Royce Lewis made his debut for the Twins on May 6, and he went on to play a total of 11 Major League games. Lewis has slashed .308/.325/.564 while filling in for Carlos Correa, and he has contributed six extra-base hits, two of which have left the yard. Maybe most importantly in assessing how he’s looked offensively is that Lewis struck out just five times across 40 plate appearances.
It seemed pretty silly to bet against a player with this much talent after talking to him this offseason. Still, though, there was going to be a prove-it period for a guy who hadn’t played a game in two seasons. Lewis did that, tearing up Triple-A while playing in the cold. He earned this promotion with a .310/.430/.563 line across his first 24 games for the St. Paul Saints. When in the lineup for Minnesota, he looked the part of a regular in every sense of the word.
Unfortunately, this storyline appeared likely from the moment it was announced Correa’s injury wasn’t serious. While it’s great that the Twins get back their major offseason acquisition, it left a huge question mark as to how Lewis would find his way into the lineup. After all, a talent this good couldn’t sit on the bench.
That leads us to where we are now, and the only way Minnesota can save face. Lewis has played four innings at the hot corner in his professional career, and he’s never played a corner outfield position. I don’t think he’s an option at first base, and that’s probably for the best when considering how limiting the position would be for his abilities. What it all boils down to is a guy needing to get comfortable in new roles.
I can’t imagine a shift to third base would be anything monumental for Lewis. He hung in just fine as a Major League shortstop, and the throws would be less demanding from the hot corner. He’s played centerfield, and he provides a right-handed outfield bat if Minnesota wants to go that route. Left field at Target Field takes a bit of getting used to, but it would be more about reading the ball from that portion of the field that he’ll get an opportunity to see for the Saints.
The path forward is as straight as can be for Minnesota’s front office. Lewis must be given starts at multiple positions as quickly as possible. He’s already shown an ability to produce offensively at the Triple-A level, and the early Major League returns are more than promising. Once he’s acclimated to new roles around the diamond, and that shouldn’t take long, a recall has to be scheduled.
Correa was the get of the winter and Lewis plays the same position. It’s understandable to take a step back even after a great 11-game debut. If Lewis isn’t on the fast track to return to playing everywhere, or if this winds up being service time suppression, then there’s no denying the move was a poor one. The Twins aren’t running away with the division by any means, and the lineup needs to be infused with all the talent it can handle.
Ultimately, a positive takeaway here is that the Twins aren't afraid to act aggressively with a top talent that has missed so much time. Lewis was never going to factor into the shortstop plans this season with Correa here unless the opportunity arose and he'd earned it. Playing just 24 games after two years off, he became the obvious choice. As he goes back, he can be utilized at shortstop and elsewhere on the field, again allowing for aggressive action when an opportunity presents itself.
There are no grandiose declarations to be made from a sample size as small as 11 games. There’s also no excuse for a player to be held back from contribution while failing to exhaust every opportunity to find a workable path forward. Royce Lewis is here, the time is now, and getting him back across town can’t be more than a three-week process.