CEDAR RAPIDS — For probably the first time since he arrived here last August, Royce Lewis seemed a little flustered Friday night. Granted, it was one of those OK-to-be flustered moments.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels shortstop became the ex-Cedar Rapids Kernels shortstop when he was informed after his team’s 4-2 win over Fort Wayne at Veterans Memorial Stadium that he was being promoted to the high-Class A Fort Myers Miracle.
“Excited. How could you not be?” he said, as he packed his gear with the help of clubhouse manager Zack Shickel.
But also a little uncertain about everything. Lewis wasn’t even sure what time his flight out of town was going to be Saturday morning.
The kid from Southern California impressed everyone around these parts with the way he played the game and the way he dealt with everything that goes with being last year’s No. 1-overall draft pick. Mature beyond his 19 years, Lewis was great with fans, great with media and seemed to be great with his teammates.
His first game with the Kernels after being promoted from Rookie ball last season included four hits. He hit .315 in 75 games this season, including 23 doubles, nine home runs, 53 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, playing through a minor bout of tendinitis in his knee.
Rumors of his promotion began already in May but didn’t come until Friday. Lewis went 1-for-4 in his final Kernels game.
“He has been playing great, swinging it as good as he has all year,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire.
Gardenhire was asked if he could tell if Lewis, who just turned 19 three weeks ago, was showing any wear.
“No more than anybody else. No more than usual,” he said. “It’s his first full season, so he’s going to be stressed and drained. But, to me, he’s less mentally frustrated or whatever you want to call it, than he was earlier in the year when he was struggling a little bit. He’s swinging it good, playing hard every night, starting to figure out how to go out there and play every single day and not let too much stuff get on his brain. Not let too many things worry him.”
Lewis was the first top-overall draft pick ever to play for Cedar Rapids.
A strong start from pitcher Blayne Enlow helped the Kernels win the rubber game of this three-game series. Enlow went six innings, allowing just three hits and an earned run to win for the first time in three decisions this season.
Melvi Acosta finished up for the save. Ben Rodriguez hit his seventh home run of the season.
Lake County comes to town for three games beginning Saturday night.
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