The future of baseball was front and center Monday within the confines of Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. There, Royce Lewis and Casey Mize -- the top overall picks in the past two First-Year Player Drafts -- squared off in the first of what promises to be years of
The future of baseball was front and center Monday within the confines of Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. There, Royce Lewis and Casey Mize -- the top overall picks in the past two First-Year Player Drafts -- squared off in the first of what promises to be years of marquee matchups.
Round 1 went to the Class of 2017.
Minnesota's top prospect homered twice and matched career highs with four hits and five RBIs to lead Class A Advanced Fort Myers past Lakeland, 13-0.
Gameday box score
It marked the second multi-homer game of Lewis' career. He went deep twice for Class A Cedar Rapids on May 27. The 19-year-old has hit .329/.418./.506 with nine extra-base hits, 24 runs scored and 17 RBIs in his first 21 games with the Miracle.
Two of those hits came off Mize, Detroit's top prospect, who was making his third professional start and second with the Flying Tigers.
"It was pretty cool facing him," Lewis said. "All of my teammates and the other guys were bringing up how we are the last two top Draft picks. But you just go out and try and play your game, because it's still the same. I was up there looking for pitches I could drive and I found a few."
Batting in his customary leadoff spot, MLB.com's No. 10 overall prospect reached safely in each of his first three plate appearances -- five straight after walking in his last two Sunday. Lewis singled to center field to start off the game and clubbed a two-run homer to right-center following a walk to Aaron Whitefield in the third. He added an RBI base knock to left and scored on a two-run single by Twins No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff in the fourth. Lewis struck out and grounded out in his next two at-bats, but slugged another two-run shot to left-center in the ninth.
"I'm just having fun out there," the California native said. "I feel that I'm a talented young man playing baseball. That's what I love to do, and I try to play as hard as I can every night. Even in that last at-bat, I was looking for something to drive. It's important to lock in there, because when you're up [11-0], it's natural to get a little lax. I felt like I gave away my previous two at-bats, so I was upset with myself. The homers come when you're not trying to hit them, but I was happy I changed my mind-set and got back to hitting the ball hard there."
It was his fifth multi-hit effort in 10 games and eighth in 21 contests since his promotion to the Florida State League. Lewis is hitting .318/.380/.489 with 41 extra-base hits, 70 RBIs and 74 runs scored in 96 games with Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. The shortstop has also swiped 26 bags in 32 attempts in his first full-season campaign.
"Obviously, there are a lot more games than in high school or even college," Lewis said. "It's been a grind for sure, but learning how to play and listening to your body even if you're not feeling 100 percent every day has been key. This is a dream job for most people and it will end eventually. But I thank God each and every day that I have the opportunity to play. I just want to have fun and stay healthy."
Travis Blankenhorn, Minnesota's 18th-ranked prospect, and Taylor Grzelakowski also went deep for Fort Myers. Kirilloff singled twice and drove in at least one run for the 10th time in 11 games.
Starter Charlie Barnes allowed six hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Hector Lujan (3-1) fanned four in 3 2/3 frames and Ryan Mason finished off Fort Myers' ninth shutout with a hitless ninth
Mize (0-1) was charged with three runs on five hits and a walk with one strikeout in three innings. The 20th overall prospect in baseball had pitched five scoreless frames through two starts between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Lakeland. Despite allowing a single and homer to Lewis, Mize has a fan in his fellow No. 1 overall pick.
"He had good stuff. I thought he had great stuff, actually," Lewis said. "I don't think he had his best stuff, but it was still plenty good. I was just hoping I wouldn't see that split-finger [fastball]. It's his Draft year and he's coming off a long college season and then some time off. I give him a lot of credit."
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.