Royce Lewis was by no means a consensus top pick in the wide selection of 2017 mock drafts. Hunter Greene was the golden boy, Brendan McKay a high-floor option and Kyle Wright hailed from college baseball haven Vanderbilt.
His tools were worthy of selection at the top, especially his bat. Many worried about his defensive stability at shortstop, eyeing a move to centerfield a la Billy Hamilton. Not the burner that Billy is (who is?), Lewis can run exceptionally well and his glove is of no concern. It’s the arm.
On draft day, he was announced as the number one selection by the Minnesota Twins, who planned to roll him out at shortstop and see how he took to it at the lower levels of the minor leagues in his rookie season.
For the Gulf Coast League Twins, he played at short in all 36 of his games, walking more times (19) than he struck out (17) and stealing 15 bases (caught just twice) while hitting .271 with a .390 OBP and three home runs.
His defensive play was superb, converting 124/128 chances (97 percent fielding percentage) and the Twins brass loved what they saw. After roughly a month and a half in rookie ball, he was promoted to Low-A on Saturday, entering full season ball as a first-year player. Not that this is groundbreaking territory, but he is a high school product and is just barely 18 years old (as of June 5th), so it’s still nothing to shake a bat at.
In his debut for the Twins Low-A club, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the blue chipper posted a standout performance. Suiting up at shortstop, Lewis went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
All four hits were singles for Minnesota’s top prospect and he quickly shows that his level advancement was the right call and his future is as bright as any of 2017’s drafted players.
Lewis and the Twins’ next best prospect Nick Gordon both have shortstop in their portfolio. Thankfully that didn’t deter the Twins from taking the guy they wanted and both Gordon (to second base) and Lewis (to centerfield) could end up away from that position anyhow.
That’s there not here. But in the here column, Minnesota’s farm system is rapidly improving and greatly enhanced by the arrival —and immediate production— of Royce Lewis.