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'It' Factor Steers Twins To Royce Lewis

Once the Twins narrowed their draft board to four or five players, it became clear that all of their potential picks were worthy No. 1 overall selections from a baseball standpoint.

So the tiebreakers in Royce Lewis’ favor boiled down to makeup and money.

Lewis, an 18-year-old shortstop at JSerra Catholic High in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., “has a unique ability to impact the clubhouse and his community,” said Mike Radcliff, the Twins’ vice president for player personnel.

The Twins emphasized the ability to survive the intense scrutiny that a top draftee encounters. It’s a big reason, the Twins believe, that their last No. 1 overall pick, Joe Mauer in 2001, thrived after being chosen by his hometown team.

“(Lewis) gets it,” Radcliff said. “He’s got that ‘it’ factor that a No. 1 pick needs to survive and move forward and have success at the end of the journey.”

The Twins believe Lewis also may accept less than the $7.77 million slot value, even though he is advised by agent Scott Boras. That would allow them to spend more of their $14.2 million bonus pool further down the draft board.

“It was a consideration, but I can tell you that Royce Lewis was a target of ours from the get-go,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins’ chief baseball officer, who didn’t make the final decision to bypass college pitchers and top-ranked draft prospect Hunter Greene until the final hour before the draft.

Twins scouts agreed that Lewis has great speed, and they project he’ll someday have the power of an elite hitter. He hit .377 with four home runs and 25 steals this year.

“I feel like I haven’t grown into my man strength yet,” Lewis said, “but you use speed for everything: defensively, offensively, and it helps with range. (Speed is) my favorite . . . because it never leaves you.”

The Twins project Lewis to remain at shortstop. He played center field and third base at JSerra, Falvey said, because “he’s a team guy" and a supreme athlete.


Alex Kirilloff Has A Clear Path To Minnesota

With the Twins declining to offer one of their mainstays a new contract, the path to Minnesota was cleared for Alex Kirilloff.

“You watch him play, it’s infectious. He’s a guy who loves his teammates,” Falvey said. “We’re just so excited to have him. We know he’s going to be a leader the second he steps on the field.”

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