The Minnesota Twins on Saturday signed Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick in last week’s amateur draft, giving the shortstop from San Juan Capistrano JSerra High a $6,725,000 bonus that’s the largest for a high school player since the new compensation system began five years ago.
“My family and I noticed the ‘Minnesota Nice.’ That was the first thing we noticed,” the high school shortstop from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., said. “We thought that was awesome. I said, ‘Hey, I’ll be a perfect fit here.’
”When Twins broadcaster and hall of famer Bert Blyleven jokingly asked whether Lewis would head straight to Triple-A, the former JSerra High Schools star didn’t miss a beat.
A little earlier, Lewis had been taken into the Twins’ clubhouse between games of a doubleheader, where he met another hall of famer in the manager’s office.
“I just met Paul Molitor,” Lewis said. “I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Over 3,000 hits, .306 career batting average. I’d like to do that someday.”
Respectful and engaging, Lewis lived up to everything his new employer said about him in the wake of Monday’s stealth decision to take him ahead of college pitchers Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright as well as Sports Illustrated cover subject Hunter Greene.
Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey lauded Lewis for showing the “utmost level of work ethic, integrity, character and passion for the game.”
While some have questioned why the Twins passed on a trio of high-end pitchers, especially given the crying organizational need, the Twins were able to execute their draft strategy of maximizing a $14.16 million bonus pool. According to sources with direct knowledge, Lewis received a club-record signing bonus of $6.725 million, well below the approved slot of $7.77 million and well above the $6 million figure they floated to McKay with roughly two hours left in a tortuous process.
Top pick Royce Lewis already feels like a ‘perfect fit’ with the Twins
The Twins made a big bet on Lewis, who is the franchise’s fifth player drafted in the top 10 since 2012. He was also the first player taken No. 1 overall by the team since Joe Mauer in 2001.
MLB.com ranked Lewis as the fifth-best prospect in this year’s draft class and third-best high school player, behind right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene and left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore.
“This is every boy’s dream,” Lewis said at a news conference at Target Field held between games of a doubleheader. He will start his pro career with Fort Myers of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Lewis attends JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. As a junior, he was the Los Angeles Times high school baseball player of the year after hitting .429 with four home runs. During the Summer in 2016, he played in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field and the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park, and was named MVP of both games. Lewis played mostly third base and outfield his first three years of high school before moving to shortstop for his senior year.
Lewis was considered one of the top prospects for the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. He is committed to the University of California, Irvine to play college baseball. The Minnesota Twins selected him with the first overall selection of the 2017 draft. The Twins announced his signing on June 17, 2017.