4:34pm: The Twins have agreed to a deal with first overall draft pick Royce Lewis, Fan Rag’s Jon Heyman tweets. Lewis will receive a bonus of a bit over $6.7MM. Lewis, a high school shortstop from California, will forgo his commitment to UC-Irvine, as expected.
It was reported late last week that Lewis would soon take a physical with the Twins and that he was expected to receive a bonus slightly higher than the $6.5MM 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson got from the Diamondbacks, so today’s news does not come as a major surprise. It appears Lewis’ bonus will not be the biggest overall in this year’s draft, however — that honor could go to Braves No. 5 overall pick Kyle Wright, who received $7MM, or Rays No. 4 overall selection Brendan McKay, who could receive slightly more.
The first overall pick had a pool value of $7,770,700 this year, so it appears that when Lewis’ signing is complete, the Twins will save around $1M against their total draft pool of $14,156,800. Notably, they’ve already struck a deal with third-rounder Blayne Enlow for $2MM, a little over $1.2MM more than the value of the No. 76 pick. The Lewis and Enlow deals, then, will essentially balance one another out.
The Twins were reportedly interested in both Lewis and McKay with the first overall pick, and Lewis’ willingness to accept the Twins’ bonus offer was reportedly a key factor in their decision to select him. Lewis, though, did rate as one of the premium talents in this year’s draft. MLB.com rated him the No. 5 prospect available, noting that he has excellent athleticism and good range either in the infield or center field. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen rated Lewis similarly, noting his feel for hitting, projectable body and the likelihood he could become a plus center field if he’s eventually moved off shortstop. Baseball America (subscription required) noted Lewis’ plus makeup, speed and raw power.
Lewis will join a collection of young Twins talent that includes big-leaguers Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios, along with prospects Nick Gordon, Stephen Gonsalves and Enlow. Lewis only turned 18 the week before the draft and could require ample time to develop, but he’ll immediately become one of the crown jewels of the Twins’ system.