Twins call top prospect Lewis: ‘Truly a blessing’

Commissioning was easy. The shot, well, it took four tries, but he succeeded in that too. No, the hardest part of Royce Lewis’ first night as a big leaguer was figuring out how to react to a standing ovation from 17,509 at Target Field.

“It made me nervous. I didn’t know if I should take my helmet off or not,” Lewis said of the eighth-inning appreciation of his first career hit, an opposite-field single. “I was honestly thinking, ‘Are they going to get stronger?’ And then I couldn’t hear [first-base coach] Skein [Conger], and I was trying to pick up signs. I was a little pissed off. I was really excited.”

It was a pretty exciting day for Lewis, 22, the Twins’ highest-rated prospect since fellow Draft No. 1 Joe Mauer. Despite his strong start for the St. Paul Saints, Lewis said he doesn’t expect to play at Target Field this summer, and certainly not a month into the season.

“I really thought it was going to take a few more years. To get the call and be so shocked and amazed is truly a blessing,” Lewis said shortly before his MLB debut. “I’m looking forward to showing off my skills and having fun and hopefully getting some wins for the team.”

He didn’t have to wait long – four pitches, to be exact. A’s first batter, Sheldon Neuse, slapped that pitch, an 0-2 slider, slowly to shortstop, and Lewis made a running pickup and pitch to first base, his first assist. as a Twin from Minnesota.

Lewis had plenty of witnesses to his debut in the crowd, at least 15, he said, after electrifying his family with a phone call to his parents’ home in Southern California. “I think mum was crying. Dad said he had to work tomorrow, so I said, ‘Maybe you should stop working one day, you own the restaurant,'” Lewis laughed. “I think that was the first time my baseball [career] took him out of work for years, so that was pretty cool.”

It could be just a temporary stay; the Twins decided to call up Lewis when they thought Carlos Correa would miss more than a month with a broken finger. But Correa’s finger isn’t broken and he’ll get his position back in a day or two. Still, Falvey said the rookie’s first month for St. Paul — averaging .310 and 15 extra hits in 24 games — gave them confidence he was ready for promotion, even if the waiving of the minor league in 2020 and a torn ligament in his right knee in 2021 cost him two full seasons of development.

“He’s always been an exceptional athlete. He can do things on the field that can open your eyes the same way that Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa can open your eyes,” said Derek Falvey, president of baseball operations. Twins. “Now he has to get up and go.”

Well, once he caught his breath. When Saints manager Toby Gardenhire called him Thursday night – “10.43pm,” Lewis said, a moment he will never forget – the player thought he was being assigned a community service appearance. “He said, ‘No, I have better news,'” Lewis said. When he heard it, “It was almost like I had run a marathon – I immediately gasped. Just in shock, in disbelief.”


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