Royce Lewis entered the season with Class A Cedar Rapids looking to incorporate a new element into his swing -- a high leg kick. But after mixed results through seven games, he decided to scrap the new approach and get back to basics on Saturday.
The result for the top-ranked Twins prospect was his third career four-hit game as he went 4-for-4 and scored twice in a 9-2 setback to Kane County at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
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"My timing has been off to start this season and the stats show that," said Lewis, who entered Saturday with six hits and a .222 average. "So I just went back to no stride. I said that I'm going to go back to just trusting my hands and I didn't use the high leg kick. I really just focused on my hands and luckily found some holes tonight."
The 2017 top overall Draft pick accounted for half of the Kernels' hits and both of their runs. In the first inning, he singled to center field and came around to score on a double by Twins No. 6 prospect Alex Kirilloff. Lewis led off the third with another base hit and, after stealing second, came home on a throwing error by third baseman and D-backs No. 28 prospect Eudy Ramos to give Cedar Rapids a 2-0 lead. He added singles in the fifth and eighth.
Video: Royce Lewis notches fourth hit
"I felt good out there tonight, and it was nice to do it with my parents here in the stands," the 18-year-old shortstop said. "You know, as a team we're just trying to get rolling again. We had a six-game winning streak and then we missed a week because of the weather and then lost the next two. So it was tough to have that time off, but we're trying to get going again."
MLB.com's No. 20 overall prospect had a pair of four-hit games last season with Cedar Rapids. In his Midwest League debut on Aug. 12, Lewis made a loud first impression with a four-hit night that included an RBI in a 9-1 victory over Quad Cities. A week later, Lewis had four more hits and an RBI in a 12-2 win over Beloit. In both cases, every hit was a single.
"I'm always happy when I can contribute to the team, but you never want to lose," he said. "I had a great game tonight, but it was just on the wrong day. To be honest, I wish this happened when the whole team was hitting a couple of weeks ago. But the only thing I can control is playing the game each and every day as hard as I can and, unfortunately, we just didn't get the 'W' today."
On Saturday, the Cougars tied the game with two runs in the fifth as William Gorman drove in Ryan Grotjohn with a base hit and Yoel Yanqui came home on an error by third baseman and Twins No. 20 prospect Andrew Bechtold.
Kane County blew it open two frames later with a seven-run outburst. With the bases loaded and one out, Ramos knocked in Luis Alejandro Basabe with a single to center. Following an error on first baseman Trey Cabbage, Joey Rose, Renae Martinez and Grotjohn delivered RBI hits as the Cougars sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.
Basabe finished with three hits and a run scored, while Rose and Martinez each drove in two runs.
Carlos Bustamante (1-0) picked up the win with two scoreless innings out of the bullpen, yielding one hit and striking out one.Jose Martinez (0-1) surrendered seven runs -- five earned -- on four hits and two walks in 1 1/3 frames.
"I'm going to keep working [on my swing] and see how it goes," Lewis said. "I was actually a little uncomfortable today, but it worked, so we'll see what happens. It's going to come down to success though. I'm going to stick with whatever approach gives me the most success."