Since the incorporation of the Jeter regime up until the present day, the Miami Marlins began and have continued to draw from the wealth of talent of their island neighbors just to their southeast. The name most Marlins fans know the most is Jazz Chisholm Jr who was brought in as a prospect for highly heralded pitcher Zac Gallen. Since, the enigmatic, extremely talented, and extremely marketable Jazz has risen to stardom both on and off the field. The Marlins hope the same for many of their international signees that have come after Jazz. No exception is Ian Lewis.
Lewis signed with the Marlins as a member of the 2019 international draft class and, along with Eury Perez, is one of the main reasons why that class remains highly heralded. The Marlins saw the potential in Lewis as he signed for a considerable amount: $950K. After the idle 2020 season, Lewis made his pro debut with the FCL Marlins as an 18 year old in late June of 2021 and immediately made an impression. In his debut game against the FCL Mets, Lewis hit his first career home run. In 43 games with the FCL squad, Lewis hit .302/.354/.497. A switch hitter, the Marlins worked Lewis out mostly as a lefty bat and he fared just fine. Lewis hit RHPs at a .279/.336/.481 clip.
And that was as a 5’11, 160 pound specimen. In June of 2022, Lewis returned to the field in Jupiter built up to 177 pounds. This time though, rather than the backfields, Lewis would be playing in the main stadium as a member of the Jupiter Hammerheads. In 51 games (he missed nearly a month with a hand injury) in a pitcher friendly league and against competition over two years older than him on average, Lewis’ on base prowess permeated as he hit .265/.347/.368. He had a manageable 21% K rate and walked in 10% of his plate appearances. This time though, Lewis’ platoon splits were even more skewed. I’m 139 ABs against righties, he hit .309/.396/.446. In a limited 46 AB showing against lefties, he hit .130/.184/.130.
Lewis exhibited a solid approach and the ability to turn anything into at least a double due to his 70 grade speed. Due to his bat speed and flashy hands and wrists, he also exhibited exit velocities over 95 mph on the regular, even after he returned from the hand injury that cost him nearly a month. Lewis’ biggest area for improvement is getting underneath the baseball. In 2022, his ground ball rate was an elevated 56%. In 2023, Lewis’ focus will be creating more launch and increasing his line drive rate. That said, as he proved in the Don’t Blink Home Run Derby, Lewis has the 60-grade raw power and he has the levers, athleticism, and youth on his side to allow his body to fully develop and to allow his game power to fully catch up.
Defensively, Lewis is a plus defender at second base where the same plus plus speed, quick hands and wrists, and good off-the-bat instincts serve him well. Lewis, who pitched in high school and was clocked in the low 90s, also has the arm strength necessary to fill in at shortstop and third base.
There are some uncertainties surrounding Lewis. Will he come by more launch? Will the game power catch up advantageously? Will he continue to switch hit? Will he continue to see older pitching well in pitcher friendly environments? And will the high-effort athlete remain healthy? While we have to wait and see, 2023 is off to a good start for Lewis. He has spent the offseason working out and training back home in the Bahamas with many of his countrymen including his good friend Jazz and looks ready to go.
Projected to start 2023 in A+ Beloit, Lewis is a potential five tool player who should have a lot of eyes on him this coming season.