It’s amazing what staying healthy can do. Lewis, the Mariners’ first-round pick back in 2016, suffered a terrible knee injury in a play at home plate during his summer pro debut. Various setbacks over the next two seasons meant he only was able to rack up just over 600 at-bats over his first two-plus seasons of pro ball and never could get in any kind of rhythm. A slow start to his 2019 season in Double-A had some wondering if it was ever going to come together. But then he got hot and his perseverance was rewarded with a September callup, where he homered in his first three big league games and finished with six in 18 contests.
Not only was Lewis healthy and able to pick up over 500 ABs in 2019, there was also no hesitation in his game at all and the numbers reflected that, particularly in June and July. His home park in Arkansas is not great for hitters and he found balls he was crushing were landing in gloves, with a home/road OPS split of .555/.896 OPS as proof. Those balls were leaving the yard once he got to the big leagues and he has the chance to have plus power when all is said and done. His strikeout rate did go up some and he’ll have to try to tone that down over the long haul at the Major League level.
Even with the knee injury, Lewis is still an average runner who will do a nice job in an outfield corner with a strong arm to boot. His plus makeup has been on display as he’s worked tirelessly to come back from his injury. He saw a lot of fastballs during his big league debut, something that won’t keep happening as he establishes himself as a big league regular. Betting against him to figure it out would be a mistake.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
After a huge junior year at Mercer that resulted in winning the Golden Spikes Award in 2016, Lewis profiled as one of the top college bats in the Draft class. The Mariners were overjoyed he somehow made it out of the top 10 so they could take him No. 11 overall, and he signed almost immediately. Unfortunately, they haven't really gotten to see just what kind of player he is after a gruesome knee injury suffered in a home plate collision during his debut summer, and ensuing complications and setbacks, has kept him off the field too much.
The good news is that after missing the majority of the 2017 season, Lewis did get a decent amount of reps in and reached Double-A, while playing in the Futures Game, in 2018. Many of the tools that made him such an exciting draftee are still there offensively, from a solid overall approach, albeit with some swing and miss, to easy plus power to all fields, which showed up in flashes last year. He has an arm that fits well in right field and enough range to stay there.
The biggest adjustments Lewis will have to make will be mental ones. In 2018, he was fine going straight ahead on the run, but any time he had to cut, he would move gingerly, and it wasn't clear if it was physical or mental. The Mariners are confident Lewis, who has always shown plus makeup, has put it behind him and can finally show what he's capable of consistently.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Undrafted out of Shiloh (Ga.) High in 2013, Lewis nearly captured the Southern Conference Triple Crown as a Mercer sophomore before starring in the prestigious Cape Cod League. He built on that success in 2016, garnering his second straight SoCon player of the year award as well as the prestigious Golden Spikes Award after batting a robust .395/.535/.731 with 20 home runs. The Mariners took Lewis with the 11th overall pick that June, and he signed for slot value at $3,286,700 two days later. Unfortunately, surgery to repair a torn ACL (as well as the medial and lateral meniscuses) in Lewis' right knee, an injury that he suffered during a home-plate collision, prematurely ended his pro debut and then delayed the start of his 2017 campaign. When he finally returned to the field, Lewis aggravated his knee while making a catch against the outfield wall, resulting in another trip to the disabled list, and it continued to bother him during the Arizona Fall League. He ultimately had the knee scoped in February and began 2018 on the shelf before reporting to Class A Advanced Modesto in May and advanced to Double-A two months later after an appearance in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
When healthy, Lewis shows the makings of becoming a dynamic offensive talent capable of hitting for both average and power. Big and physical, he possesses easy plus power to all fields from the right side of the plate, albeit with some swing-and-miss tendencies. The approach is solid, though, and he controls the strike zone well while showing feel for hitting to all fields. Lewis isn't a burner but shows average speed underway, and he compensates for a lack of range in the outfield with excellent instincts and jumps.
The long-term impact that Lewis' knee injury has on his speed has yet to be seen and could ultimately force him to right field, where his plus arm and power potential are both clean fits. Lewis may be slightly behind the developmental curve, but he has the tools, aptitude and makeup to quickly make up for lost time.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Lewis went undrafted out of a Shiloh (Ga.) High in 2013 and then played sparingly as a freshman for Mercer before nearly winning the Southern Conference Triple Crown and then starring in the Cape Cod League in 2015. He was named SoCon player of the year once again in 2016, when he also claimed the prestigious Golden Spikes Award by hitting a robust .395/.535/.731 with 20 home runs. In June, the Mariners were thrilled to find Lewis still on the board with the 11th overall pick, and they signed him two days later for slot value at $3,286,700. Lewis' pro debut in the Northwest League saw him pick up where he had left off in the spring, only to have his campaign come to an abrupt end when required surgery to repair a torn ACL as well as the medial and lateral meniscuses in his right knee suffered during a home-plate collision on July 19. After a lengthy rehab process, Lewis returned to the field for his first game action in June 2017.
Lewis is a dynamic offensive talent who projects to hit for both average and power. Big and physical, he possesses easy plus power to all fields from the right side of the plate, although the length of his swing does result in some swing-and-miss. That being said, he does have a solid approach, uses the entire field and controls the zone well, giving him the chance to become a slightly above-average hitter. Lewis isn't a burner but shows average speed underway, and he compensates for a lack of a range in center field with excellent instincts and jumps.
The impact that Lewis' knee injury has on his speed has yet to be seen and could ultimately force him to right field, where his plus arm and power potential are both clean fits. Finally healthy, he shouldn't have any trouble making up for the time lost during his lengthy absence.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Lewis may have boosted his stock more in the past year than any college prospect for the 2016 Draft. Undrafted out of a Georgia high school in 2013, he played sparingly as a freshman before nearly winning the Southern Conference Triple Crown and then starring in the Cape Cod League in 2015. He repeated as SoCon player of the year in 2016 while contending for the NCAA Division I lead in batting and home runs, making it a virtual lock that he'll become the first first-rounder ever from Mercer.
With his leverage and bat speed, Lewis has easy pop to all fields. His swing is busier than most scouts would like, but his approach is generally sound and he tied for the D-I lead with 66 walks entering NCAA tournament play.
Lewis is a fringy runner out of the batter's box, but he has solid speed once he gets going. Some evaluators think he has a chance to stay in center field, but most believe he's destined for right field, where he could develop into a serious home run threat with average or better tools across the board.