To hear agent Scott Boras tell it, he was certain the Twins would draft Royce Lewis with the first pick in baseball’s amateur draft when he saw General Manager Thad Levine grow impressed by how the 18-year-old shortstop could … do absolutely nothing.
“I saw Royce take a 3-2 slider, a very difficult pitch for a high school player to take,” Boras recounted, but the JSerra Catholic High School star in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., checked his swing, accepted the walk, then stole second and third bases and scored on a pop-up to deep short. “I kind of knew from Thad’s gleam in his eye — he had seen everything that we had seen for years.”
That gleam grew into the decision to choose Lewis on Monday, and Saturday, it paid off with a contract worth $6.725 million, a source with knowledge of the contract confirmed. Lewis signed at a news conference between games of the Twins’ doubleheader, and he will soon report to the Twins’ Gulf Coast League rookie team in Fort Myers, Fla.
“I believed in my ability. I always knew I can reach the top, I never had any doubts,” Lewis said. “It’s been amazing, a child’s dream. I’m having such a great time. It’s so much fun. I just met [manager] Paul Molitor — whoa, over 3,000 hits, .306 career batting average. I’d like to do that someday.”
Boras, who has represented Alex Rodriguez, Bryce Harper and Greg Maddux, among many others, assured them Lewis has that sort of makeup.
“Many years ago, [Royce’s father William] Lewis came to me at a restaurant with another major league player and said: ‘You know, I think my son is pretty good. Do you know of anybody that can maybe evaluate him and have him play travel ball?’ ” Boras recounted. “I gave his name to a coach and Royce went and worked out. The coach called me and said: ‘This is the best youth player I’ve ever seen.’ So from that day forward, nothing surprised me about Royce and what his capacity is.”
By agreeing to accept $1 million less than the “slot” bonus assigned to the No. 1 pick, Lewis helps the Twins sign other players to above-slot amounts, which may convince some to forgo college and turn pro.
Pressly sent down
Since returning from Class AAA Rochester last week, Ryan Pressly had pitched twice, both times effectively. He struck out three with no walks in four innings, giving up one run and two hits. “We saw fairly good performances,” Molitor said. “Maybe more confidence, better mound presence. He threw it over.”
That’s why Molitor’s message for the reliever Saturday morning — pack your bags, you’re headed back to Rochester — must have come as a shock. But the Twins, furiously trying to staff their bullpen with enough arms, decided they had little choice. Pressly was demoted in order to make room for Game 1 starter Adam Wilk, who was in turn designated for assignment after taking the loss so the Twins could add another reliever, Alan Busenitz, for Game 2.
“I told him this morning, ‘These are tough ones, especially when a guy’s performing. But the need is there,’ ” Molitor said. “I’ve got two rookies pitching again today, and it’s unpredictable. We’re protecting ourselves.”
That Pressly had thrown 30 pitches Friday and wouldn’t be available for the doubleheader made the decision all the more necessary, he said.
But that didn’t mean he had to like it. “How would you take the news after you pitched a couple of good games?” Molitor said. “We’ll follow up with him in a couple of days.”
Busenitz, who pitched two innings in Game 2 and gave up a home run to Francisco Lindor, gets his big-league chance after five years in the minors. Acquired from the Angels in August, the 26-year-old had a 2.15 ERA in 19 games at Rochester, with 32 strikeouts in 29⅓ innings.