Shortstop Prospect Spotlight: Royce Lewis
Welcome to a continuation of our new Prospect Spotlight series, where we pair our prospect rankings with a deep dive on one of the players in that ranking. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the prospect’s fantasy profile, highlighting their background, skill set, and what we see for them coming down the pipeline. Prospects are the lifeblood of any dynasty league and we hope to bring you more great info on these rising stars in 2021 than ever before.
There are so many incredible talents at the top of the shortstop class in 2021 — every year, really — that I had a tough time deciding who I wanted to shine the spotlight on this time around. There are some potential superstars in the top half of the list, but Royce Lewis stands out because his shine is beginning to wear off for some. I’m here to tell you to put that shine… back on? You know what I mean.
Beyond the Surface
I can understand why some have become slightly disenchanted with Royce after a less-than-appetizing 2019 stat line on the surface. People see the .231 average in Double-A and the .238 average in High-A and the sub-.400 slugging numbers and run for the hills. Others hear that his mechanics are a bit funky and are turned off. This is where scouting the stat line can get you in trouble. In minor league baseball, context is king and basic baseball stat lines lack context in a major way. For instance, did you know that the Florida State League is notoriously tough on hitters? And did you know that Royce was younger than his competition at both High-A and Double-A? And do you think the Twins would have promoted him so aggressively if they felt he was overmatched? Now, that doesn’t mean we can dismiss poor production entirely, but when you start asking questions like those above, it helps you paint a more accurate picture.
Why the Hype?
Now that we’ve covered why people are concerned, let’s talk about what Royce does well. First and foremost, he’s a terrific athlete. He has a tantalizing blend of plus power and speed at present and may grow into even more power if he adds enough muscle to his frame (keep in mind that would sap the speed). He’s a decent defender who should stick at short if the Twins want him to, but also has the ability to play MLB-level defense at other up the middle spots. The hit tool is an enigma because it was once billed as his headlining tool and now very much is not so. Much has been made of his “noisy” mechanics (read: lots of moving parts) and rightfully so, but it’s not as if he’s lost the ability to hit. He’s an elite athlete who’s shown feel to hit in the past and has shown that he’s open to making adjustments in pro ball. I’m confident that he’s going to find an iteration that allows him to succeed.
The Total Package
Ultimately, Royce Lewis is a high-variance player, but one who I think can find the upper half of his range of outcomes due to his terrific talent and makeup. It feels like you can’t read a scouting report on Lewis that doesn’t mention his leadership qualities and work ethic. While that may not sound like useful information for fantasy, I can assure you it is — these are types of qualities that allow players to find ways to succeed and find their way onto the field. I know that 2019’s surface stats were a little unnerving and we didn’t get to see him in 2020, but I’m saying it’s too early to lose faith in Royce Lewis. He may not be the batting average stalwart he was billed as on draft day, but he still projects to be an exciting, impact hitter at the major league level.