The 2018 Chattanooga Lookouts will practice for the first time this afternoon at AT&T Field before hosting Chattanooga State in an exhibition game this evening.
This time next year, Royce Lewis could be among the Lookouts participating.
Lewis is an 18-year-old shortstop out of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., whom the Minnesota Twins selected with the top overall pick in last June's big-league draft. He signed for $6.725 million, which is a record amount for a high school player under the signing system that began five years ago.
"Royce is a special talent, and it's great to have him in our system," Twins player development director Jeremy Zoll said. "His makeup almost seems to good to be true, but it actually is, which speaks to our scouting department and for everyone who helped nail that down."facebook
Lewis is the third No. 1 overall pick in Twins history, joining pitcher Tim Belcher in 1983 and catcher/first baseman Jake Mauer in 2001. Belcher never played in the organization, while Mauer still plays for Minnesota, having been a six-time All-Star and the 2009 American League MVP.
A 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, Lewis was drafted out of JSerra Catholic High, where he played third base until moving to shortstop his senior season. He finished last year playing 18 games with Cedar Rapids (Iowa) of the Single-A Midwest League.
In those 18 games, Lewis hit .296 with 10 RBIs against opposition averaging 21 years in age.
"We were fortunate to get Royce to Cedar Rapids briefly at the end of last year," Zoll said, "and I think that was an effort to give him a taste of that level before having him start there this year. We'll see how that goes, and if things go as we hope, we're hoping to get him along on a good, quick track there."
Lewis certainly is expected to remain with Cedar Rapids through April 20, because the team is recognizing him with a bobblehead night. A promotion to the Fort Myers Miracle of the high Single-A Florida State League is likely at some point, but Zoll is tapping the brakes on the possibility of Lewis reaching Chattanooga this season.
"We're sensitive to not setting limits on anything," Zoll said. "Obviously, a million different things could happen, but, realistically, I would be surprised if that outcome came about. He's got a really good head on his shoulders, and he's really taking the long view of this."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.