With the No. 1 pick in the 2017 MLB draft, the Minnesota Twins passed over Keith Law’s top prospect on his big board, Hunter Greene, and two-way college player Brendan McKay in favor of JSerra High School shortstop Royce Lewis. The 6-foot right-hander became the first high school shortstop to go No. 1 since Carlos Correa was picked there by the Houston Astros in 2012.
Here’s some more info about the top choice of 2017.
A baller from birth
William Lewis, Royce’s father, told the Orange County Register that his son’s first word was ‘ball.’ Perhaps that was a sign of what was to come. Lewis hit .388 in 2017 for JSerra and was a member of Team USA this past summer. Sounds about right for a kid who was into the game from birth.
“I’d take him to a game when he was 2, and he’d sit in my lap and watch everything,” William said. “Wouldn’t cry, wouldn’t want to go home. He was picking up what the players were doing.”
Inside the trophy case
Lewis racked up a slew of awards during his high school career, including California’s Gatorade player of the year in baseball, a National High School Coaches Association high school baseball player of the year honor and three Trinity League player of the year nods.
Waiting his turn
Despite his talent, Lewis didn’t get to play shortstop until this season. Lewis was behind Chase Strumpf, now playing short at UCLA, early on at JSerra and had to play third base instead of his preferred position.
ESPN insider Keith Law said he expects Lewis will likely transition to center field because of his plus speed and range.
High school shortstops taken No. 1 overall are a mixed bag historically. Correa, Alex Rodriguez, Justin Upton (moved off short early in his career) and Chipper Jones (also slid out of the shortstop spot) are part of the group; so are Tim Beckham (2.8 WAR in 212 major league games so far), Matt Bush (now a pitcher) and Tim Foli (5.5 WAR in 16 seasons, though he hit won a ring with the Pirates in 1979 while hitting .333 in the postseason).
The jury is still out on the most recent No. 1 shortstop, Dansby Swanson, who was picked in 2015 and is still trying to make his mark for the Atlanta Braves.
A premier program
Lewis is the sixth player picked out of JSerra since 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Only one of those players, Austin Hedges, has made the majors thus far.