It was no surprise when Royce Lewis was named to the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game, as he entered the weekend with a .407 average that was tops on the circuit. He carried that momentum onto the elevated stage and didn't take long to put it to use.
The top Twins prospect clubbed a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw Saturday to help power the East Stars to a 4-2 victory over the West on Saturday night at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Gameday box score
Lewis' performance earned him MVP honors, manifested in the form of a heavyweight title-style belt.
"I feel like I play for the UFC or something," he joked to MLB.com's William Boor. "It's pretty cool, maybe Conor McGregor-like, but I don't know if I'm going to walk around like him."
After a quiet first inning, Brewers right-hander Victor Castaneda replaced third-ranked Royals prospect Daniel Lynch on the mound for the West and quickly issued a four-pitch walk to Alec Bohm. That brought up Lewis, who took note of what Castaneda offered the top Phillies prospect.
"He threw four straight balls to the previous batter and I just went up there with the mind-set that he's going to throw a strike at some point and I've got to be ready for it," he said.
Ready for it, he was. Lewis parked the first pitch -- a 95 mph fastball -- over the fence in left-center to open the scoring.
"'I just want to hit this ball hard,' that's all I was thinking," he told MLB.com. "And I got a pitch I was able to drive."
The West responded right away as Royals No. 8 prospect Kyle Isbel and seventh-ranked Reds prospect Tyler Stephenson belted solo homers in the next two innings to knot the score at 2-2. Isbel's big fly came off Tigers No. 20 prospect Anthony Castro in the third, while Stephenson connected against Angels righty Isaac Mattson in the fourth to even it up.
It wouldn't be tied for long.
Bohm led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to right off the Nationals' Andrew Lee. Two batters later, Rays No. 11 prospect Josh Lowe roped a double to left on the righty's first offering, scoring Bohm all the way from first with the go-ahead run. Lowe stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Angels No. 2 prospect Brandon Marsh to extend the lead to 4-2.
Offseason MiLB include
Lewis may not have been involved in the decisive rally, but he was thrilled for the outcome -- and the experience as a whole.
"It feels great," the California native said. "Whenever you can play well it always feels great. For me, at the end of the day, just having my family and friends here and being able to spend time with some family closer to home and being in this great environment, this weather, it's a little different than the Florida State League, but like I said, it's just having fun again."
Mattson picked up the win, while Lee surrendered two runs on two hits and took the loss. Twins left-hander Zach Neff recorded the final two outs to earn the save.
Marlins No. 13 prospect Victor Victor Mesa exited in the fourth, an inning after pulling up awkwardly on a fly ball that was caught by Lowe in right field. He walked off on his own power but was replaced by Marsh.