A team that sits in first place in its division demoted its hottest hitter and one of its most exciting players Tuesday night after watching him smash a double and a home run and make another defensive highlight play at shortstop.
Hey, great start to your career, kid. Now pack your bags and catch a plane back to the minors. Go get 'em!
Royce Lewis started his big-league career on fire and very much looks like he belongs.
The Twins decided that he's better off in the minors right now.
What am I missing here?
Normally, teams send young players to the minors if they are struggling or appear over-matched at the plate or on the mound. The Twins demoted their top prospect who is doing everything right and kept Jose Miranda, who is batting .094 and looks overmatched in every sense.
Miranda will be headed to Class AAA St. Paul soon enough, as well, but the optics are terrible.
Derek Falvey's front office had a decision to make once Carlos Correa's injured finger healed and he was ready to return. Everyone should agree with the premise that Lewis needs to play every day, especially after missing the past two seasons because of COVID and injury. Playing every day at shortstop isn't an option with Correa in the lineup.
Fine. Have Lewis play first base. Or third base. Or left field. Have him serve as the designated hitter some days, or platoon in center field when Byron Buxton gets one of his frequent scheduled days off.
The team easily can find ways to have Lewis on the field every day.
The Twins counterargue that asking Lewis to play out of position at the major-league level would harm his development. Sorry, I just don't buy that theory.
Lewis is an exceptional athlete, the No. 1 overall draft pick for a reason. He is so naturally talented that he could excel — or at least be more than adequate — at most positions. Are we really to believe that playing left field or third base would overwhelm him or stunt his development?
That scenario might not produce favorable results for most prospects. Lewis isn't like most prospects.
This feels like a case of overreacting to a problem that might never exist. Why take his red-hot bat out of the lineup without giving him a shot to see if Plan B can work?
Lewis' home will always be at shortstop. If/when Correa opts out of his contract after this season, Lewis can slide right back into that position. He won't forget how to play shortstop.
The front office has had a tough week in public relations. It took a blast of criticism from fans and media after Buxton was not used as a pinch-hitter in extra innings Saturday to coax team officials into sharing publicly the organization's plan to give Buxton periodic rest days for his ailing knee with the hope of him reaching 100 games.
The Twins should have been transparent in disclosing that plan upfront instead of allowing Buxton's reputation to get whacked like a pinata every time he's not in the lineup and apparently not even available some days regardless of the game situation.
The Lewis demotion followed a few days later, which is more of an annoyance than anything. Sending him down to the minors isn't going to cause irreparable harm to his career. He will be just fine. It's the optics of it that causes frustration.
Lewis is a popular draw with fans. He's wonderfully talented, and his first taste of big-league ball started with a bang. In 11 games, he looked like one of the Twins' best players. Folks rightfully want to see more of him.
If Correa got hurt again, Lewis would be back immediately. Manager Rocco Baldelli said the plan is for Lewis to play multiple positions in St. Paul, not just shortstop, which presumably opens the door for his return as a utility player. He should be gaining that experience in the majors.
Lewis was thriving in his call-up audition. He deserved to stay.