Monday, June 26, 2017

Royce Lewis Ready For Life As A Pro

When the Major League Baseball draft commenced in early June, the only certainty was that the Minnesota Twins would make the first selection. There were a handful of names being thrown around as possibilities for the first overall pick, but only those inside the Twins war room knew for certainty whose name would be called. As the dust settled and prep phenom Royce Lewis was the pick, Minnesota immediately had a new name atop their prospect rankings.

Lewis, a star shortstop and outfielder, is regarded as being the most polished high school position prospect in the draft. Noted equally for his maturity as his athleticism, he should immediately step into the Twins system and find success. I had the privilege of catching up with him following the draft, and touched on a few different subjects to get to know him a bit better.

Here's what he had to say:

Off The Baggy: What was your draft day experience like? 

Royce Lewis: I was in Studio City, CA at my grandparents house with my family. We went into the day without expectations, just excited about the potential opportunity.

OTB: Did you have an inclination early in the day the Twins might be looking to take you at 1/1? 

RL: I absolutely did not have any idea that the Twins would select me. I had many conversations with them, however I had conversations with all of the teams. I never doubted my abilities and what I could bring to an organization, but you just never know what will happen, what a team is looking for, or what their needs are.

OTB: Playing both shortstop and the outfield, your athleticism shines on the diamond. What do you feel your strengths are at both positions? Do you prefer one?

RL: I am very athletic with great speed and reactions. Having baseball instincts and the ability to read the ball off the bat well, I have an edge to make plays that others may not at both positions. I have never had much formal training at either position, basically I have relied on my athleticism to do things take over, so with daily training at either or both I am excited to see where it takes me. I love being up the middle because I feel I can help the team at both, however I prefer shortstop because I feel that I am a natural leader and at shortstop I am able to be involved more in the game. The position is naturally a position which is a leader on the field, so I would be able to help the team to get wins and championships.

OTB: Tell us about your hitting approach? Are you a gap power guy, or is speed on the basepaths your thing?

RL: My approach to hitting is that I look for a pitch to drive. I believe I can offer all 3: power, gap to gap, and speed. I just turned 18 on June 5th and have not reached my full potential or growth. Again I look forward to the daily training and facing the best pitching teams have to offer. I feel I am at my best when being challenged. One of my strengths as a hitter is that I am very good with 2 strikes. 

OTB: Making the jump from high school to the professional ranks, what do you see being your biggest challenge? What will help to set you apart?

RL: My biggest challenge will be playing with the best of the best everyday, but this is my dream and I look forward to working hard to challenge myself to always try to be better than the day before. Everything only happens with determination and hard work and I am determined and will work hard everyday, this is what will set me apart. The fact that I am always a student of the game, whether I am in the game or watching others play, there is always an opportunity to learn something which will help better my game.

OTB: Being from California, what is your knowledge of Minnesota and the Twins organization? Have you been to Target Field previously?

RL: I had never been to Minnesota before the Twins organization flew my family and I out for the weekend. It is such a beautiful and clean city. I love that the fan base is so big with Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding areas. It is great that the Twin Cities have 6 professional teams in one area (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, and Women's Basketball), so many cool things to be apart of and support. My family and I love the state motto "Minnesota Nice." I feel that I will fit in perfect with that as I am a nice guy who will give everything I have to be successful in all that I do while helping others along the way. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization. Target Field was incredible, it is one of the best stadiums I have been in and I love that you can maneuver through the downtown area in the skyways without going outside. That is really cool, we do NOT have stuff like that in California!

OTB: Who's a pro player, past or present, that you may have modeled your game after or look up to?

RL: I have always looked up to Derek Jeter because he played the game the right way both on and off the field. I also look to Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor because they are really really good and always seem to be enjoying the game and making it fun! When you love what you do, you will be more successful at what you are doing no matter what it is and for me it is the game of baseball. However, I really hope to just be me, to be "Royce Lewis" and hopefully one day people will look to be like me because I am a great person and player who makes the game fun in all the right ways. It is good to look to others for advice and tips to better yourself but in the end you have to be you and make you.... "the best you can be"!!!

With a long journey ahead, Royce appears to have a great head on his shoulders, and be well positioned to climb through the organization. As the GCL season gets underway, Twins fans will have a chance to see it begin to come together.