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Lewis, Kirilloff get NRIs to Twins Spring Training

Top prospects will get chance to impress with the Major League squad in Fort Myers
January 25, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Royce Lewis got the call that he was being invited to Major League Spring Training in 2019, he had to mute the phone."I just go, 'Whaaaaaat?' And then I'm just back to normal," the highly touted shortstop said. "'Thank you, I really appreciate the offer. Of course,

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Royce Lewis got the call that he was being invited to Major League Spring Training in 2019, he had to mute the phone.
"I just go, 'Whaaaaaat?' And then I'm just back to normal," the highly touted shortstop said. "'Thank you, I really appreciate the offer. Of course, I'm going to accept, and I'll be there as soon as possible.'"
Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, the top two prospects in the Twins' organization, will headline Minnesota's non-roster invitees to Major League Spring Training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., chief baseball officer Derek Falvey announced Friday.
"Those guys both put in a ton of effort," Falvey said. "They certainly had successful seasons, but it's not a question of whether or not they performed. It's more just the next step in the path. I've seen with so many young players we have in the big leagues now, getting their eyes open a little bit at a big league camp.

"Getting to see Nelson Cruz doing some work and what that looks like, that's a benefit to those guys."
The Twins have not finalized their full list of non-roster invitees, but other prospects within the organization expected to attend big league camp include outfielder Luke Raley, first baseman/outfielder Brent Rooker, catchers Ben Rortvedt and Brian Navarreto, and pitchers Ryan Eades and Jake Reed.
Raley (No. 19), Rooker (No. 7) and Rortvedt (No. 24) are also among Minnesota's top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
"Hopefully, it's going to be an eye-opening experience, being able to play against guys at that level, and ... that's the end goal, being able to kind of stack yourself up against some of those [Major League] guys in Spring Training," Kirilloff said.
Lewis, 19, was selected with the first overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft and is the No. 7 overall prospect in baseball. He split the 2018 season between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers, hitting .292/.352/.451 with 14 homers, 29 doubles and 28 steals across the two levels.

Lewis slumped a bit to end the Minor League season, but emerged from his second professional season having grown mentally as he worked through the struggles. He started his offseason workouts two weeks earlier than last year, and he has been focusing on improving his strength. He has attended two of the Twins' new offseason mini-camps.
"Royce is somebody who has come a long way," Falvey said. "I remember in the amateur Draft, that was some of the conversation about shortstop, whether or not he'd move off the position. We said at the time and maintain that he's committed to it. That's the first step. He's got athleticism, he's gotten better."
After missing all of 2017 to recover from Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff's only goal entering last season was to play a full season of healthy baseball. He did that and more, hitting 20 homers and 44 doubles, driving in 101 runs and hitting .348/.392/.578 in Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers to be named Twins Minor League Player of the Year.
The 21-year-old Kirilloff was the Twins' first-round selection in the 2016 Draft, No. 15 overall, and has shown an impressive ability to hit for both average and power to all fields.

"Joe [Mauer] has as sweet of a swing as you're going to find," Falvey said. "Alex may have the equivalent to that in the Minor Leagues right now. The things that really stood out late in the year were his ability to adjust pitch-to-pitch and the ability to see what a guy was doing to him and attack again. That's unique for a hitter his age."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.