FORT MYERS, Fla. — Top prospect Royce Lewis will undergo knee surgery on Friday in the Twin Cities after tearing his right ACL, Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey announced Wednesday.
The rehab process is expected to take between nine months to a year, wiping out an entire season for the 21-year-old Lewis, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft and is expected to be the Twins’ shortstop of the future.
The injury wasn’t a result of one specific event, Falvey said. Lewis first felt soreness in his knee while doing side-to-side running while he trained in Texas, preparing to come to spring training. Shortly after, he slipped on some ice, which could have contributed to the issue.
Lewis initially thought it was a strain or a bruise, and he reported the pain to Twins doctors when they were evaluating him on Monday. A subsequent MRI revealed the bad news.
“While disappointing, he’s Royce,” Falvey said. “He’s got a smile on his face, knows he’s going to have a rehab year ahead, knows he’s going to have to put in a lot of work. But he’s prepared and ready to do that.”
Lewis will have his surgery on Friday, performed in Minnesota by team doctor Dr. Chris Camp. He’ll stay for a few days to recover, Falvey said, and then will return to Fort Myers, where he will start the long rehab process.
It’s a tough break for Lewis and the Twins. Because of COVID-19, Lewis was not able to get consistent at-bats during the 2020 season, either. Lewis joined the Twins at spring training and then spent the summer at the alternate site in St. Paul, continuing his development.
“We saw continued improvement at shortstop (in St. Paul), that’s always been a focus defensively,” Falvey said. “He can make the flash play as well as anybody. He can go extend because his athleticism just plays, but those routine plays and getting those ground balls regularly, that was an area of focus for him developmentally, and we thought he did a good job over there last year. Offensively, the same thing really.”
Falvey said Lewis, the No. 17 prospect overall per MLB Pipeline, likely would have been at Double-A Wichita to begin this season.
Instead, he has a long road ahead of him, though one they feel he is well-equipped to handle. After the initial shock of the diagnosis wore off, Falvey said Lewis turned his attention immediately to what needed to be done in the rehab process.
“The thing about Royce is he’s such a positive kid and positive person, and he’s such an incredibly hard worker,” Falvey said. “That is a good foundation to be able to put yourself in a position to rehab for an injury like this.”