The Twins have taken high school infielder Royce Lewis with the first overall pick of the 2017 amateur draft, as Keith Law of ESPN.com suggested on Twitter and John Manuel of Baseball America tweeted would occur. The selection is the first for the organization’s newly installed front office, led by chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine.
With the draft clock ticking down, reports suggested that Minnesota had whittled it down to two possibilities: Louisville two-way star Brendan McKay and Lewis. But McKay’s camp declined to take the bonus that Minnesota was offering him, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter), leaving the team to move on.
The 18-year-old Lewis is seen as a highly projectable talent who may thrive in center field even if he can’t stick at short. He hails from California’s JSerra Catholic High School. MLB.com’s team of Callis and Jonathan Mayo joined Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs in ranking Lewis as the fifth overall prospect on the board. Baseball America had him at seventh.
High-school righty Hunter Greene and Vanderbilt starter Kyle Wright have drawn the most votes as the top overall player available. But every team’s assessments are different. And maximizing an overall draft requires bonus pool management. The first overall slot came with over $7.7MM in total spending capacity, some of which will likely be allocated to other selections.