Shortstop Royce Lewis, one of the Twins’ top prospects, has torn his ACL and will likely miss the entire 2021 season, Twins president Derek Falvey told reporters, including Betsy Helfand of the of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Wednesday. Lewis, 21, was the first overall pick in the 2017 draft out of JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. Thanks to the pandemic, we didn’t get to see his progress at the minor-league level last season, but Lewis played 127 games between Class A-Advanced and Double-A in 2019, hitting .236/.290/.371 with 26 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 49 RBI, 73 runs and 22 steals.
It’s true that those numbers aren’t very impressive, but Lewis also tore it up in the Arizona Fall League following the regular season, slashing .353/.411/.565 with 20 RBI and 21 runs in his 22 games.
Still, at least some of the shine has worn off Lewis the past few years in prospect-ranking circles. He went from number nine to 29 in two years at Baseball America and from five to 17 at MLB.com. Our R.J. Anderson ranked Lewis as the second-best prospect in Minnesota’s farm system earlier this winter. He’s part of what he had to say:
Lewis entered the 2019 season in contention for the title of “baseball’s best prospect (other than Wander Franco).” Unfortunately, he had a rough season. He didn’t take well to a swing change, leaving him out of whack for much of the year. He also didn’t look any better at shortstop, suggesting his long-term defensive home might be in center, where his speed could make him an asset. Lewis is still young and talented enough to give another year, but there’s far more risk associated with him and his profile than it seemed just two years ago.
Lewis was drafted out of high school and still will only be 22 next season when he hits Double-A — and probably, later in the year, Triple-A. That’s still plenty young. Even if his stock has fallen, there are plenty top-30 prospects who become stars in the majors. We’ve seen the promise in spurts.
The bottom line is this is obviously bad news in the short term, but there’s still hope for Lewis to pan out in the long term.