By: Chris Larson
The Seattle Mariners might be in the midst of a rebuild and trying to figure out what the next great brand of baseball, that they will play is going to look like, but that doesn't mean that all is lost for this season or that there aren't certain players to identify as key holders to the gateway to the future. Every September, prospects receive a call up and for some teams it's to help give that particular team a push into the playoffs, but for other teams such as the Seattle Mariners, it's to start to get a glimpse towards what the future might look like.
One important piece to the Seattle Mariners future equation is receiving his own call-up on Tuesday - that being 24-year old, Kyle Lewis. Lewis was drafted by the Seattle Mariners during the 1st round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft and was selected with the 11th overall pick. An original native of Snellville, Georgia, Kyle Lewis has come with a lot of promise since being drafted and the Mariners are hoping to see some of that promise starting Tuesday at the big league level.
The road to this point, since being drafted by the Mariners in 2016, certainly hasn't been an easy one for Kyle Lewis. On July 20th, 2016, it was announced that Lewis would be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season with a torn ACL along with a medial and lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. That injury resulted from a collision at home plate during an Everett AquaSox game and was a disappointing event when it was announced for the entire Seattle Mariners organization.
Fast forward to Spring Training 2018 and there was yet another setback for Kyle Lewis once again revolving around his knee. This time around, the young prospect had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean up the fatty portion of his patella and remove a piece of bone that was causing irritation in his right knee. Unfortunately, it ended up delaying when Lewis was ready to start Spring Training and sort of pushed everything back for Lewis throughout the remainder of that season.
Kyle Lewis wound up appearing in 86 games between High-A and Double A during the 2018 season and combined for a: .244/.306/.405 slash line over 152 plate appearances over that span. Furthermore, Lewis had shown enough promise that the Seattle Mariners were already looking forward to seeing what he could do come Spring Training 2019 and see if his skills had advanced to the point where he could potentially move up to Triple-A.
Despite the promising outlook, the Seattle Mariners ultimately decided to assign Kyle Lewis to Double A to begin the 2019 regular season and that's where he has played ever since. Over the span of 122 games or 517 plate appearances, Lewis put up a: .263/.342/.398 batting line with 120 hits, 25 doubles, 2 triples, 11 home runs, 62 RBI, 56 walks, and 152 strikeouts this year with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. In case you are wondering, those numbers were nine-percent better than the average batting line of the players, in the Texas League this year, as weighted by wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus).
Now, the next part of Kyle Lewis's journey to the big leagues will start Tuesday and the Seattle Mariners still feel as though the 24-year old has a ton of potential and will live up to the hype that has been attached to his name ever since he was drafted in 2016. Despite having a high number of strikeouts in Double-A this season, many scouts still believe that he has enough bat skills to be a power threat at the big league level and has the potential to hit for power to all corners of the field.
Currently, Lewis ranks as the tenth best prospect in the Seattle Mariners farm system, and many expect him to eventually be a pivotal role player in the Mariners outfield trio. According to many scouts, Lewis possesses great enough arm strength to play out in right field and enough ability to be a major league ready at that position. For the Mariners, that is going to be key and a big part of how they end up planning out what the future is going to look like for the big league club.
As it stands right now, Seattle has Domingo Santana occupying left field and Mitch Haniger holding down fort in right field heading into next season, despite the fact that both are currently on the Injured List. Furthermore, the Mariners have the speedy Mallex Smith out in centerfield meaning that the only potential opening, as of right now looking towards next season, would be a fourth outfielder role for Kyle Lewis. However, if Seattle feels as though that Lewis does a good enough job of proving himself during this year's big league callup, then they could always make room for him during this coming offseason.
One of the key decisions that is going to come into play in determining that is if the Seattle Mariners feel as though they need additional offense within their lineup or if a significant injury ends up happening to one of the aforementioned Domingo Santana, Mitch Haniger, or Mallex Smith. Besides being able to hit for power to all corners of the field and the fact that he is a power threat, many scouts expect Kyle Lewis to be a valuable weapon in the middle of the batting order and to pan out to be one of those hitters that the opposing team fears. Therefore, if the Mariners feel like they need additional offense looking ahead towards next season, they can always opt to clear room for Kyle Lewis and give him regular big league at bats.
In addition, another key factor into that decision is going to come down to how often Kyle Lewis strikes out at the plate and how much plate discipline he ends up showing at the big league level. This season with Double-A Arkansas, Lewis struck out at an alarming 29.4%, as illustrated by the 152 strikeouts that he racked up over 517 plate appearances, and that is going to be something that he'll need to work on moving forward as he eyes trying to get an everyday spot with the big league club. Of course, with all power hitters, there are going to be a lot of strikeouts, but the strikeouts might end up being too much of a problem for Kyle Lewis and his bat to the point where it ends up holding him back from reaching his true potential.
Despite all of that though, this is an exciting moment for the Seattle Mariners and their entire franchise, as they continue to look towards the future and determine what the brand of the next great Seattle Mariners team is going to look like. Although this season has been a frustrating one for the Mariners fanbase and organization, it has allowed everyone to get a glimpse of the future and Kyle Lewis is certainly a pivotal part of that future puzzle. While, the 24-year old might have had his fair share of knee injuries over the past couple of seasons, that doesn't take anything away from the potential that he possesses and the expectations that scouts throughout the Mariners organization continue to have for him. When healthy, Kyle Lewis could easily be one of the top prospects in baseball and he will have the chance to start showing his true talent at the big league level starting Tuesday.