High floor, high ceiling. College outfielder Kyle Lewis could be the foundation of a team's rebuilding project. The hard-hitting Lewis actually went undrafted out of high school despite raw ability that led scouts to keep an eye on him. A monster sophomore campaign at Mercer University in 2015 backed by his work in the Cape Cod League last year saw his draft stock skyrocket. Lewis is considered the No. 3 overall draft prospect by MLB Pipeline and seems a lock to go before the Tigers would see him with the ninth overall pick.
The 6'4" outfielder has good speed and solid defensive ability. He's played some center field but projects to a corner spot. Lewis' calling card is power, though. The righthander cracked 37 home runs in 449 at-bats over his past two seasons for Mercer, a clip that would put him near 60 home runs translated to a full major league season. The prospect of that power has fueled a rapid rise to the top of the draft boards this year.
Lewis' stint in the Cape Cod League last year against consistent, high-quality opposition proved to most that his power translated to wood bats against the best competition available. Mercer plays in the Southern Conference, which isn't one of the powerhouses of college baseball, and was one of the few concerns surrounding the big outfielder. His 1.266 OPS in 2016, paired with a ludicrous .336 ISO, locked him in for many as the premiere bat in the 2016 draft class.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball took a look at Lewis back in April.
Lewis' best physical tool is raw power. His swing is a little noisy but the ball jumps off his bat and he's improved his ability to manage the strike zone every year. His tear through the Cape provides re-assurance that the bat is real, the gaudy numbers not just a distortion due to metal and competition. Lewis' other tools such as running speed and arm strength are at least average according to most evaluators, and while not a big stolen base threat his tools serve him well on defense where he should be very good at either corner.
Cormican from the Good Phight is enthused over Lewis' bat speed, as well as his improved discipline at the plate. I'd urge you to check the article out for a fine bit of video analysis as well. There's a nice breakdown of the refinements Lewis has made in his swing over the past year.
I've seen a lot of Minor League and amateur baseball over the years and there are always a few guys who just ace the 'eye-test'. You see them and can just envision them dominating the sport.
Lewis best tool is probably his Power where he has Plus potential with that bat speed.
This past offseason Lewis focused on improving his patience at the plate so he could get better pitches to hit. It has been successful. He's already lapped his Walk total from last year, almost matched his Homers, his AVG is up 60 points and he's sporting a video game-esque 1.341 OPS.
We'll give MLB Pipeline the final word.
With his leverage and bat speed, Lewis has easy pop to all fields. His swing is busier than most scouts would like, but his approach is generally sound and he tied for the D-I lead with 66 walks entering NCAA tournament play.
Lewis is a fringy runner out of the batter's box, but he has solid speed once he gets going. Some evaluators think he has a chance to stay in center field, but most believe he's destined for right field, where he could develop into a serious home run threat with average or better tools across the board.
Bill Shanks of Scout reports that the Braves have met with Lewis, a Georgia native, who played his college ball in Macon. Presumably no club is better positioned to make an informed decision on him.
The Braves have mentioned an interest in college bats for the high draft pick. The team spent 20 of its first 26 picks on pitchers last year in the draft. The team has a history of picking kids from the state of Georgia, making Lewis a potential perfect fit.
The consensus overall is clear that the Braves will take either Lewis or Tennessee's Nick Senzel on Thursday evening. They seem set on acquiring a college bat with power. If the Braves pass on the homegrown Lewis in favor of Senzel, it would be a big surprise. The thought of pairing Lewis with Tigers' prospect Christian Stewart is an interesting one, but that would come completely out of left field. Presumably, you'll see Lewis wearing an Atlanta Braves cap on Thursday night, but some think he may go even higher.