To end Day 1 of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Dodgers selected Texas prep right-handed pitcher Jimmy Lewis with the 78th overall pick. This was the compensatory pick they got for Yasmani Grandal signing with the Brewers over the winter.
This is the high-upside prep player you would expect the Dodgers to select after taking a couple of “safer” college bats with their two 1st-rounders. Here’s what the experts say about Lewis:
“At 6-foot-6, 195 pounds, Lewis is ultra-projectable while already possessing electric stuff. He gets good extension on his mid-90s fastball, setting hitters up before putting them away with his 77-to-78 mph curveball with above average depth. He’s shown come comfortability with a changeup that flashes average, though it lacks consistency. Committed to LSU, look for Lewis to come off the board in rounds 2-4.”
Keith Law (Ranked #31)
“Lewis is a projectable right-hander who’s been up to 95 with a promising slider, a good delivery and plenty of athleticism to give hope that he’ll still repeat his mechanics even as he fills out.”
“Lewis still has plenty of room to add strength to his 6-foot-6 frame and he already can reach 95 mph with his fastball and carry low-90s velocity deep into games. He uses his size and a high-three-quarters arm slot to deliver his pitches on a steep downhill plane. Those attributes also help him stay on top of an upper-70s curveball with good depth than can become a plus pitch once it’s more consistent. Lewis also demonstrates some feel for a changeup but will have to use it more often against more advanced hitters. He has a fairly simple delivery for such a tall pitcher, and his strength and athleticism bode well for his control and durability. He’s part of a banner Louisiana State recruiting class but becoming less likely to make it to Baton Rouge.”
“Lewis had never participated in the summer/fall showcase or tournament circuit and entered the spring as somewhat of an unknown to all but area scouts. He quickly changed that, not only with his low- to mid-90s fastball and big downer curveball but with his advanced athleticism as a 6-foot-6 athlete. Lewis has gone 8-0, 0.44 on the mound this spring with 72 strikeouts in 47 innings in addition to hitting .396-3-42.”
Here’s some video:
Video courtesy of Prospect Pipeline and Donald Boyles.
Lewis was also a teammate of Brett Baty, who was the 12th overall selection by the Mets.
Lewis has a frame that could add some bulk, which could see a consistent uptick in velocity. Couple that with the fact he has a power curveball and a usable changeup and you have a projectable pitching prospect. He’s going to draw comparisons to Dustin May — sans the hair — because of the lanky frame and Texas roots, and if Lewis gets to that level, this will be an absolute steal for the Dodgers.
He’s committed to LSU, but the Dodgers (probably) wouldn’t have gone with Kody Hoese and Michael Busch in the first two rounds if they didn’t think they’d have enough money to ink Lewis as the No. 78 pick. Slot is $793,000, so as long as he doesn’t want more than $2 million, it should get done.
He’ll probably start out in the Arizona Rookie League, as most high school draftees do. And since the Dodgers seem to have their better pitching prospects avoid Ogden, it isn’t out of the question that Lewis could make it to Great Lakes sometime next season. For now, though, he’ll be at Camelback Ranch and work on becoming a better pitcher.