Though shortstops with big bats have become more common in Major League Baseball in recent years, they’re still the unicorn of the infield. When a prospect that fits that mold comes along, they’re almost impossible to pass up. One lucky team will land one early in the first round of the 2017 draft.
Royce Lewis 2017 MLB Draft Profile
The best offensive prospect in the draft might be a 6’2”, 188-pound high school senior from Aliso Viejo, California. Royce Lewis, the starting shortstop for JSerra High School,can do it all with the bat, and has defensive versatility to boot. He bats and throws right-handed, and can play short, second, third, and the outfield. He was named a 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game Preseason First-Team All-American, and played his way to California All-Region First-Team honors. Lewis is verbally committed to play college ball for UC Irvine, but will likely be a top-10 pick and should be signable if he is.
While his ability to play multiple positions will attract teams, Royce Lewis will earn his money as a pro with the lumber. Lewis has real power potential, and has room to add muscle onto his frame. His swing mechanics are well-developed; he makes good contact, has strong hand-eye coordination, and possesses excellent bat speed. If Lewis hits like many believe he will, he’ll be a power and OBP threat.
Lewis also projects as a threat on the basepaths. He has 60-grade or better speed, and strong instincts. He could become a regular 20/20 guy as a pro. His defense also plays as a strength. His range should allow him to stick at shortstop, but he could also play second or outfield. He has good arm strength, and his glove work has improved dramatically overall. Lewis is one of the more well-rounded prospects in this year’s draft.
If Royce Lewis has any true weakness, it’s positional uncertainty. Some believe his arm will play better at second, though there is reason to believe he’ll stick at short. In the outfield, he can certainly play center. His bat and legs will keep teams from worrying about his position too much, however.