The Minnesota Twins announced that they would promote their top draft pick to Cedar Rapids on Saturday
The Minnesota Twins drafted shortstop Royce Lewis #1 overall in the 2017 draft out of high school in California. Lewis has played this season with the Gulf Coast League Twins affiliate, which is a typical starting spot for a high school players, but his promotion was not to the typical first promotion spot for a high school player, Elizabethton in the advanced rookie Appalachian League, but straight to low-A Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League!
The Twins have done a similar thing already with their 2017 draft picks in promotions when they promoted first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Brent Rooker opened his professional career with Elizabethton, but instead of going up the next step to Cedar Rapids when he was promoted, he went straight to the Florida State League to the high-A Fort Myers Miracle.
Let’s take a look at Lewis…
About Royce Lewis
I do a lot of writing about the draft. I had 14 mock drafts done when all was said and done before June’s draft this season between two different sites. Lewis was a guy that I studied quite a bit, and needless to say, he’s far exceeding expectations.
Among the draft class, Lewis was by far the highest ceiling up-the-middle high school player. Sure, Hunter Greene could throw the ball hard, but he was not a great defensive shortstop and likely would have ended up at third base or an outfield corner down the road. Lewis’ biggest concern defensively entering the season was whether he profiled best as a shortstop, second baseman, or center fielder. He answered that quickly this spring in his high school season by showing off the hard work he’d done over the winter on his defensive reads and positioning, making a future at shortstop a more sure thing.
Lewis all along had what was considered one of the two or three best “contact” bats in the draft, with a profile that expected to fill out with moderate power and maintain speed through his prime years due to an extremely explosive athletic build. In spite of all that positive to write about him, many were caught off guard when Lewis was announced as the top draft pick on draft night, though the plan became abundantly clear as Lewis’ signing bonus was over $1M less than others rumored to go #1, allowing the Twins to draft a number of excellent players later in the draft that have already shown to be as advertised before the draft.
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Lewis accepted the doubters and attempted to silence them immediately, hitting a home run in his first plate appearance as a professional on June 26th with GCL.
Lewis overall hit .271/.390/.414 with Cedar Rapids, flashing his explosive athleticism frequently with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 home runs while stealing 15 bases (and only getting caught twice). Incredibly, Lewis also had a 19/17 BB/K ratio, meaning he walked more than he struck out with the GCL.
Lewis just on Thursday made a huge impression on one scout, who witnessed Lewis go 0-4, reaching on error and on a walk, but stealing 3 bases. Remarkably, that also included a steal of home in the first inning.
Lewis certainly looks comfortable in his new duds! Tonight is “beach jersey night”, so he will get a shot to be in a fun extra jersey today in his debut. The other fun part for fans in Cedar Rapids is that outfielder Aaron Whitefield, one of the most toolsy, exciting young players in the Twins organization was activated today from the DL, so he and Lewis will both be at the top of the lineup – talk about a nightmare for opposing pitchers!