Gleyber, Acuña, Hiura ... now Royce Lewis
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After a regular season filled with ups and downs, seemingly everything went right for Royce Lewis in the Arizona Fall League.
The Twins’ No. 1 prospect was named the league’s MVP and finished among the league leaders in several offensive categories.
“It’s pretty special,” Lewis said prior to Saturday’s championship game. “I’m just glad my family and friends are able to come out today and celebrate with me.”
Lewis wasted no time getting started as he went 3-for-7 with a double, homer and three RBIs in his first three games. From there, Lewis just kept raking and picking up accolades. As a former No. 1 overall Draft pick (2017) and the No. 9 prospect (the second highest in the AFL) in all of baseball, it seemed like it’d be tough for Lewis to exceed expectations, but he may have done just that.
He led the league with 30 hits and slashed .353/.411/.565 with three homers and 20 RBIs over 22 games.
Lewis also won the Fall Stars Game MVP Award with a two-run homer in the East’s 4-2 win over the West and was named the Championship Chains Hitter of the Week after going 6-for-10 in the fourth week of the AFL season.
While success is never the result of just one thing, Lewis came to Arizona hoping to improve his plate discipline and feels he was able to do accomplish that goal.
“A lot better,” Lewis said when asked about his approach. “I think any kind of reps you can get, any in-game reps are always better and they always help you out, especially when you are trying to focus and work on something. Honestly, I think just putting in a little more focus and a little more effort, and playing a little more free always helps.”
The strong AFL performance was big for Lewis, who hit .236/.290/.371 over 127 games with Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola during the regular season.
Despite being just 20 years old, Lewis knows that baseball has its ebbs and flows and that struggles are simply a part of it all. The confidence never wavered, which helped Lewis reset his mind and enter the Fall League ready to perform.
“Cindy and I are very happy with how he has handled the downs of a long season,” William Lewis, Royce’s father, said. “How he has matured and learned to bounce back after adversity.”
Lewis certainly rebounded in Arizona, and while the offensive numbers jump off the page, Lewis also made big strides defensively and increased his versatility.
The Twins are still committed to developing Lewis as a shortstop, but in order to get him the necessary at-bats, Lewis had to move around the diamond and logged innings at second base, third base and center field.
Whether it’s a more advanced approach or some additional defensive versatility, there’s a lot for Lewis to take away from his AFL experience. But, perhaps more than anything else, Lewis said he learned what it means to truly be a professional, a lesson that will serve him well once he arrives in Minnesota.
“Whenever the day comes, I now understand and know how to be a pro and how to be a professional and go about my business,” Lewis said. “Whether I get a hit or not, whether I make an error or make a great Gold Glove defensive play, I’ll be the same person everyday.”
Here is the complete list of Arizona Fall League Joe Black MVP Award winners:
2018 -- Keston Hiura (Brewers), 2B, Peoria Javelinas
2017 -- Ronald Acuna (Braves, OF, Peoria Javelinas
2016 – Gleyber Torres (Yankees), SS, Scottsdale Scorpions
2015 -- Adam Engel (White Sox), OF, Glendale Desert Dogs
2014 -- Greg Bird (Yankees), 1B, Scottsdale Scorpions
2013 -- Kris Bryant (Cubs), 3B, Mesa Solar Sox
2012 -- Chris McGuiness (Rangers), 1B, Surprise Solar Sox
2011 -- Nolan Arenado (Rockies), 3B, Salt River Rafters
2010 – Dustin Ackley (Mariners), 2B, Peoria Javelinas
2009 -- Grant Desme (A's), OF, Phoenix Desert Dogs
2008 -- Tommy Hanson (Braves), RHP, Mesa Solar Sox
2007 -- Sam Fuld (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
2006 -- Chip Cannon (Blue Jays), 1B, Phoenix Desert Dogs
2005 -- Eric Duncan (Yankees), 3B, Grand Canyon Rafters
2004 -- Chris Shelton (Tigers), DH, Grand Canyong Rafters
2003 -- Jason Dubois (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
2002 -- Ken Harvey (Royals), 1B, Scottsdale Scorpions