right field? Presumably yes, but he hasn't spent a lot of time in those spots. Could he play first base? Of course. 

    So, the question becomes, should he get a little bit of time at these other positions in the big leagues, or should it happen in a less stressful minor-league situation? I think a case could be made for either side. I certainly don't disagree with Glen Perkins' thoughts. 

    However, they have made that decision, to have Lewis get a little time at those positions in the minor leagues. My thought is that doesn't need to take real long, maybe two or three weeks. Get him two or three starts at each position that they can envision him playing, and then get him back up to the big-league club. 

    Summary
    This is going to be made into a huge talker and topic among Twins fans. While I would love to see Lewis remain in the big leagues, I can certainly see the value of letting him play some other positions at Triple-A before bringing him back. I do think that making too much out of an 11-game stretch is never a good idea, and sticking to a plan makes sense. It especially makes sense with a guy who has missed so much time the last couple of years and just wants to and needs to play. 

    The Big Picture
    The future of Royce Lewis is incredibly bright. The talent is immense. The charisma and intelligence are there. The confidence and the drive to not only succeed but to thrive, is something that Lewis has always possessed. Regardless of this decision and whatever timeline the Twins front office puts on his return, I can't wait. 

    *** Click here to listen to @Seth Stohs and @Dave Overlund discuss the Lewis option decision on WJON Radio in St. Cloud.   

    Feel free to discuss, but please be civil with each other. 

     

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    One has to wonder if a small (maybe not so small?) part of this is to try to have the option of maintaining another year of control while waiting to see what Correa is going to do long term.  But if Miranda continues to struggle the way he has, they may switch gears and wait a year for Miranda and bring Lewis up again.  But if Miranda begins to hit, and Sano and Kirilloff stay on the IL, they may be grooming Miranda for long term 1st base use and that would mean Lewis staying east for a while longer.  I may be wrong, I was once, :)  but it appears to this extremely humble observer that it is going to be between Lewis and Miranda as to who stays the year and who is held back one more.  

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    For God's sake.  Everybody and their brother are either hurt or in Mendoza-range, and there've been a run of Molitor-level lineups of late.  But sure, let's take the one guy who's actually producing and exciting the fans, and stuff him back east.  It's not like he wouldn't be learning anything watching CC every day up close, and spelling him at SS when necessary.

    Oh, and let's take that other promising kid who's utterly looking lost, flailing at the plate, and costing us chances to win actual games, and keep him up on this side of the river.

    Because, let's not try to win any MLB games along the way, or anything. 

    ultra facepalm.gif

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    3 hours ago, Mark G said:

    One has to wonder if a small (maybe not so small?) part of this is to try to have the option of maintaining another year of control while waiting to see what Correa is going to do long term.  But if Miranda continues to struggle the way he has, they may switch gears and wait a year for Miranda and bring Lewis up again.  But if Miranda begins to hit, and Sano and Kirilloff stay on the IL, they may be grooming Miranda for long term 1st base use and that would mean Lewis staying east for a while longer.  I may be wrong, I was once, :)  but it appears to this extremely humble observer that it is going to be between Lewis and Miranda as to who stays the year and who is held back one more.  

    A good observation.  But Gawd Almighty, how many more seasons does Lewis need to be held back?  Miranda (thankfully) hasn't had to deal with anywhere near the same kind of setbacks Lewis has.

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    In the end it's a baseball decision. The front office certainly had to make a tough call, and anyone who follows this team probably isn't surprised. The Twins aren't known for rushing young talent, if anything they tend to leave the training wheels on for a bit too long sometimes.

    Right or wrong, it's very possible the Twins may be thinking about playing to Correa's ego here. Not saying Carlos is angry or worried about Royce being here, but maybe the Twins want to assure Carlos that he is their SS of the future. They still want to sign this guy long-term, remember....

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    There was a question in a post yesterday, why are no fans in the stands?

    This is an answer to our question. 

    Sending down Lewis is solely to suppress service time.  We are competing, he is succeeding, and the Twins send him down.   It's a bad look, and giving the fans the we want him at short everyday is a lame excuse.

    Lewis earned being in the majors.  Until he proved he needed something additional to work on, he needed to be in the majors.  Especially after everything this kid has gone through in the last couple years.  

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    1. Based on actual performance on the field. We just sent down our 4th best position player. I understand that this is my opinion. I also understand small sample sizes. I understand that he could slump in the future and settle in at a different spot in my subjective rankings.

    However... The guy was handed a job and he did that job better than most of the players who remain and it wasn't particularly close either. The team just sent down our 4th best position player in my opinion. I know we can always call him back up... it's not the end of the world... we didn't release him... but yeah... we just sent down our 4th best position player. That is always going to be hard to justify. 

