HomeTrending MLB NewsTwins' key offensive contributor ends up injured list again

Twins’ key offensive contributor ends up injured list again

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Royce Lewis had to make an early exit from the Twins’ opener due to a quad injury, and the problem is severe enough that the third baseman will be placed on the injured list, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Former top prospect Austin Martin is being called up to take Lewis’ spot on the active roster, and Martin will be making his MLB debut whenever he appears in his first game.

It remains to be seen how serious the quad problem might be, yet it represents another injury setback in Lewis’ young career.  Since selected as the first overall pick of the 2017 draft, Lewis has been limited to 350 career minor league games and 71 regular-season big league games, primarily due to two right ACL tears. Between the pandemic-canceled 2020 minor league season and the first of those torn ACLs, Lewis didn’t play a single game over the 2020-21 seasons.

There is little question that Lewis is ready for prime time, given how he has torn up both Triple-A pitching and (in limited fashion) MLB opposition since returning to action in 2022. Lewis has hit .313/.369/.564 with 18 homers over his 282 plate appearances in the Show, and he was also a force during Minnesota’s playoff run last October. The Twins installed Lewis into the everyday third base job and were excited to see what he could do throughout a full season, and this dream could still naturally be reached if this IL stint ends up being relatively minor.

Utilitymen Kyle Farmer and Willi Castro handle most of the third base time while Lewis is sidelined. Martin figures to add some multi-positional depth in his first time on a major league roster. Martin has played shortstop, second base, center field, and left field over his three minor league seasons and is considered at least a competent defender at any of his positions.

Martin shares some similarities with Lewis as a former high draft pick whose career has been hampered by injury.  The Blue Jays selected Martin fifth overall in the 2020 draft but then dealt Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota for Jose Berrios at the 2021 trade deadline.  Martin has played in 159 games in the Twins’ farm system over the last two years, as a pair of elbow sprains limited his playing time and perhaps his ability to generate power.  A lack of slugging has undermined Martin’s impressive ability to make contact and draw walks, as he has hit .263/.387/.405 over 252 PA at the Triple-A level.

Between his injuries and limited production in the minors, Martin went from being a top-25 prospect in 2021 to further down the top-100 rankings in 2022, to off the pundits’ radars entirely in the last two years of preseason evaluations.  While Martin’s ceiling seems to have been lowered, the 25-year-old seems to be on pace to at least be a utilityman in the majors.  If he can keep making contact and getting on base, this skill set, combined with a versatile defensive profile, will potentially make Martin a very useful player going forward.

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