Royce Lewis

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Royce Oliver Lewis

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Biographical Information[edit]

Royce Lewis was the first overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft, selected by the Minnesota Twins out of Junipero Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano, CA. His selection was a bit of a surprise, because while he as considered to be a top-ten talent, other names had been mentioned more often as the most likely first selection. While he played shortstop as a senior, he had played third base and outfield in previous years and was considered to have the tools to play centerfield as well. He was described as a very athletic player with excellent batting and fielding skills who was expected to develop power in future years. It was rumored that the Twins had struck a pre-draft deal to sign Lewis to a contract somewhat below slot value, after having backed off from another potential top choice, University of Louisville P/1B Brendan McKay, because of what were characterized as excessive financial demands. On June 17th, the Twins signed Lewis to a contract including a signing bonus of $6,275 million.

Lewis was assigned to the GCL Twins to begin his career. He began it with a bang as he connected for a home run in his first career plate appearance on June 26th. He had a very solid initial season between the Gulf Coast League and the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Midwest League, hitting .279/.381/.407 in 54 games, with 54 runs scored and 27 RBIs. He also stole 18 bases in 21 attempts. In 2018, he split the year between Cedar Rapids and the Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League, hitting .292/.352/.451 in 121 games to confirm his prospect status. He belted 29 doubles and 14 homers while driving in 74 runs and scoring 83.

He was named to the roster of the American League team for the 2019 Futures Game. He once again played for two different teams that season, starting off at Fort Myers and finishing up in AA with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Southern League. In spite of his taking part in the mid-season showcase, his hitting regressed, as he batted .236/.290/.371, with 12 homers and 49 RBIs. But when he was sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season, he tore the circuit apart, batting .353 and slugging .565. The Twins were unable to find out which of the two Royces was the real one, because the minor leagues were shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. He spent that summer at the team's alternate training site, but in 2021 he was unable to play any games after he tore his ACL in spring training. He kept up his competitive juices by playing a lot of mini golf an by bowling that summer. By spring training in 2022, he had become a bit of a forgotten man, with a number of top draft picks from more recent vintages getting the hype that was once his, even though he was still only 22 when that season started.

He began the 2022 season in AAA with the St. Paul Saints and batted .310 in his first 24 games, with 3 homers, 21 runs scored and 11 RBIs. In spite of this strong start, he would likely not have been called up were it not for an injury to SS Carlos Correa, which brought him to Minnesota on May 6th. He started that game against the Oakland Athletics at shortstop, batting 7th and went 1 for 4 in a 2-1 win. On May 13th, he hit his first career homer, and it was a grand slam, hit off Bryan Shaw of the Cleveland Guardians in a 12-8 win. He was only the second player in Twins history to have his first career long ball come with the bases loaded, after Danny Valencia. On May 29th, in his first game back after been called up a second time, he crashed into the center field fence making a catch of an Emmanuel Rivera fly ball against the Kansas City Royals and sufered a season-ending injury, tearing his ACL. He finished the season at .300 with 2 homers and 5 RBIs in 12 games.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rhett Bollinger: "Twins pick 'elite athlete' Lewis No. 1 overall", mlb.com, June 12, 2017. [1]
  • Rhett Bollinger: "'Patient' Lewis wise beyond his years: Twins' top prospect slashed .279/.381/.407 in Minors as 18-year-old", mlb.com, January 21, 2018. [2]
  • Do-Hyoung Park: "'I'm young and I'm having fun': Lewis' first HR a grand slam", mlb.com, May 14, 2022. [3]

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