Monday saw the first “Almost Mock Draft” from Today’s Knuckleball, dissecting some of the options each team inside the top-ten has at their disposal. Unlike 2015, when seemingly the whole world knew Dansby Swanson was going first, this season sees two or three players that could be on the Philadelphia Phillies’ wish list at 1-1.
Mercer’s Kyle Lewis has become the premier outfielder and offensive threat in this year’s MLB Draft class. The centerfielder has serious power potential combined with good enough instincts and natural athleticism to stick as an everyday major league outfielder.
While he had a nice high school career in Snellville, Georgia (Shiloh High School) that would see him go undrafted, it was his sophomore campaign at Mercer and his ensuing summer on the Cape that put him on the map. All he has done in 2016 is show that it was no fluke.
Lewis played 42 games as a true freshman at Mercer, starting 17 of them. It was no coincidence that the Bears were 14-3 in his starts, as his days of stardom were on the horizon. His days of being a two-sport superstar behind him — Lewis was actually more focused on basketball until college — he batted .281 on the season. We were shown a glimpse of his run-producing ability as he batted .357 with runners in scoring position, driving in 17 and scoring 21 more.
He would go on to win the 2014 Great Lakes League Player of the Year honors on the Lima Locos. All he did was bat .342 with six home runs and 36 RBI. Most impressively, he had a 23-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 152 at bats.
Where he bided his time until he became a starter in 2014 on Mercer’s bench, he stole the spotlight as a starter in 2015. He was atop the Southern League leaderboards in nearly every offensive category, batting .367, belting 17 home runs and accruing 56 RBI.
Two questions — and fair ones at that — arose surrounding Lewis’s game. If Lewis went undrafted, and wasn’t recruited heavily by surrounding baseball powerhouses Georgia Tech and UGA, was he simply a product of his environment? Was he succeeding amongst lesser talent of the SoCon? Was he a player whose offensive stats were enhanced by the aluminum bat and competition not usually found in the national rankings or College World Series?
His performance in the Cape Cod League helped silence any of the doubters. The Cape Cod League, of course, is a who’s who of the nation’s best collegiate baseball players. They are also a summer league that uses wooden bats, a pretty solid indicator of how one’s game translates to the big league level, and why so many of the nation’s best prospects spend their summers on the Cape.
Playing for the Orleans Firebirds, Lewis hit .300 while hitting seven home runs in just 150 at bats (or roughly one every 21 at bats). He had 24 RBI and 19 runs scored en route to an all-star appearance. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was not nearly as impressive as earlier, striking out 29 times and walking 11.
Entering 2016, Lewis was now in the public’s eye.
For more analysis, projections and video on Kyle Lewis, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full story by clicking the link below.