Many were surprised when Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis slid down to 11th overall in the 2016 amateur draft, but the Seattle Mariners didn't hesitate to snatch up the 2016 Golden Spikes winner with their first round pick. Lewis started slowly in Short-A Everett, but didn't take long to get going and was the team's best hitter until a brutal ACL and Meniscus tear in mid July cost him the rest of his 2016 season. Lewis finished his shortened first pro season with a .299/.385/.530 slash line along with three home runs, 26 runs batted in and three stolen bases.
Lewis's best assets are his bat, as his swift, compact swing allows him to make contact well, and hit the ball for good power. His bat speed is already tremendous for a young pro, and will only get better with time. On the defensive side of the ball, Lewis isn't blazing fast in center field, but covers a good amount of ground with his 6-foot-4 frame, and handles himself very well with the glove. He doesn't have a deadly arm in the outfield, but it's serviceable enough to throw runners out on the basepaths. Many scouts have compared him to former Mariner Adam Jones, although most believe Lewis will wind up playing right field.
Lewis seems to be rehabbing well, and will likely start the season back in Everett, but could likely move up the ladder very quickly. One of the other things about Lewis that can't be measured by a scout is his attitude and passion for the game. Speaking to Lewis this past summer, it was impossible to tell that he was a kid who had lost his season. Everything he said was about moving on and getting back into form, and looking ahead to next year.
On top of that, his teammates had nothing but praise for him. Both Nick Zammarelli and Bryson Brigman, who played with Lewis both in the Cape Cod League and with Everett, spoke very highly of Lewis, and clearly respected him highly as a player and as a friend. Zammarelli even said after Lewis's injury that "Kyle is probably handling it better than I am." Obviously the skill set is the most important factor, but you can't teach things like attitude, passion and respect, and that doesn't seem to be a worry when it comes to K-Lew, as his teammates call him.
Lewis will likely climb through the Single-A Ranks in 2017, and most likely be in Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. With the injury setting him back a little, it seems likely that Lewis will be a Mariner at the end of 2018 or in 2019. Staying on the topic of hitters, the next focus will be on likely 2017 Mariners' first baseman Dan Vogelbach and his big, powerful bat.