By: Abby Altman
*Note: This article was originally written May 20th, so obviously things have happened since
In 2021, the starting shortstop for the Minnesota Twins was Andrelton Simmons. Simmons was a previous gold glove winner, but his bat was nothing exciting, and he often brought down the Twins lineup in important games.
In 2022, the Twins now face a complete opposite issue.
After the MLB lockout, the Twins signed All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa from the Houston Astros for 3 years, with an opt-out option after each year. Correa, excluding a brief stint on the 10 day-IL (as of mid May), was batting .255, with a .721 OPS. Correa’s glove has been exceptional at shortstop, and he has been a very valuable addition to the team.
While Correa was on the IL, someone needed to fill in at the shortstop position. This is where the Twins brought in rookie shortstop Royce Lewis from AAA. Lewis was the number 1 overall draft pick in 2017. In the 11 games Lewis played with the Twins, he hit .308, with 4 doubles, 2 home runs, one of which was a grand slam, 11 RBI, and 12 runs scored.
Lewis still has a lot to learn in the big leagues, and that showed in the few mistakes he made at shortstop in his big league appearance.
Many fans are upset, however, that the Twins sent Lewis back to St. Paul and AAA upon the return of Correa.
The Twins organization stated that Lewis would be spending time at other positions, as well as shortstop while he was in AAA, to see where Lewis would fit in the Twins lineup, without having to bench Correa.
“We’re going to move him around the field a little bit, to get him a little bit of exposure at some different spots,” Baldelli said, via The Athletic. “The last thing we would want to do is start sending him all around the field to play in places where he’s literally never played a game…But he was fantastic for us.”
In his professional baseball career, Lewis has played 308 games at shortstop, 13 games at third base, 6 games in center field, and 5 games at second base.
There are not many places where the Twins are looking to replace the current fielder. Jorge Polanco has been heating up at the plate and holding second base steady.
Luis Arraez is in the most similar situation as Lewis defensively. Arraez has played third base, first base, second base, shortstop and left field since he joined the Twins. Lewis replacing Arraez is not a solution on anybody’s roster, however, as Arraez has been batting .354, with only 7 strikeouts in 113 at bats.
In his first at bat back in AAA, Lewis blasted a home run, showing once again that he does belong in the major leagues.
Since Correas’ return from the IL, he has batted .300 in the 6 games he played in. Lewis down in AAA has been batting .346 in his last 7 games.
After an apparent leg injury for right fielder Max Kepler, Lewis was once again called up to the big leagues, this time as a center fielder. Lewis played just 1 game at center field in his time in Saint Paul.
This center field debut did not last long. In the top of the 3rd inning, Emmanuel Rivera flew out sharply to deep center field. Lewis made the leaping catch at the wall, but this resulted in Lewis crashing into the wall, and leaving the game early with apparent “right knee soreness”.
The last 2 years, Lewis has been plagued with injuries, most prominent including an ACL tear on the same knee he was experiencing soreness in. More tests will be run to evaluate the degree of Lewis’s condition.
Less worrisome, but still concerning, Carlos Correa has contracted COVID and finds himself on the COVID IL.