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Zulgad’s Roundup: Following two lost seasons, top pick of 2017 draft will get chance with Twins

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays
Feb 27, 2020; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop Royce Lewis (75) smiles as he works out prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Shortstop Royce Lewis, who was taken first overall by the Twins in the 2017 draft, will be the final member of the Top 5 of that class to make his big-league debut when he does so on Friday against the Oakland A’s at Target Field.

Lewis was summoned by the Twins to make the trip from Triple-A St. Paul after Carlos Correa suffered a bruise to the middle finger on his right hand when he was hit by a pitch on Thursday in Baltimore. The initial fear was that Correa would have to go on the injured list because the Twins suspected he had suffered a fractured finger, but the team learned that was not the case on Friday and Correa will avoid the IL. Lewis, however, still got the call as infielder Luis Arraez went on the COVID IL, as did struggling starter Dylan Bundy.

Lewis, who will turn 23 on June 5, had his progress slowed by the fact there was no minor league season in 2020 because of the pandemic and then he missed all of last season after suffering a torn right ACL. The top three picks in the 2017 draft were all out of high school. Lewis had played at JSerra Catholic in California, while the Reds selected hard-throwing righthanded pitcher Hunter Greene from Notre Dame (Calif.) High School and the Padres took lefthanded pitcher Mackenzie Gore from Whiteville (N.C.) High.

Greene, 22, made his debut this season with the Reds and is 1-4 with an 8.71 ERA in five starts. He got rocked in the Reds’ 10-5 loss Thursday in Milwaukee, giving up eight runs and nine hits in 2.2 innings. Gore opened the season in Triple-A but has gone 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts since being called up by the Padres.

The final two picks in the Top 5 were both college players.

Brendan McKay of Louisville was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays as a two-way player and made his major league debut in 2019. However, he had shoulder surgery, a flexor strain in his forearm and then underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He is now focusing exclusively on pitching and trying to make his way back to the big leagues. Righthanded pitcher Kyle Wright was taken fifth by Atlanta out of Vanderbilt and has spent parts of the past five years with the defending World Series champions. Wright is 3-1 with a 1.74 ERA in five starts this season.

Lewis will arrive after having had early-season success with the Saints. He was hitting .310/.430/.563 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 24 games. The expectations will be high from Twins fans, but it’s important to remember that first impressions in baseball (especially at the plate) don’t serve as a true indication of future success.

Correa, one baseball’s best shortstops, had heated up at the plate of late. He was slashing .412/.444/.588 with one home run and eight RBIs in his past eight games after starting the season hitting .167/.254/.250 with one homer and three RBIs in his first 16. Correa signed a three-year, $105.3 million deal with Minnesota in late March after failing to get the type of multiyear contract he wanted on the free agent market. He can opt out of his contract after each of the first two seasons and the expectation has been he will do exactly that following the season.

That would open the door for Lewis to take over at shortstop. At least for the next few days, Lewis appears in line to get that opportunity.

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