Royce Lewis named Fall Stars Game MVP

October 13th, 2019

PHOENIX -- Royce Lewis’ 2019 season didn’t go as well as he’d hoped, but the Twins’ No. 1 prospect has emphatically put those struggles behind him in the Arizona Fall League.

Lewis has been raking since he arrived in Arizona and continued the trend Saturday night as he won the Fall Stars Game Most Valuable Player Award.

“It feels great,” Lewis said after the East’s 4-2 win over the West. “Whenever you can play well it always feels great. For me, at the end of the day, just having my family and friends here and being able to spend time with some family closer to home and being in this great environment, this weather, it’s a little different than the Florida State League, but like I said it’s just having fun again.”

As a reward for his efforts, Lewis’ teammates doused him with ice water and he was presented with an MVP belt.

“I feel like I play for the UFC or something,” the No. 9 overall prospect said. “It’s pretty cool, maybe Conor McGregor-like, but I don’t know if I’m going to walk around like him.”

Lewis, who finished the game 1-for-3, wasted no time putting in his bid for MVP as he went deep on the first pitch he saw.

The 20-year-old turned around a 94.6 mph fastball from Victor Castaneda (Brewers) and deposited it onto the lawn beyond the left-center field wall. The homer, a two-run blast that opened the scoring, had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph.

“He threw four straight balls to the previous batter -- Alec Bohm (Phillies) -- and I just went up there with the mindset that he’s going to throw a strike at some point and I’ve got to be ready for it.”

That approach is something Lewis has been working on throughout the AFL season and it’s paid off immensely over the past four weeks, including on Saturday night.

“'I just want to hit this ball hard,’ that’s all I was thinking,” Lewis said. “And I got a pitch I was able to drive.”

After hitting .236 over 110 games with Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola during the regular season, Lewis came to the AFL trying to work on his plate discipline. Lewis struck out in 21.7 percent of his at-bats last season, an increase from 15.7 percent in 2018, but has had better discipline in Arizona.

The 2017 No. 1 overall pick has looked the part and is among the league leaders in several categories. Lewis leads the league with a .407 batting average and is tied for the league lead with 22 hits (Jared Oliva, Pirates) and is tied for third with 22 RBIs. What’s more, Lewis is currently on an 11-game hitting streak and has also shown impressive defensive versatility -- spending time at third base, second base and center field, where he had spent just a combined 17 career innings prior to the Fall League.

Past Fall Stars Game MVP Award winners:

2018: Buddy Reed, SD

2017: Victor Robles, WSH

2016: Willie Calhoun, LAD

2015: Gary Sanchez, NYY

2014: Greg Bird, NYY

2013: Brett Nicholas, TEX

2012: Brian Goodwin, WSH

2011: Nick Franklin, SEA

2010: Leslie Anderson, TB