Minor League Profile: Joey Lewis
The Royals drafted first baseman Joey Lewis in the 41st round of the 2009 amateur draft.¬† In Starr’s Mill High School (Fayetteville, Ga.), he earned accolades as the Louisville Slugger High School All-American after batting .506 with 14 home runs as a senior.¬† At the University of Georgia, where he played for three years, he was the Bulldogs’ primary catcher and led the club with 19 doubles his junior year, where he batted .282 with 19 home runs.¬† Perhaps a testament to his offensive abilities, the Georgia native also served as designated hitter when he needed the day off behind the plate.¬† He helped his high school team earn a ranking as 14th in the country by Baseball America and helped Georgia reach the finals of the College World Series in 2008.¬† Lewis was selected along with a handful of Bulldogs, including first baseman Rich Poythress (Seattle Mariners, 2nd round), starting pitcher Trevor Holder (Washington Nationals, 3rd round) and relief pitcher Dean Weaver (Nationals, 7th round).¬† Having played for a competitive high school club and for the usually high-stakes Southeastern Conference in college, Lewis hails from a background of playing for championship-caliber ball clubs at the amateur level.¬† Hopefully, playing with such high expectations will translate to Lewis’ professional career.
After signing with the Royals, he began his professional career for the Pioneer League Idaho Falls Chukars.¬† He hit .275/.354/.406 with one home run and nine runs batted in in 69 at-bats and 20 games.¬† With their flurry of dark horse prospect catchers in the lower rungs of the system, Lewis probably did not have a future behind the plate, and perhaps what was more interesting was that the Royals felt comfortable playing him at first base, though he managed to catch one game for the Chukars in 2009.¬† Following the season, he played in the Arizona Instructional League with 55 other Royals prospects.
He was promoted to Low-A Burlington this year and so far he has hit .236/.343/.449 with four home runs in 89 at-bats.¬† Unlike the rather neutral Pioneer League, the Midwest League (which features the Burlington Bees) is a pitcher-friendly league, particularly in the early weeks of the season, where the weather is usually cooler.
At 6’4″, 220 pounds and with his college background playing for a southern university, Lewis reminds me a bit of a right-handed version of Northwest Arkansas Naturals first baseman Clint Robinson.¬† Thus far in his professional career, Lewis has drawn walks at a decent pace but has struck out in more than his share of plate appearances (57 thus far in 184 PA’s).¬† The raw power and plate discipline are certainly there but he must work to make more consistent connection with the baseball.¬† Lewis is blocked by a flurry of first basemen in the system, particularly Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer.
From what I have heard and read about Lewis, he needs to work to smooth his swing, which can be loopy at times, in order to prevent strikeouts.¬† He also has plenty of work to accomplish defensively in his transition to first base.¬† However, the tools for a productive first baseman are certainly there.¬† Perhaps with his raw power and advanced background, he could steadily work his way up the system a la Clint Robinson.
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