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  • Debating Minnesota’s Top Prospect: Brooks Lee vs. Royce Lewis


    Cody Christie

    Minnesota is lucky to have two of baseball’s best-position player prospects, but who should rank as the team’s top prospect entering the 2023 season?

    Image courtesy of Darren Yamashita, USA Today (Lewis), Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge (Lee)

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    Many national outlets will rank Brooks Lee as Minnesota’s top prospect entering the 2023 season. However, Royce Lewis still sits in the top spot here at Twins Daily. The franchise’s long-term performance is tied to both players. Arguments can put both players in the top spot, so let’s examine what separates these two players from each other. 

    Arguments for Brooks Lee
    Minnesota drafted Lee with the eighth overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, and the club had to be surprised that Lee was still on the board. Entering the draft, evaluators considered him the best collegiate bat, and he showcased that ability in his professional debut. Lee got his feet wet in four games with the FCL Twins before skipping Low-A and heading to Cedar Rapids. In 25 games with the Kernels, he hit .289/.395/.454 (.848) with four doubles and four home runs. But Cedar Rapids wouldn’t be his final stop, since the Twins' Double-A team, the Witchita Wind Surge, was heading for the playoffs. 

    Lee was over three years younger than the average age of the competition at Double-A, but he was indeed able to hold his own. He helped Wichita make a run to the Texas League Championship before the team eventually fell short of the title. It was an impressive start to his professional career, and there is plenty of optimism surrounding his future. 

    Lee is a switch-hitter with a tremendous ability to make consistent contact. In 115 collegiate games, he had more walks (64) than strikeouts (63). He has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields, and he will likely improve his power numbers as he continues to mature. His dad is a college coach, so he has grown up around the game, which will help him continue to rise through the Twins system. 

    The Twins drafted Lee as a shortstop, and there is some thought that he will need to move to third base when he adds more muscle to his frame. If Lee isn't going to be a shortstop at the big-league level, that's why some rank Lewis as a higher prospect.

    Arguments for Royce Lewis
    The Twins took Lewis with the number one overall pick back in 2017. A lot of pressure comes with being selected 1-1, but Lewis continues to show promise. The pandemic and a torn ACL meant he didn’t play in a competitive game for over two years. He returned from injury in 2022 and made a strong first impression at the Triple-A level. In 34 games, he hit .300/.405/.534 (.940) with 12 doubles, a triple, and five home runs. Some may have thought his knee surgery would hamper his speed, but he was successful in 12-of-14 stolen base attempts. It certainly looked like Lewis was ready for the big-league level. 

    When a pitch hit Carlos Correa, it looked like the Twins may need to turn shortstop over to Lewis for multiple months. Instead, Correa didn’t suffer any broken bones, and Lewis made a brief but impactful debut. In 12 games, he went 12-for-40 (.300 BA) with four doubles and two home runs. Unfortunately, he crashed into the center field wall, tearing his ACL for the second consecutive season. Lewis will not be ready to start the season, which has the Twins searching for other shortstop options. 

    His defense has significantly improved since joining the Twins organization, with some evaluators thinking he can stick at shortstop in the big leagues. There is no way to know how he will respond to a second ACL surgery, but he lost little speed from the first surgery. Minnesota will test the free agent waters this winter for one of the top shortstops, but the front office may also be comfortable with Lewis being the shortstop of the future. 

    Currently, I have Lee ranked higher than Lewis because of his age and potentially elite bat. Who do you think is Minnesota’s top prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    I cannot make a judgment.  I have not seen them both play, I am not qualified, I am just excited to see them progress and please do not let Royce go out on an icy day or play CF again.  If Lee can stay healthy he will already be ahead of Lewis.  Now I hope they let Lee progress as quick as possible - we are seeing a lot of young rookies the past three years, and get Lewis ready as quickly as possible. 

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    I hope both are playing with the Twins in the near future and we can debate who is the better player because both are doing great.  As for prospect, I think it is very close.  I would give the nod to who defends better, and Lewis looked like he could stick at SS in the short sample I saw.  Lee may be able to as well, there have been some bigger SS in history that did just fine. 

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    Lee needs to be the starting shortstop at Wiochita. Lewis gets a little time in St. Paul. Austin Martin also moves to St. Paul  and plays, where? Probably in the outfield, but at shortstop when Lewis is advanced.

    Yes, who will b the Twins starting shortstop for the first month of 2023.

    If, and when, Lewis comes up, do we let him stay and work anything and everything out if he doesn't dominate in the majors? 

    The Twins can sign a good fill-in ultility guy for shortstop (like Adrianza of old). You would hope Julien would be ready sometime during the season to push that signing out of the backup-reserve position, giving the Twins a decent bench duo of Gordon and Julien.

