Mariners News: M’s Get Steal of the Draft, Select Kyle Lewis at #11

Jul 9, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Fans dance during the seventh inning stretch of a game between the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Fans dance during the seventh inning stretch of a game between the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Mariners may have nabbed the steal of the draft in Mercer center fielder, Kyle Lewis.

Kyle Lewis was in the mix to be drafted first overall by the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Seattle Mariners must have been shocked to see him still on the board when Commissioner Manfred put them on the clock in the first round. The Mariners wasted little time picking Lewis with the 11th overall selection in the 2016 draft.

The 20-year-old Snellville, GA product dominated the Southern Conference this past season with the Mercer Bears. Lewis was named Baseball America’s College Player of the year and was a finalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award after slashing .395/.535/.731 across 223 at bats in 2016. He also contributed 11 doubles, 2 triples, 20 home runs, 72 RBI and 6 stolen bases through 61 games.

Big time production at the plate is nothing new for Lewis. He was brilliant during his sophomore season with Mercer in 2015, hitting .367 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI across 54 games. He followed that up by tearing apart the Great Lakes League, slashing .342/.425/.533 with 6 homers and 36 RBI through 39 games with the Lima Locos.

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Scouts have been keeping an eye on Lewis for a long time, but his stock began to soar following his stellar showing last summer in the Cape Cod League. The Cape is famous for being the top college All-Star league in the country, and Lewis was in a class by himself with the Orleans Firebirds. He hit an even .300 while posting a .344 on base percentage and slugging .500 across 150 at bats. Lewis tallied 7 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs and 24 RBI through 39 games.

Lewis is a big boy, standing tall at 6’4 and tipping the scales with a muscular frame at 205 pounds. Despite his impressive size, Lewis is a fluid athlete with speed on the base paths and above average range in the outfield. His future home is likely in one of the corners, but he has the athleticism to man center field in a pinch. Lewis also posses a very strong throwing arm, and scouts like his accuracy.

The only questions marks regarding Lewis have to do with his level of competition. Remarkably, he went undrafted out of high school, and was not heavily requited by division 1 programs. Lewis decided to go to Mercer University, and the rest is history. However, some scouts wonder if the subpar talent in the Souther Conference led to his incredible stats.

Personally, I do not buy into that. The Southern League may not churn out large numbers of big leaguers, but a guy like Rickie Weeks did pretty well for himself after staring in the Southern League. Also, Lewis proved in the Great Lakes League and the Cape Cod League that he can hit off the best arms in the country. has provided us with the following scouting report on Kyle Lewis:

"“Lewis may have boosted his stock more in the past year than any college prospect for the 2016 Draft. Undrafted out of a Georgia high school in 2013, he played sparingly as a freshman before nearly winning the Southern Conference Triple Crown and then starring in the Cape Cod League in 2015. He repeated as SoCon player of the year in 2016 while contending for the NCAA Division I lead in batting and home runs, making it a virtual lock that he’ll become the first first-rounder ever from Mercer. 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.”"

I am very confident that Kyle Lewis will be a solid everyday big league outfielder, possibly even an All-Star caliber talent. His skills on the diamond are well documented, but as Peter Gammons told the MLB Network audience following the pick, Lewis is a superb young man with excellent character.

"“I was told by several teams that (Lewis) was considered the number one guy in terms of makeup and adjustability in the draft.” – Peter Gammons, MLB Network"

Former Mariners’ second baseman, Harold Reynolds, raved about Lewis on MLB Network. Reynolds suggested that Lewis was the best player in the draft, and threw out Adam Jones as a comparable. The rest of panel agreed that Jones was a fair comp for Lewis, which is music to M’s fans ears.

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Ex M’s GM, Jack Zduriencik, who now works for MLB Network as an analyst, gave Lewis all 5’s and 6’s (out of 7) in his player evaluation. Seattle fans may not be a big fan of Jack Z, but he is a big fan of Jerry Dipoto’s first selection as Mariners GM.

MLB Network caught up with Kyle Lewis after getting drafted by the Ms, and the young man provided fans with an excellent first impression. Lewis described the moment of hearing his name called as being “the most exciting moment of his life”. When asked about becoming a Seattle Mariner, he responded by saying that he is “ready to go out there and play the way (he) knows how to play”. He was humble, charismatic and thoughtful while speaking with the MLB Network crew. Most telling of all, Lewis did the interview surrounded by his mother, father and brother. What more can Mariners’ fans ask for out of their first round pick?

The Mariners will likely start Lewis out with their affiliate in the Northwest League, the Everett AquaSox. Lewis is an advanced bat, and he has the potential to race through the system. I expect Dipoto and his staff to play it safe with the Mercer alum, but don’t be surprised to see Lewis patrolling right field at Safeco Field in 2018.

Next: Who Do The Experts Have the M’s Drafting Tonight?

Kyle Lewis has the chance to be a special player for the Seattle Mariners in the near future. He is a legit five-tool outfielder and when you combined this with his character, Lewis is a potential face of the franchise type of person. This has been an exciting day for Lewis, the Mariners and the M’s fans. I can’t wait to see what Lewis can do this summer in Everett with the AquaSox!