Saints Moving Royce Lewis Around on Defense
Royce Lewis was sent back down to (AAA) St. Paul late last week, to widespread disappointment. In the end, his .308 BA, 162 OPS+ or 2 HR in 11 games with the Minnesota Twins weren’t enough to save him from demotion, when Carlos Correa was activated off of the injury list.
The problem? Royce Lewis is a shortstop, who has played over 2,500 innings of professional baseball at that position, while totaling less than 20 innings everywhere else combined. Losing his bat in the big league lineup was obviously going to hurt the Twins.
But Rocco Baldelli and the front office were worried about stunting Lewis’ development if they messed with his defensive position while he was in the MLB. If he had to learn a new position, he was better off figuring it out in the minors.
Finding a New Position for Royce
But where would Royce Lewis play defensively when written into the Saints lineup? Would the Twins move him around the diamond in St. Paul, hoping to find a new, possibly temporary, position? It appears so. In the three games Royce has played since being sent down, he’s been written in once as SS, once as 3B and once as LF.
#MNTwins said the plan for Royce Lewis' return to Triple-A would involve playing shortstop, plus other positions.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) May 21, 2022
Sure enough …
Game 1: Shortstop
ame 2: Third base
Game 3: Left field
Goal is to prepare Lewis to possibly play alongside Carlos Correa, not just fill in for him.
Now, will the Saints continue moving Lewis around or will they find a position, other than SS, and look to build his comfortability there? Up with the big club, the most available everyday position is 1st base. Will the Saints try Lewis at 1B or will they keep him at 3B, when playing an infield position other than SS? That would mean a lot of Urshela or Arraez at 1B.
Royce Lewis would reach max-value with the Twins if he’s able to play all over the infield and outfield. Trevor Larnach is set to return so the Twins’ outfield is looking more and more full. But with that said, Byron Buxton will need his days off, too. Could Royce see innings in CF with the Saints? It would make sense.
What about his bat?
As mentioned, Royce Lewis has played three games with St. Paul, since his demotion. His first night back, Royce played shortstop and went 3-for-3 with a HR and 2B. But in the two games he’s played in alien positions (3B, LF), he’s 0-for-8. On the bright side, he didn’t record an error at either position.
Such a small sample size doesn’t tell us anything, in reality. But anecdotally, his two-game slump is exactly why the Twins didn’t want to move him around the field, defensively, while simultaneously asking him to hit major league pitching at a high level.
We’ll see where Royce Lewis plays today, and going forward. Hopefully, he finds his comfortability outside of shortstop and we see him in a Minnesota Twins uniform again sooner, rather than later.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan