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Twins Daily: Royce Lewis continues hot start in Arizona Fall League

Lewis is pounding the ball with authority this fall.

In week 2 of the Arizona Fall League season, the Salt River Rafters went 4-1 to end the week tied atop the East Division standings at 6-4. After coming out scorching hot in the seasons first week, Royce Lewis continued that in week two with his bat while also adding his speed on the basepaths to the display of tools he’s shown thus far in the desert. Along with Lewis, a pitcher may have started making a name for himself with a level of efficiency and dominance on the week that’s quite eye-opening.

To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading!

(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name)

Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall)

Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25 being postponed due to lighting in Glendale.

He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended.

After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3:

In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways.

In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona.

Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall)

Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward.

That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day.

He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts.

Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall)

Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests.

In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts.

He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching.

He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week.

Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall)

Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other.

In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one.

That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River.

Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs.

Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall)

Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame.

In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River.

Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall)

The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that.

Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three.

Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall)

Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa.

He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts.

On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches.

If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with.

Other AFL and Minor League Links

-After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall)’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development

This story originally appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared as part of a collaboration between Bring Me The News and Twins Daily.