Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Draft, Day one: Twins roll with Royce (Lewis)

Royce Lewis plays third base in 2016 for
Jserra Catholic High School.
I didn't, obviously, see that one coming.

I wrote eight posts that were sufficiently draft-related that I tagged it with "2017 draft." I wrote two Monday print columns, including this week's, about the draft. Never did I mention Royce Lewis, who wound up Monday night as the Twins' selection as a top overall pick.

The basic idea -- selecting somebody who would sign for considerably less than slot to save money for later picks -- I foresaw. My error was in seeing MacKenzie Gore, left-handed prep pitcher, as that somebody. As it turned out, the Padres had Gore as their favored fall back from local prospect Hunter Greene at No. 3, and that limited the incentive for Gore to cut a deal.

Both Gore and Lewis are said to be "advised" by Scott Boras, and Boras probably figured that if the Twins took Brendan McKay, Kyle Wright or Greene first that Lewis would fall to fifth or lower.

Lewis was pretty consistently seen as the best prep position player prospect. He's "toolsy," with speed and power, and played both shortstop and outfield in high school (a private school in San Juan Capistrano in southern California).

The Twins say they think Lewis can stick at shortstop; that is not a universal assessment, and it may be tested pretty early, since he and Wander Javier, a Dominican who beat Miguel Sano's Twins bonus record, figure to be at roughly the same level. Only one of them can play short at a time.

The Twins apparently saw the top players in this draft class as essentially equal; they drafted the one who would sign for the least. That is a fairly common strategy so far in the (short) bonus pool era, which (despite the Hunter Greene hype) hasn't truly featured a "generational" prospect.


I had expected that the Twins would take local product Sam Carlson of Burnsville if the right-hander reached them at picks 35 and 37. He did, and they didn't.

No. 35 was Brent Rooker, an outfielder from Mississippi State who dominated the difficult SEC as a hitter. The Twins drafted him last year as a redshirt sophomore but didn't sign him. Obviously they still wanted him. He's probably limited to left field or first base defensively, and he's likely to be old for the first league he's assigned to.

No. 37 was Landon Leach, a right-handed pitcher from a high school in Ontario. Presumably the Twins like him more than Carlson.

The Twins have the first pick today when the draft resumes with the third round.


The less said about Monday's Twins game, the better. The Twins optioned out Chris Heston to reinstate Jorge Polanco from the bereavement list and probably regretted that decision before the game was over, as Adalberto Mejia didn't get through four innings.

The Twins have a doubleheader coming before they have another off day, and they burned through a lot of relievers on Monday, so they'll be going back to 13 pitchers soon. And unless its to replace somebody going on the disabled list, it won't be Heston.

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