The Minnesota Twins selected Royce Lewis, a shortstop from JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano first in the Major League Baseball Draft in June. The phenom had signed to play college baseball at UCI, but he has signed a contract for nearly $7 million to play for the Twins, so don’t expect to see Lewis at Cicerone Field next season.
Lewis, widely regarded as the best baseball player in Southern California, is the first Orange County high school player ever selected No. 1 in the baseball draft, according to OC Varsity. OC’s Phil Nevin, who was the first overall pick in 1992, was at Cal State Fullerton at the time he was drafted.
Lewis and his family live in Aliso Viejo. His dad William Lewis is know to OC foodies as the long time wine expert and partner at The Winery in Newport Beach and Tustin.
Had Lewis gone on to attend UCI, he would have joined second baseman Keston Hiura on the team next spring. That is if Hiura was still on the team himself. The 2017 Big West Conference Player of the Year was himself selected No. 9 in the MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, the highest draft pick in UCI history.
“He is the best college hitter in the country,” said Wynn Pelzer, the Brewers’ scout for Southern California. Hiura won college baseball’s NCAA Division I batting title with a .442 average for UCI this past season. The All-American was the team’s designated hitter after suffering an elbow injury last September.
“I really do believe that he is a major leaguer and I think he’s a major leaguer for a long time,” UCI Coach Mike Gillespie said in the Daily Pilot. Gillespie should know, having coached some 100 players in his career who would go on to play in the majors. Now Gillespie has to go out and find some more to replace these two OC major league prospects. A third OC player joined Lewis and Hiura as first-round selections: Nick Pratto of Huntington Beach High School, who was selected No. 14 by the Kansas City Royals.