Royce Lewis went 4-for-5 in his debut with Class A Cedar Rapids on Saturday night after being promoted from the Twins' rookie team in the Gulf Coast League.
All four of the hits were singles for Lewis, who batted leadoff in Cedar Rapids' 9-1 victory over Quad Cities.
The Twins announced Saturday morning that Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick in the June amateur draft, was being promoted after about two months with the Fort Myers-based rookie team.
Lewis batted .271 in 36 games for the GCL Twins with three home runs and 18 RBI.
“The performance alone wouldn’t have warranted a promotion,” Twins GM Thad Levine said. “It was the scouts and player development guys who [advised] that he could not only handle this but potentially help [Cedar Rapids] trying to make a late-season push.”
The Kernels have 22 regular-season games remaining.
The move bypasses the Twins' Appalachian League team in Elizabethton, Tenn., which is the place where most young players stop on their ascent toward the major leagues. Byron Buxton, for example, split his first professional season between the GCL Twins and Elizabethton when he was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in 2012.
By skipping Elizabethton, Lewis has passed another highly regarded 18-year-old shortstop prospect, Wander Javier, but Levine said that’s not a reflection of their status within the organization. “This is not meant to separate he and Wander Javier at all,” the general manager said. “I anticipate both guys will go into spring training next year competing for jobs. We’ll keep that competition very fresh.”
The Twins also have Nick Gordon playing shortstop at Class AA Chattanooga, and Jermaine Palacios at high-Class A Fort Myers, each of whom was recently rated the best fielder in his respective league in a Baseball America poll of scouts and managers.
“I don’t think anybody in baseball has ever leveled the complaint, ‘We just have too dang many good shortstops,’ ” Levine joked. “We don’t plan to be the first.”
Steps up the ladder from Cedar Rapids include Fort Myers (advanced Class A), Chattanooga (AA) and Rochester (AAA).