    The Twins will shortly sink or swim on home grown prospects.

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    Both are great prospects, but if we have to split hairs I’d go Lee as 1A and Lewis as 1B. My hope is that neither one is our starting SS for the next 5 years - that’s Correa.  But each could still start - one at 2B and the other at 3B, 

    Regardless of ranking, the Twins have five non pitching prospects who should constitute the new young core on the ‘24 team: Lee, Lewis, Martin, Julien, and Wallner. All need to find playing time in the bigs next season - Lee has the pedigree to be rushed a bit. Assuming Buxton, Correa, Arraez, Jeffers and Gordon (he’s proven his spot) are still around, that’s 10 position players. An additional C and hopefully Kiriloff and Larnach round out our top 13. Celestino is still young too. If Correa is signed, Lee and Lewis mean Urshela and Polanco could be gone before the deadline (unless we are contending). 

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    4 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    Both are great prospects, but if we have to split hairs I’d go Lee as 1A and Lewis as 1B. My hope is that neither one is our starting SS for the next 5 years - that’s Correa.  But each could still start - one at 2B and the other at 3B, 

    Regardless of ranking, the Twins have five non pitching prospects who should constitute the new young core on the ‘24 team: Lee, Lewis, Martin, Julien, and Wallner. All need to find playing time in the bigs next season - Lee has the pedigree to be rushed a bit. Assuming Buxton, Correa, Arraez, Jeffers and Gordon (he’s proven his spot) are still around, that’s 10 position players. An additional C and hopefully Kiriloff and Larnach round out our top 13. Celestino is still young too. If Correa is signed, Lee and Lewis mean Urshela and Polanco could be gone before the deadline (unless we are contending). 

    Sorry, forgot Miranda. It’s hard to keep track of all our young talent!  We  ideally have some good competition brewing over the next couple of years. 

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    17 hours ago, James said:

    They are really prospects 1A and 1B.  I don't think it matters where you put either one.  So much potential for both. 

    This.

     

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    I'm going to be kind of wishy washy on this "debate" and just say that I'm pretty happy we have both and even though they are both projected to be a SS, one of them probably won't end up there.  I'm going to predict Lewis ends up at SS and Lee becomes a 3B who will be the next Chipper Jones.  I'll take that.  

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    The Twins position players look to have such a bright future. 
     

    I think this core coming up complemented by a few pieces already here has a chance to be very special. 
     

    I imagine Lee will end up at 3rd, Lewis at SS, Julien at 2nd, Kiriloff at 1st, and I am a big believer of Jeffers at catcher.  
     

    With an outfield of Austin Martin, Buxton and Larnach. 
     

    With Arraez and Gordon in utility. 
     

    It has potential to be a special core as we saw in the early 2000’s. 
     

    The only thing missing is the ceiling of the pitching. Hopefully Ryan, Ober, Varland, Woods-Richardson, Winder, and a few others in the bullpen emerge like Duran.  
     

    I think it can all come together for many years starting in 2024.  I think we can compete next year as well, but I truly hope we don’t overpay Correa. I also hope we get a new Manager. I think Rocco is bad at game management. 

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    Both are potential impact players, which is the key to excellent teams. Hopefully the FO won’t be tempted to trade either one for pitching this offseason. Their record of recent trades is not very good. 

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    20 hours ago, Rosterman said:

    Yes, who will b the Twins starting shortstop for the first month of 2023.

    First month? That's optimistic for Lewis' timeline. I say move Lewis to 3rd and sign a proven SS. I mean, we just had an article about how disappointing Sano was - all promise throughout the minors and his rookie year, then what? I don't want to push all in on either of these prospects to cover SS when I'm not convinced yet either will stick there. But I'm glad we have both Lewis and Lee. It's a silly article asking 'which one?'

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    It's really no debate , they are both talented players and glad to have them  ...

    Let's hope they have long healthy careers and battle their butts off for a twins world series victory  ...

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    Like others in this post I'll say that I like both equally.  I have a little more confidence in Lewis since we've seen him in the majors and he excelled albeit in a small sample size.

    I'd ask the Twins to hold on to both of them and let us enjoy watching them improve over the years.

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    Sometimes fate just hands you an unexpected treasure. There is no way Justin Jefferson should have fallen to the Vikings at #22 in the 2020 draft.  Just like Lee shouldn’t have fallen to the Twins in last year’s draft.

    Maybe Lee is the Twins’ JJ……..just have a feeling about it,  

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    Top Prospect is a Top Prospect. I'm always more curious about who might make the majors, and when, and at what position.

    Austin Martin is/was in that mix, too.....and could till be after AFL.

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