    2. They were unprepared for his success. The organization was not prepped for this. Baldelli said that they are going to send him down to play SS but also get exposed to other positions. THEY ARE LATE WITH THIS PLAN!!! If it is necessary to get him exposed to other positions... it should have been done already. 

    It's disappointing that my team (that I thought was progressive) would let a positional bottleneck occur. If you have a Correa on the 26 man roster and a top prospect on the 40 man at the same position and not considering (planning) for the possibility of a different position for that position player behind Correa... you dropped the ball.

    Even if you don't have a Correa on your roster... any time a prospect has to wait in line at one position and one position only... you extend that wait... waiting for that one spot to get hurt or fail. THEY ARE LATE WITH THIS NEW PLAN!!! 

    3. Do we have to wait until Correa specifically gets hurt again to see Lewis. How long is this exposure process going to take? If Kepler or Urshela gets hurt for example next week... will Lewis need more exposure or do we call up a lesser player to play 3B or OF instead? 

    Miranda has not played well and is still here so the answer appears to be lesser players until this exposure process plays out.  

    I remain supportive of the front office but Jeez... I am disappointed. 

     

     

     

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    Man this organization can be frustrating. Why not make Bundy the piggyback and keep Winder's development on track as a starting pitcher? Why not make Lewis the 3B instead of giving at bats to Urshela? 

    Baffling. 

    This also can't be great for relations between the team and his agent.... Scott Boras. 

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    5 hours ago, Mark G said:

    One has to wonder if a small (maybe not so small?) part of this is to try to have the option of maintaining another year of control while waiting to see what Correa is going to do long term.  But if Miranda continues to struggle the way he has, they may switch gears and wait a year for Miranda and bring Lewis up again.  But if Miranda begins to hit, and Sano and Kirilloff stay on the IL, they may be grooming Miranda for long term 1st base use and that would mean Lewis staying east for a while longer.  I may be wrong, I was once, :)  but it appears to this extremely humble observer that it is going to be between Lewis and Miranda as to who stays the year and who is held back one more.  

    Royce Lewis spent a whole month in St. Paul. If he stayed in the majors the remainder of the year, it wouldn't change his eligibility for free agency. There could be the matter of salary arbitration, but the Twins will have Lewis for six more years beyond 2022. Miranda has performed poorly, but is an option at first base. 

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    I know its disappointing for Lewis to go back down and be banished to AAA, but its the best thing for him and for the organization long term.  

    Lewis is going to make the most $ being a shortstop long term, you take him out of that and the development he needs for sustained success as a SS is hampered. 

    Can we just be realist here and say the 2022 Twins team is not a championship club.  Correa isnt staying here in 2023.  If we want to have a championship roster for 2023 you need Lewis at SS. 

    Let Royce go back down work at SS get at bats, save service time.  There will be more injuries and struggles this isnt the last we see in 2022 of Royce and hopefully he gets enough work that SS in 2023 and behand is a thing!

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    This move makes no sense.  Baldelli's comments shed no light on making this change, other than we need Correa in the lineup.  Rocco must realize it is not a binary decision.  Yet he keeps Miranda up (not only up but in the lineup) despite his looking completely overmatched by big league pitching and looking clueless at the plate as evidenced by his sub .100 batting average and strikeout percentage.

    I'm trying to envision Miranda's reaction when he heard that Lewis was being sent down.  Guilt? Shock?

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    In the grand scheme of things, it will all work out. I can see the Twins trading Ursella to a desperate NL pennant contender who just lost its 3B to an injury sometime in June, for another Joe Ryan-like AAA pitcher. Then bring up Lewis to play 3B. Let's watch to see what positions Lewis plays at St Paul and we will get a better idea of what the FO has planned for Royce's immediate future. 

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    6 minutes ago, High heat said:

    I know its disappointing for Lewis to go back down and be banished to AAA, but its the best thing for him and for the organization long term.  

    Lewis is going to make the most $ being a shortstop long term, you take him out of that and the development he needs for sustained success as a SS is hampered. 

    Can we just be realist here and say the 2022 Twins team is not a championship club.  Correa isnt staying here in 2023.  If we want to have a championship roster for 2023 you need Lewis at SS. 

    Let Royce go back down work at SS get at bats, save service time.  There will be more injuries and struggles this isnt the last we see in 2022 of Royce and hopefully he gets enough work that SS in 2023 and behand is a thing!

    This also sounds reasonable. 

