366 days ago, Mike Hazen and the Arizona Diamondbacks traded UT Cooper Hummel for OF Kyle Lewis. At the time of this trade, Lewis had only known a single MLB franchise: the Seattle Mariners. He was a former top prospect and 2020 AL Rookie of the Year winner. Unfortunately for all involved, the asterisks that come with everything 2020 are quite relevant to Lewis’ story as he has yet to match that high.
- Rating: 2.57 out of 10
- 2023 MLB Stats: .157/.204/.255, 1HR, 3BB, 21K, 54PA (51AB) in 16 games
- 2023 MiLB Stats: .371/.457/.641, 17HR, 39BB, 58K, 293PA (248AB) in 63 games at Reno
- Date of Birth: 7/13/1995 (28)
- 2023 Salary: $1,610,000
- 2024 Status: FREE AGENT - Non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks exactly 1-year to the day after trading for him
2023 in Review
The season started optimistically enough for Lewis; he was the Opening Day Designated Hitter for his new team, in the leadoff spot. Unfortunately, he was unable to hit the ground running and ended up on the IL with an undisclosed illness by the second week of April. Whatever the illness was kept him sidelined until late May when he was assigned to Reno for his rehab stint. This lasted until June 12 when he was activated and immediately optioned to Reno fulltime.
The team reactivated him on June 30 and he played July 1. But it was another short tenure as he accumulated 12 total plate appearances in a week and was once again optioned to AAA on July 8. He had 3 hits in that time, all singles. Which matched his first MLB stint earlier in the year for hits, except one of the earlier three was a pinch hit 2-run-homerun against the Dodgers. The month of August was spent on a bus for Lewis. The team recalled him on July 31 but optioned him four days later. Then he was recalled again on August 14 only to be sent back to Reno on the 21st and added to Reno’s 7-day Injury List. Don’t be fooled though, he was sidelined until September 23 for this injury. He finished the season at AAA Reno and was left off the Arizona Postseason roster for each round.
His most recent MLB hit came on August 16 when he went 2 for 5 with a double. He never really got an extended look at the MLB level, but that became less of an issue as the season wore on: first the team was firing on all cylinders and he was not part of that. Then he got hurt, and that illness length and team swoon led to a trade for Tommy Pham who ate up the rest of the opportunity for Lewis in the middle of a heated Wild Card Race.
If there is a silver lining for Kyle Lewis’ 2023 season, it is most definitely that he demolished AAA in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. In only 63 games he made his presence known batting .371 with 17 homeruns, 16 doubles and 80 runs batted in. An impressive line, even accounting for the league as he was worth 164 wRC+ (100 is league average and the stat is adjusted for both league and park - basically he was 64% better than the average player in his league). This was his second season with AAA at bats, but he does appear to have developed from that first appearance in 2022, which bodes well for his future attempts to play baseball at the highest levels!
Sometimes, a team with minimal playoff aspirations can afford to take a flyer on a guy like Lewis. Unfortunately for him, it was quickly obvious the team as a whole was more prepared to break out than he was and his playing time suffered for it... His first interview after the trade (linked above on his name) still resonates with me, and I wish Kyle the best for however long he continues to play organized ball and beyond. The AAA stats are good enough he may end up on another MLB/MiLB contract in 2024, but he is also a prime candidate to head overseas and try to rejuvenate his career (and make more money).
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