John Sickels and SB Nation's site Minor League Ball hosted their annual Mock Draft on Saturday, June 3rd. Guessatomo, Orodawg, and I represented the Oakland A’s, and we attempted to select a group of players that would be realistic targets for the A’s without doing anything stupid like taking Pavin Smith 6th overall. The surprise selection of OF Austin Beck #4 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays led Orodawg to redistribute the chairs in his domicile and presented us the opportunity to select SS/OF Royce Lewis with the 6th pick in the draft.
Royce Lewis, SS/OF
JSerra Catholic High School, San Juan Capistrano, CA
DOB: 6/5/1999 / Height: 6’1" / Weight: 185
Bats: R Throws: R
MLB Scouting Grades:
Hit = 55 / Power = 45 / Run = 70 / Arm = 50 / Fielding = 50 / Overall = 55
Royce Lewis is ranked the 3rd-best amateur prospect by Perfect Game. FanGraphs rates him 4th overall, while MLB.com, Baseball America, and Herosports have him ranked #5. By all accounts drafting Lewis at #6 is good value and slightly fortuitous.
- Guessatomo at Minor League Ball (6/3)
Lewis is arguably the best position prospect in the draft class. Scouts agree he can stay up the middle, with some thinking he can stay at SS and others projecting him to end up a plus CF. He was a SS for his high school team and a CF when playing on the summer circuit last year, so he has experience at both positions. Baseball America gives him higher scouting grades than the ones listed above -- according to them, he shows plus-plus bat speed (70 Grade) while flashing plus raw power (60 Grade) and 80 Grade speed. BA also considers him to have the best strike zone judgement among the prep bats and to be one of the best athletes as well. He hit .388/.569/.662 with 4 HR, 24 BB, 7 Ks in 30 games played this year. His make-up is described as off the charts.
Lewis’ background as a SS would (probably) compel the A’s to keep him in the infield through at least his first full season in the minor leagues. The power is below-average for now and might not project as more than average at maturity. The swing might need to be cleaned up as he advances up the minor leagues. Drafting prep talent typically means longer development time and more patience on the part of a Front Office.
The Athletics aren’t very athletic and they don’t have a viable, long-term answer in CF. I believe Lewis would change that. His high-ceiling potential could add an All-Star level talent with plus defense at a crucial, up-the-middle position. The odds are low that he’s actually available when the A’s get to select but if he’s there he’d almost certainly be the best talent on the board.