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.
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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