Moving on with our Almost Mock Draft Revisited series, we take a look at the player I felt was going to be the 1-1 in the MLB Draft. Although he wound up slipping 10 slots, getting drafted right outside the top 10, Kyle Lewis put together a college season to remember and was en route to a terrific debut season until injury ended it prematurely.
Almost Mock: First overall — Philadelphia Phillies | Actual MLB Draft: 11th overall — Seattle Mariners
Lewis may have gone to one of the smaller Division I schools as the All-American outfielder for the Mercer Bears, but he played larger than life. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound center fielder had a big sophomore campaign, leading the Bears to the Southern Conference title behind a 17-home-run breakout performance. He followed that up with a huge summer out on the Cape, leaving the Cape Cod Summer League as the No. 3-ranked prospect. All eyes would be on Lewis for his junior campaign.
He didn’t disappoint.
Lewis had a season to remember, earning the coveted Golden Spikes Award as the College Player of the Year. Just looking at the winners from the past decade— names including David Price, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg, Kris Bryant and most recently Andrew Benintendi — Lewis put himself in elite company of seemingly can’t-miss future stars (aside from a Mike Zunino win, of course). Lewis finished his final collegiate season with a .395/.535/.731 slash line over 61 games, finishing second in the SoCon with 20 home runs while playing perfect center field, not committing an error and assisting in two double plays.
It seemed like the Philadelphia Phillies were a perfect landing spot for Lewis. They had a lot of outfield depth with Nick Williams, Cornelius Randolph, Roman Quinn, Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens, however they made it clear they were targeting a bat and not A.J. Puk or Jason Groome as some expected. With the Phillies rebuild mode almost complete, it seemed likely they would tab a collegiate bat, one close to being able to compete in the near future.
Instead the Phillies went young, relying on the outfield bats currently on the farm, and selecting Mickey Moniak first overall. Lewis would be the third outfielder taken overall, seeing Corey Ray go to the Milwaukee Brewers at No. 5 before being taken by the Mariners 11th overall. They agreed to terms, locking up Lewis for the exact slot bonus at $3,286,700.
Lewis made his professional debut on June 17 and doubled and scored in his third at bat. He launched his first career home run three days later and by the end of June, Lewis was rolling.
He earned Northwest League All-Star honors as he became a well-balanced hitter at the plate. Lewis also was named NWL Player of the Week on July 11 after going 11-for-26 with three home runs during the week. He fell a home run short of the cycle on July 10, the same night he delivered the game-winning, two-run single in a Felix Hernandez rehab start. Lewis put his slow start behind him and was one of the hottest hitting players in the minors.
That was until July 19. After drawing a walk in the bottom of the seventh, Lewis injured his right ACL rounding third and colliding with Tri City’s catcher at the plate. Despite still scoring, Lewis’s season would come to an end as the Mariners put him on the 60-day disabled list with a torn ACL.
Despite the slow start, Lewis put up terrific numbers in his small sample size. He slashed .299/.385/.530 while being an extra-base machine. He delivered eight doubles, five triples and three home runs while going a perfect 3-for-3 on the base paths. He showed an advanced feel at the plate, striking out 22 times in his 135 plate appearances while walking an impressive 12 percent of the time.It shouldn’t come as a surprise as he finished second in DI in walks with 66 in his Golden Spikes-winning campaign.
Lewis also didn’t seem to have too many holes in his game. The right-handed hitter’s splits against righties (.304 with two home runs), were not that far off from his performance against lefties (.280 and one home run). He excelled with runners in scoring position, batting .372 and collecting 21 of his 26 RBI when it mattered most. He showed he has the makeup, as he turned around a slow start and caught fire before the injury derailed his season.
For more on Kyle Lewis, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full profile by clicking on the link below: