Name: Erik Lis
Position: First Baseman
DOB: March 8, 1984
Erik Lis was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of the 2005 draft, and since then, he has proved to be one of the better hitters in the Twins organization. A product of Evansville University, Lis has a classic left-handed batter swing, and has the ability to hit the ball to all fields. A slick-fielding first baseman, Lis is slated to start the 2007 in Fort Myers.
Lis was originally assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League, where he was a main cog in the Elizabethton Twins Appalachian League championship season. Lis has an uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball, and he stroked the ball to the tune of a .315 batting average in his first season of professional baseball. He could have tackled Midwest League hitting if promoted, but the Twins kept him in Elizabethton the entire season.
In 2006, Lis once again showed his dominance at the plate, and looked even more polished in his first season of full-season baseball. He appeared in 105 games for the Beloit Snappers, and was widely regarded as one of the best hitters in the entire league.
The blossoming slugger led the league in batting (.326), on-base percentage (.402), and slugging percentage (.547), while blasting 16 home runs. Of his 134 hits, Lis had 56 extra-base hits, including 37 doubles. He scored 69 times, drove in 70, and walked 53 times.
Most believed Lis could have been promoted to Fort Myers during the season, but Brock Peterson's production kept him in the Midwest League. He'll be in Fort Myers in 2007, where he should anchor a very good offensive team. TwinCitiesDugout.com got to see Lis work out at first base during the first day of workouts for Minor Leaguers, and he looked very smooth around the bag.
Batting and Power: Lis is a great hitter, and he seems to be able to get on base not matter who is on the mound. He hit 16 home runs in 2006, and the Twins are hoping that his home run total will go up as he gets more experience. If he can raise his power numbers, then he will widely be considered one of the best overall hitters in the Minor Leagues. He has adjusted flawlessly to professional baseball, showing the ability at the plate that made him one of the best hitters in college baseball during his time at Evansville.
Baserunning and Speed: Lis is not a fast guy, and the Twins know that his speed is not what is going to get him to Minnesota. He is not a bad baserunner, but he is also not somebody who is going to steal 15-20 bags a season. With as much as he gets on base, Lis is going to have to be relied upon to make good decisions on the basepaths, and he does just that. He's not going to get any faster, so he is going to have to rely on his head to give pitchers fits on the base paths.
Defense: Lis is not known as a good defensive player, but he looked pretty good when we saw him at first during Spring Training. Though it was only infield drills, Lis seems to have improved around the bag in the off-season, which is something the scouts wanted him to work on. He does not have a great arm, but some scouts project him as a possible designated hitter, so the Twins are not too worried about his defense either. I think he'll have a good defensive season in 2007, and could even get some starts in the outfield.
ETA. Late 2008 Lis is poised to have another successful season in 2007, and could finish the year in New Britain. The Twins have not really promoted the young slugger during his first two seasons with the organization, though he could receive one this season. He is at the top of the Minor League depth chart at his position in the Twins farm system, and if there is a lack of production at the first base spot in New Britain, the Twins will turn to Lis for help. Peterson seems to have figured out Minor League hitting, so he should be able to hold his own at New Britain, though some feel he could open the 2007 season in Rochester. If that is the case, Lis could get the chance to play in the Eastern League. If he can prove he can hit the pitching at that level, then he should be in Rochester by 2008. He'll need to work on his power numbers, and this writer believes he will.