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'Patient' Lewis wise beyond his years

Twins' top prospect slashed .279/.381/.407 in Minors as 18-year-old
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- As a general rule, the Twins haven't brought in Draft picks from the previous year to TwinsFest because it can be a lot for a young player to handle, but they didn't hesitate to invite last year's No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, to this weekend's annual event.

Lewis, the club's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, handles himself like a veteran and fit right in with his older teammates while embracing his opportunity to meet Twins fans at Target Field. But when asked at what level he'd like to open the season, he gave a reminder of just how young he still is.

MINNEAPOLIS -- As a general rule, the Twins haven't brought in Draft picks from the previous year to TwinsFest because it can be a lot for a young player to handle, but they didn't hesitate to invite last year's No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, to this weekend's annual event.

Lewis, the club's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, handles himself like a veteran and fit right in with his older teammates while embracing his opportunity to meet Twins fans at Target Field. But when asked at what level he'd like to open the season, he gave a reminder of just how young he still is.

"I'm patient," Lewis said with a smile. "I'm still only 18 and don't turn 19 until June."

Video: Royce Lewis reflects on first professional season

Lewis, though, impressively reached Class A Cedar Rapids in his first professional season and more than held his own. Lewis excelled in the Gulf Coast League, hitting .271/.390/.414 with 15 stolen bases in 36 games before a late promotion to Cedar Rapids, where he hit .296/.363/.394 in 18 games despite being three years younger than his average competition.

Lewis figures to open 2018 at Cedar Rapids but could find himself at Class A Advanced Fort Myers by the end of the season. His goal this offseason was to put on weight and he's done just that, adding 13 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame, as he now weighs 200 pounds and would like to get to 205.

Video: Top Prospects: Royce Lewis, SS, Twins

"I've been doing a lot of workouts and putting down any food I can, whether it's Chick-fil-A or a great homecooked meal by the family," Lewis said.

As for goals during the season, Lewis said he simply wants to get better at all facets of the game, but defense is one specific area where he'd like to improve. The Twins believe Lewis can stick at shortstop long term, but it's up to him to prove it, as it's still a new position for him because he was a third baseman until moving to shortstop as a senior in high school.

"They told me to play at short until I prove I can't," Lewis said. "I know I can always transition to center field and play at a high level."

Video: Royce Lewis' dad knew his son was big-league material

Center field remains the fallback option for Lewis, who has the elite speed to play the position. But it's clear he sees himself as a shortstop and models himself after a certain future Hall of Famer, both on and off the field.

"I'd love to be like Derek Jeter one day -- except I just want to be Royce Lewis," Lewis said. "I'm trying to change the game and set the standard someday."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins