Let’s get back to 2017 MLB Draft coverage, picking up the pace with profiles by taking a look at Royce Lewis, a potential early first-round pick from high school in California.
Lewis is a 6-2, 190 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born June 15th, 1999. Attending JSerra high school in San Juan Capistrano, California, he has a long track record with scouts, dating back to impressive underclassmen showcase performances in 2015. A pre-season 2017 Perfect Game/Rawlings All-American, Lewis is committed to the University of California-Irvine but is expected to be signable if drafted where his talent warrants.
Lewis has no weak tools: all of his athletic attributes are at least average. He’s a 60-65 runner and should hold onto that speed as he matures, given how scouts perceive the ease of his actions in the field: Perfect Game refers to him as a “graceful athlete who does everything smoothly.” His instincts work well on the bases, giving him projection as a 20+ stolen base threat, and his range plays well at both shortstop and the outfield.
Arm strength grades range from 50 to 55 depending on the source; there’s some disagreement on that issue and not everyone believes the arm will work at shortstop, although in the big picture that’s a minor concern if he hits as expected.
His swing as mechanically sound with above-average hit feel for his age; he should hit for average and post sound on-base percentages. Power potential grades vary from 50 to 60 but everyone agrees that he should provide at least average extra-base thump given his impressive bat speed. In general he is a very well-rounded offensive prospect who could become a 20-homer, 20-steal, high-OBP player at a premium defensive position.
It isn’t so much a weakness as it is an uncertainty, but it is unclear what position he’ll play in the long run. Optimists believe he can remain at shortstop due to his instincts, while pessimists think his arm will work better at second base. Everyone agrees he should show the range to handle center, but opinions vary on if his arm would be sufficient for right field if he slows down too much to handle center when he gets older.
Defensive projection will determine if Lewis is a top five pick or more of a middle first rounder.
Multiple sources indicate that the Minnesota Twins, with the first pick in the draft, have Lewis on their short list to study. Right now it seems more likely to outside observers that fellow California prep Hunter Greene or University of Louisville LHP/1B Brendan McKay will go first-overall, but Lewis is in the conversation at least. Baseball America has Lewis ranked Number Seven on their most recent list of Top 100 draft prospects and that seems a fair assessment of his standing.