Royce Lewis, Tyler Stephenson Win Arizona Fall League Honors
Royce Lewis was presented with the Arizona Fall League's Most Valuable Player award prior to Saturday's championship game, the second honor this fall for the Salt River infielder and Twins' No. 2 prospect. Lewis, 20, also earned MVP honors at the annual Fall Stars Game.
Lewis batted .353/.411/.565 with three home runs in 85 at-bats in the AFL and led Salt River to the championship.
What made the season more rewarding for Lewis, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2017, was getting closer to home this fall. The Southern California native spent the regular season in Florida, splitting time between the Twins' affiliates in Fort Myers and Pensacola.
“It’s great just being here and playing in front of my family and friends again,” Lewis said. “To be back on the West Coast is always fun. To play with these guys that I played against all year, and seeing their talents on opposing teams, to finally have them on my team is great.”
Lewis displayed his versatility in the AFL by playing multiple positions for Salt River. Primarily a shortstop through his three minor league seasons, Lewis saw most of his action in Arizona at third base, as well as getting in a few games at second base and center field. He’s certainly aware that versatility can only help his career.
“I already knew I could play any position on the field,” Lewis said, but then added with a laugh, “except for pitcher because I can’t throw for strikes very much.
“I know my abilities and know that I can play defensively almost anywhere you want me.”
Glendale catcher Tyler Stephenson was awarded the AFL’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award prior to the championship game.
Named in memory of the former AFL player who was murdered in 2003 while playing in the AFL with Scottsdale, the award has been given annually since 2004 to the league's player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership. Winning the Stenson award just capped a valuable six weeks in Arizona for the Stephenson, the Reds' No. 5 prospect.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity,” Stephenson said. “Just the overall experience was awesome. It was a great opportunity, and I got to know a lot more people (and) guys from other organizations.”
Stephenson had a productive AFL season, batting .347/.418/.490 for Glendale. The key takeaway for the Georgia native was just staying healthy after battling injuries throughout his five-year minor league career.
Above all else, that’s his primary goal for next season.
“Just continue to stay healthy,” Stephenson said. “Just continue to stay on the field, stay healthy and continue to learn and have fun.”
Scottsdale shortstop Andres Gimenez (Mets) was awarded the EyePromise Vizual EDGE Award as the league’s leading hitter. In his second AFL season, the lefthanded hitter batted .371 in the fall, also leading all hitters in OPS at .999. Gimenez was not on-site to receive the award because he was traveling back to his native Venezuela.