By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
April 26, 2010
You would take one look at Chad Lewis playing third base in a high school game and wonder what a guy who is already built like a minor leaguer is doing all the way down here.
Gifted with raw right-handed power, a big league body for third base, and enough arm to stay there, the concern with Lewis is if he can bring enough contact into his game to allow his power to show as his best tool, which it is.
Henry Owens is the kind of pitcher Lewis needs to prove he can hit. As a strong right-handed hitter facing a left-hander who paints with curveballs, change-ups and saves the hardest and best located fastballs for the big right-handers, it’s similar to a plan of attack Lewis would face at the next level.
Owens won this contest, getting Lewis to ground out four times, including the final ground ball for the final out of the game in which Lewis was the tying run.
Scouts who like Lewis will not be swayed. They will bank on his right-handed power potential, they will believe he will improve with consistent wood at-bats, and they won’t be able to say no to what is already pretty close to a major league third base body. Lewis has enough arm strength to stay at third. His footwork will need improvement and consistency at the next level and his hands will need to continue to soften, but I felt he was better defensively around the bag in the spring than he was in the Fall. The good thing about four ground balls from a scouting standpoint is you got to see Lewis run. Speed won’t be a part of his game, but the guy ran hard on all four balls, which I appreciate and respect. He’d be a 30 runner in the big leagues, 40 at best, which is pretty common for guys of his size in the majors.
The bat has to be there for Lewis in the coming years with just enough contact for him to bring his power in. If a team likes Lewis, they don’t let this game change their minds. If they are skeptical if he will hit, they use this as an example of what scares them. I’ll give you an example both ways: I’ve seen way above-average raw right-handed power with wood to all fields in BP. In this game, I also saw Owens own him. A strong right-handed hitter should own a left-hander each time. In their third at-bat, Owens backed Lewis off the plate with two fastballs, showing control, one of his weapons. Owens came back with a harder curveball (he tends to toy with inferior hitters by throwing the slow roller off his finger tips) for a swing and a miss, then got Lewis way out in front of a change-up for a ground ball to short.
For me, I say you have to take the chance that the guy will figure out how to let his power come to him as a pro. It’s a high school guy, so you have the time to find out what he’s going to be. Somebody is going to take that chance.