The Twins’ Royce Lewis and the Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr. are among the jewels of their respective clubs’ farm systems, and if we’re to believe prospect gurus, there isn’t much separation between the two. Both players are regarded as top 30 prospects, MLB.com ranking Lewis ninth, FanGraphs placing him 13th and Baseball America putting him in the No. 26 spot. Witt checks in at Nos. 10, 23 and 24 on those lists.
Lewis, now 20 years old, entered the professional ranks as the No. 1 overall pick in 2017. At $6.725MM, Lewis received what was then the largest bonus ever given to a player drafted out of high school. Lewis came roaring out of the gates at the lower levels that year and the next season, though his production has dropped of late. He made his debut in Double-A ball last season and batted .231/.291/.358 (88 wRC+) with just two home runs in 148 plate appearances, though it’s worth noting that he was much younger than the typical player at that level. And Lewis, to his credit, did absolutely thrive dominate during the autumn in the Arizona Fall League, where he earned Most Valuable Player honors. There are some concerns about his “cacophonous” swing, as FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen explained in February, but he added that “the star-level talent will eventually shine through.”
Just where Lewis will line up in the majors remains to be seen. He’s versatile enough to play multiple positions (including center field), and the Twins seem to have found a long-term answer at short in Jorge Polanco. Likewise, the Royals are in nice shape at short with Adalberto Mondesi, so it’s up in the air where Witt will fit if he does arrive in Kansas City someday. They and the Twins can worry about how best to align their defenses at a later date, though.
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Witt, the son of former MLB hurler Bobby Witt, joined the Royals as the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft. He, like Lewis, got to the majors after a tremendous performance as a high school shortstop, and wound up signing for an almost $7.8MM bonus. But Witt endured his struggles during his initial taste of pro ball last summer, hitting .262/.317/.354 (85 wRC+) with only one homer in 180 PA in rookie ball. Nevertheless, Longenhagen compared Witt to Rockies star Trevor Story just a couple weeks ago, writing, “There are going to be some strikeouts but Witt is a big, athletic specimen who is very likely to not only stay at shortstop but be quite good there.”
Whichever positions these two play, we’ll be looking at a couple AL Central standouts if they develop according to plan in the coming years. Which prospect would you choose?
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Witt is overrated. rabked way to high for someone with so little experience above high school
Witt is a sure thing to stick at short. Lewis may not. Even if Witt never fixes his swing-and-miss game. He is still going to be at minimum a plus defender at a premium position with 20hr power. Very few guys out of high school can say that. He also has a much higher ceiling offensively given the raw power he hasn’t even grown into. The Story comp is about as easy a comp a scout could make.
I disagree on Witt having a much higher offensive ceiling on the basis of power. If you said contact then yeah, Lewis has struggled the last year and a half other than the Arizona Fall League. But Lewis has great grades power wise. Including baseball America says he is the best power bat in the system. A system that has Brent Rooker who has been given 65-70 power on multiple websites.
Having watched both Witt and Lewis in game and their BPs. I think they both have good power. But given Lewis’s swing, and approach, I just don’t see him ever tapping into all of it. I’d give him 60 grade raw power, but a future 50 game power. Witt has a body much more primed to put on mass, and has a swing that will tap into much easier. I’d give him a 65 raw pop and a future 60-65 game pop. I think both will be plenty capable of hitting 20 hrs, but I think Witt has a chance to be a 30-35 hr guy.
At that age? He is not a sure thing to stick at short.
You are right. He could get one of his legs cut off.
I like Witt if anything just because of having the bloodlines X-factor
When was the last time a Twins prospect hit his ceiling? Gotta go with a slightly more proven dev system.
They have one of the best lineups in baseball. Have Rosario, Kepler, Polanco, Arraez, Garver or even Sano not hit their ceilings?
i dont think Kepler and Sano are living up tbh, but you can also argue Arraez, Garver and Polanco have exceeded theirs, so point stands.
Well this take is wrong.
Sano perhaps isn’t living up but look what Kepler did last season
Kepler was a 4 and a half war player last year, is the best defensive right fielder not name Mookie Betts, and seems to have made a swing change last year to finally hit for power. He was never expected to be a .300 hitter. He was always considered more of a Matt Carpenter-esque player offensively and it looks like that is exactly who he is.
I guess it depends on how one defines “hit” his ceiling. In my opinion, that means there is no more room for growth and he was as good as most predictions pegged him to be. Gibson got that eventually with the Twins. So did Perkins.
Berrios, Polanco, Kepler and Rosario are good players but haven’t hit their ceiling yet and with most of them it’s too early to say that they won’t. Might be too late for Rosario. He needs better discipline.
Mauer didn’t hit his ceiling in my opinion. He was a stud, but that concussion took away many good years from him. I have no doubt he’d still be playing if not for it.
Gibson most certainly did not hit his ceiling. he’s a 4 at best and was much better regarded as a prospect.
“While considered one of the draft’s elite pitchers Gibson doesn’t project as an ace, but everyone from Baseball America and MLB.com to ESPN and Baseball Prospectus seems to agree that he’s capable of becoming a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter” found googling.
Gibson was a three in probably three to four years with the Twins he hit his ceiling based on that. I remember they thought he may be a 2 in the beginning but that was very few and it went away quickly.
He also would’ve never been moved to fist base.
How can someone’s ceiling be higher than MVP?
Mmmm, that’s some good hyperbole.
Witt, but just barely.
Royce Lewis by A LOT!