The No. 11 overall pick from Mercer University signed his contract then took batting practice with his new team.
What did you do with your Saturday?
Kyle Lewis, the Mariners’ first-round pick of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft, started his with a trip back to Safeco Field, where he signed his MLB contract that included the maximum draft slot value of $3,286,700.
“I had to take a step back after I signed that contract,” he said. “I got chills for a moment.”
Lewis met with numerous people within the Mariners organization, including manager Scott Servais.
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“He’s a really nice kid, very respectful,” Servais said. “I’ve heard from a number of people from other organizations that scouted him and have been around him this spring. They said we really got a talented player and a really good person.”
After being ushered into the Mariners’ clubhouse, Lewis was handed a uniform so he could work out with the big-league team before Saturday’s game. From there, it got better. Robinson Cano gave him a pair of his custom designed turf shoes to wear and one of his brand-new black bats to use in batting practice. Felix Hernandez then handed Lewis one of his gloves to use, and keep.
“I’m keeping that bat,” he said. “I might have to use it in game. We’ll see.”
Lewis then shagged fly balls with Leonys Martin in center field and took batting practice in a hitting group that featured Dae-Ho Lee and Franklin Gutierrez. He sprayed line drives all over Safeco Field and even hit a homer into the bullpen.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I was pretty nervous. I was just trying to go out there and be myself and put my best swings up there and have fun with it.”
After the workout, he signed autographs for fans screaming his name, met with the media in a news conference announcing his signing, ate dinner in the Mariners’ Diamond Club, watched the game with his father and brother and had the crowd of over 30,000 stand and cheer for him when he was announced on the Jumbotron.
“It’s been a pretty good day,” he said. “It was just an unbelievable experience. This is something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life.”
Sunday might be a bit of a letdown.
That Lewis was in Seattle on Friday — less than 24 hours after being taken with the No. 11 pick on Thursday — was a first for Tom McNamara, the Mariners’ director of amateur scouting
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a first-round pick come in this quick,” McNamara said. “He was like, ‘I’m ready to go.’ ”
Lewis will head back to his home in Atlanta for a few days and then report to the Mariners’ facility in Peoria, Ariz. But he’s slated to join short-season Everett.
Lewis, who turns 21 on July 13, was named Baseball America’s College Player of the Year and first-team All-America and voted as the Southern Conference Player of the Year the past two seasons. He is also a semifinalist for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s Dick Howser Trophy. Both awards honor the nation’s top player, as selected by the respective organizations.
This past season as a junior at Mercer University, he hit .395 (88 for 223) with 70 runs, 11 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs, 72 RBI, 66 walks, 48 strikeouts, a .535 on-base percentage and a .731 slugging mark.
Lewis was projected to go as high as a top-three pick but didn’t go till No. 11 to a very a happy McNamara.
“We are thrilled to have Kyle in the organization,” McNamara said. “I don’t want to lie, going into Thursday we didn’t walk into the room thinking Kyle Lewis was going to be our first pick. We had to change things around a little. We had other guys lined up, but we had Kyle above those other guys.”
Lewis was admittedly anxious when he didn’t hear his name in the first 10 picks.
“I think naturally I was a little nervous,” he said. “I just tried to believe in the idea that I would end where I’m supposed to be. I knew I would get the call eventually.”
That it was the Mariners was fitting.
“I used to always wear a Mariners hat in high school,” he said. “I’ve always liked the organization.”