Twins’ Cory Lewis Keeps Hitters Guessing—And Whiffing—With Unique Repertoire


Midway through spring training, Jorge Polanco walked into the Twins clubhouse with a confused look on his face, put his bat in his locker and sat down.

What’s the matter?

“I just took live BP, and the pitcher was throwing knuckleballs,” Polanco said incredulously. “Knuckleballs!”

Count Polanco as the first—and surely not the last—major league all-star to be flustered by 22-year-old righthander Cory Lewis’ repertoire.

“I would imagine he had never seen an 84 mph knuckleball,” Twins farm director Drew MacPhail said, “because I don’t know if anyone has.”

The 2022 ninth-rounder out of UC Santa Barbara comes armed with a “real impact carry fastball,” MacPhail said, “plus some of the best movement on his slider and changeup in our system.

“And then he throws a knuckleball incredibly hard,” MacPhail said. “That pitch is getting a crazy amount of misses so far. He punched out 30% of the hitters in Low-A, and now he’s punching out (nearly) 30% at High-A, too.”

Lewis opened his pro career at Low-A Fort Myers in April and held overmatched hitters to a .179/.259/.303 line. Within two months, his 55 strikeouts and 15 walks through 39.1 innings, plus a 2.75 ERA, got him promoted to High-A Cedar Rapids.

He got even better.

“He’s just taken off,” MacPhail said. “Brooks Lee (the Twins’ first-round pick in 2022) played in the same conference as Cory and said those were the most difficult at-bats he ever had in college.”

So how can a pitcher release a pitch with mid-80s velocity but without any spin?

“You’d have to ask a scientist. I’m no physicist,” MacPhail said. “What I know is, his pitch mix makes it hard to sit on any particular pitch. His offspeed stuff is that good. He throws them all for strikes. And if you’re sitting on the knuckler? Good luck. Good luck guessing where it’s going.”

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