Where does Royce Lewis fit into the Minnesota Twins’ plans?

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 17: Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey of the Minnesota Twins holds up a jersey with number one overall draft pick Royce Lewis and agent Scott Boras at a press conference on June 17, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 17: Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey of the Minnesota Twins holds up a jersey with number one overall draft pick Royce Lewis and agent Scott Boras at a press conference on June 17, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins have high hopes for their No. 1 overall pick from the 2017 MLB draft, but where could he wind up once he gets to Minnesota?

Back in the summer of 2017, the Minnesota Twins had an important decision on their hands. Coming off a 103-loss season in 2016, the Twins had “earned the right” to select first in the 2017 MLB Draft.  Even though Hunter Greene, who had gained popularity by appearing on a Sports Illustrated cover, appeared to be the sure pick, the Twins went in another direction, selecting shortstop Royce Lewis with the top pick.

The decision drew some controversy due to Greene’s popularity, but as Lewis wraps up his second full professional season in the Arizona Fall League, it appears that the Twins may have made the correct choice. In four games with the Salt River Rafters, Lewis has stung the ball, hitting .333 with a pair of home runs and six RBI.

While that is a small sample size, it shows what kind of player Lewis could become at the major league level despite what was a down year in 2019. After battling an oblique injury during the early part of the season, the 20-year old struggled with High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola, hitting a combined .236/.290/.371 with 12 HR, 49 RBI and 22 stolen bases on 32 attempts.

Those numbers dropped off significantly from his 2018 campaign (.292/.352/.451, 14 HR, 74 RBI, 28 stolen bases on 36 attempts), but still was able to make the MLB Futures Game and has looked much better in the early going of the AFL.

With a bounce-back season likely on tap in 2020 for the Twins prospect, who checked in at 22nd in Baseball America’s midseason Top 100 prospects list, his future is one that should have Twins fans excited. But the bigger question about Lewis’ future is where he is going to play.

Throughout his minor league career, that answer has been on the left side of the infield. With Lewis playing primarily at shortstop, Minnesota has also had him try second and third base for a game each this season. With that, the Twins could have another impact infielder on their hands, but that could also change with the emergence of Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano entrenched as key cogs in the Twins lineup.

Another possibility for Lewis could be in the outfield, which has been put to use during the AFL. Lewis has looked comfortable playing in center field and although there seem to be plenty of outfielders on the way in Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, Lewis could stick in the outfield if the concerns about Byron Buxton‘s long-term durability are true.

Then there’s also the other possibility, which is using Lewis as a trade chip. The Twins turned down several overtures for Lewis at the trade deadline, however, and unless a team is willing to give up a ridiculous return to get him, it’s likely he’ll stay put through the winter.

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Although we may be looking at a late-2020 or early 2021 debut for Lewis, his ceiling remains the same. If his bat can come around soon enough, we could see him in a Twins uniform sooner than later.

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