Dynasty Divorces is a brand new series! Every year, fantasy baseball websites release their Top 100 lists. In this series, Brett Cook (@beautyofgrace32) and Paul Anderson (@PWAnderson07) will both highlight one player who they see dropping on Top 100 lists. Keeping a highly coveted prospect too long could lead to you feeling regret for not ending things sooner. With each highlighted player, we will advise on what to do with that prospect. Follow us on Twitter and send us a response if you want to further discuss these guys!
Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins
Analysis by: Brett Cook
We are starting things off with a bang in this debut of Dynasty Divorces as we discuss Royce Lewis. Royce was drafted 1st overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. The Twins ownership believed that they struck gold in a five-tool player and scouts also believed that his hit tool would carry him through the majors. Early on, the expectation with Royce was that he would develop power as he got older and that his ability to hit line drives would create more extra-base hit opportunities.
Immediately after being drafted, Lewis started in the Gulf Coast League where he hit .271/.390/.414. After 36 games, Lewis was promoted to Single-A where he hit .296/.363/.394. The next season, Royce figured things out in Single-A with a stat line of .315/.368/.485 and was eventually promoted to High-A where he hit .255/.327/.399, which is a significant drop. Looking at Top 100 lists in 2018 and 2019, most had Royce in their Top 10. In 2020 some lists still had Royce in the 10-15 range but one website dropped him to 29. Why did some websites drop Royce Lewis on their list?
With better competition, it is expected to have your stat line drop as you figure out how to hit in the higher levels. The problem with Royce is that he never dominated in High-A in 2018 and then followed up the 2019 season with worst play in High-A, hitting a paltry .238/.289/.376. He was then promoted to Double-A where his struggles only grew worse. When your OPS drops over two-hundred points from Single-A to Double-A, you can call Houston, because there is a problem. This is the case for Royce as his OPS dropped from .853 to .649.
As you dig deeper into Lewis’s decline over the last two years, it goes beyond his stat line and bleeds into sabermetrics. With every promotion from High-A to Double-A, Lewis’s strikeout rate increased. His strikeout-rate started at 17% in Single-A and increased to 22% in Double-A. His walk to strikeout ratio (BB/K) has dropped in each promotion which means he isn’t walking as much. In this same time frame, Lewis’s ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB/FB) also dropped from 1.93 to 1.04. This wouldn’t be a problem if you are getting ground ball hits with a high average, but Lewis isn’t, so this shows that his ground balls are being hit weaker. Even further, Lewis’s home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB) has also dropped with each promotion from High-A to Double-A, which indicates that the fly balls that Lewis makes contact with are going over the fence with less frequency, and, given his dropping batting average, you also realize that those fly balls are not liners into the gaps.
Verdict – That’s a Deal-breaker, Ladies.
There is no one size fits all for trade advice because every league is different. If you are going all-in for a championship this year and you have Royce, then trade him high. I am not saying that Royce is bad, but I also don’t see indications of him being a star in the major leagues. Pennants fly forever so move him in a trade if you believe it helps you win it all. For those not competing for a championship, get creative in how you assess this information. Your fellow competition may not know all that you know.
Alex Kiriloff, OF Minnesota Twins
Analysis by: Paul Anderson
Kiriloff was drafted 15th overall by the Twins in 2016. Taken out of high school at 6’2 and 195 pounds, scouts saw a projectable frame. They loved the bat, saying of him “As a hitter, Kirilloff can really do it all: big raw power, plus bat speed, a mature approach, and a hit tool so promising that almost every scout has agreed that he’s an advanced hitter who happens to hit for power rather than the other way around.”
A good showing in 232 plate appearances to start his minor league career was abruptly ended by Tommy John surgery. A return in 2018 saw him slash .348/.392/.578 with 20 home runs in only 130 games. A 15% strikeout rate showed Kiriloff was the advanced hitter scouts expected. He lept all the way to MLB.com’s No. 9 prospect entering 2019.
He played his age 21 season last year at Double-A. After opening the year on the IL with a wrist injury, his season never got off the ground. A pedestrian .283/.343/.413 line has led him to drop in prospect lists. He’s slid to No. 34 for MLB.com and down to No. 86, according to Baseball Prospectus. So what should we make of this slide? With every falling prospect we own, there are two paths. Trade them now before their production plummets further or hold.
2019 feels like so long ago. Doing some news article digging helped give the wrist injury perspective. Kiriloff missed the first month of the season, and after returning to play 29 games, he went back on the IL with the same injury. He told reporters at the time, “I’ve just got to strengthen it daily, really. I’ve just got to be able to trust it again on tough pitches… being able to mentally tell yourself and your body that your wrist is completely fine again is another step to take as well.” To me, it sounds like he never got to 100% after the injury. We’ve seen wrist surgeries zap a player’s power for a full year after. While the surgery wasn’t required, the wrist seems like the most logical explanation for his poor season.
After injuries have limited him in multiple seasons, some will wonder if he’s injury-prone. It’s essential to evaluate these types of injuries. The majority of pitchers recover completely from Tommy John’s surgery. A position player three years removed shouldn’t be a concern at all. Wrist issues, given time to heal, don’t usually become a recurring issue.
Verdict- Stand by your man.
If you’ve got Kiriloff, don’t divorce him just yet. He was willing to fight through his wrist injury last year, you need to fight for him now! I don’t foresee him making his MLB debut this season. Along with no news coming out of the minors, it may be tempting to be down on him. Don’t be! When healthy, he’s shown to be the same hitter scouts raved over when drafted. Keep him around. You won’t regret it.