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    Not surprised at all.  The Twins are sticking to their plan, they obviously don't care about winning games.  Even last night.  Baldelli didn't even start warming anyone in the bullpen until after Oakland scored to go ahead.  It was obvious they needed him to pitch more to stretch him out.  Game be damned.  The game was winnable last night 2-2 late.  Winder was pitching so-so and obviously the Twins should have had the bullpen going when he walked the first guy in the 7th not to mention hitting the next batter.  Two on nobody out tied 2-2 with a struggling Winder still out there, still no one warming up.  The game, just like the decision regarding Lewis is indicative of this front office and Baldelli.  Stuck to the plan no matter if we win or not.  Maybe by the end of the year their plan will get them fired.  Remember, the wins don't matter, right?  It's obvious with a lot of these decisions this year that winning is unimportant.  They don't care!  Why is Miranda still up here?  He certainly isn't ready for the majors.  The plan, like Baldelli and the Front Office is a joke.  But Correa tells us that people who question the Twins management don't know baseball.  Oh that's right.  He's been here three whole months and knows all about it.  What a mess this front office has made.  The players they have, at least the ones who feel like playing have done a nice job to get them in first.  Our stiff manager and front office don't deserve it.  The first place is a fluke and I'm sure they don't even care as long as it doesn't interfere with their plan.

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    I have supported this front office and I’m certain I haven’t blasted them here, but that changes now…

    Josh Winder is not a bullpen pitcher, having Chris Archer (some may substitute Dylan Bundy) start over him is ridiculous. And now, sending Royce Lewis to AAA (while having stubbornly continued to bat him at the bottom of the lineup) is ridiculous. These 2 young guys are clearly a part of the future and clear upgrades over whomever they would displace. I refuse to believe that a guy who is as determined and focused as Lewis is going to be ruined by playing him out of position, off SS, this year. I call BS. I have to think this is not sitting well with the best players in the clubhouse either, or his agent. Worst move(s) of the year right here. This is a shame on the FO and manager.

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    I am in the chorus - this stinks.  Reward competence, especially exceptional play.  Wait until Royce slumps if you do not want him up.  But wait - he is out hitting Urshela and Miranda (1B and 3B).  He has more power and is outhitting Gordon who has been holding LF.  I want the bats of Buxton, Lewis, Celestino all in the lineup at the same time.  

    Maybe signing Correa was not necessary (I know that should shock some readers).

    It is the same thing with Winder vs Bundy and Archer.  Trust the process and play the best players. 

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    Bad move, boys. Miranda's batting under .100. He's still with the team? Winder back to long relief after his efforts as a starter paid off big time? Lewis sent down with a +.300 average and power to spare? A team barely nudging the needle on offense needs Lewis so long as he hits. Sending him across town to cool off? Worried about climate change? 

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    I'm not big on the conspiracy theories mentioned in the comments above (manipulating service time, catering to Correa's ego, etc.).  And I also do not know the front office thought process behind this decision.  My only comment (hope) is that the Twins sat down with Lewis and had a long, detailed discussion that outlined their plans/thinking that went into the decision to option him to AAA at this time.  He has the potential to be a force in the major leagues and this is not the time to create any mental problems/doubts for Lewis.

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    I think this is the largest head scratcher the FO has made IMO.  So they are saying the guy that has more raw physical ability on this team than any player not named Byron Buxton.  The Guy who is hitting as one of the top bats on the team and that is the guy you decide to send down?  That is the guy there is no room for?  I guess just throw all reasonable logic out the window then.  Might as well send more than half the team down then.

    So the FO is deciding that Urshela (no options left) who has been elite defensively at third cannot be moved.  With Larnach back he is the better option in Left field.  They still need Garlick (no options left) to mash Lefties.  They can't move Gordon (no options left) even though Lewis is the better version of the two.  And they don't want to waste Lewis playing 1st base so they are keeping Miranda up instead? Got it.

    I get that sending Royce back to St Paul is far from the end of the world and won't harm his development or anything it is just that the main team, the MLB team needs a spark plug.  They need a difference maker and he is already becoming that.  So count me in the camp against this being a good move for the team.  Sending him down after homering for 1 of the teams 2 runs with a 300 BA and almost 900 OPS = Stupidity if you ask me but no one is probably asking me.

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    Lol ... posters here don't disappoint.

    It surprises me that it wasn't Miranda being sent down first, but that's really the only surprise. But when they activate Larnach, it will be. When both Correa and Larnach were activated, it was always going to be for Miranda and Lewis. Who else was going to be sent down? Tell me who else was going to be sent down who could be sent down? Does Gio have options left? Arraez? Gordon? In two weeks when they have to go down to 13 pitchers and they have to bring up a position player ... who do you think it's going to be? My guess is Lewis will be back up in 2 weeks, playing everywhere. While I don't disagree with some here saying he could get those reps up here, I think there is equal argument for him getting those reps in AAA. Remember, he didn't play for two years. In spite of that, he has been outstanding ... in one position, after two years. I don't really think a lot of rust needs to be shaken off playing elsewhere given his play so far this year, but I do understand the rationale. 

     

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