A native of Palos Heights, Illinois, Zach Lewis was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 33rd round of the 2014 MLB Draft; he did not sign, opting to return to Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Illinois for his sophomore year. Lewis then made his way to Wichita State University for the final two years of college, where he threw 156 innings over 38 games (26 starts) for the Shockers across 2016 and 2017. Despite decent college work, Zach Lewis was not drafted after his final spring at Wichita State; it was only after the Chicago White Sox signed him as an undrafted free agent on June 25, 2017 that he finally joined the pro ranks despite four sustained years of solid production across his JuCo and college career.
But once with the Chicago White Sox, Lewis didn’t waste much time making an impression. Over 12 games (eight starts) in the Arizona League with the AZL White Sox this summer, Lewis was 6-1 with a 2.72 ERA, and he allowed just 46 hits and 11 walks against 45 strikeouts over 53.0 innings pitched. A classic workhorse overachiever with a gritty nature that overcomes middling stuff, Zach Lewis may mildly surprise the Chicago White Sox over the next few years. Below, we’ve got a full scouting report, game video, tool grades, and more on the 22-year-old (DOB: May 24, 1995) pitching prospect.
Zach Lewis, Chicago White Sox — 2017 Scouting Report
Dates observed in 2017: August 10
Zach Lewis Scouting Report — 2017 Game Video
Zach Lewis Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis
A bulldog-type pitcher who will have to grind it out after going the UDFA route, there’s a lot to like about Zach Lewis in the coming years. I think he’ll quickly start to realize the importance of throwing his two-seamer and changeup more often, learning how to pair them off teach other and becoming a pitch-to-contact sinker ball guy instead of trying to spot up his pedestrian four-seamer. Because of his arm angle and release point he doesn’t have the stereotypical overhand 12-to-6 curveball, but his breaking ball is sneaky good and he can drop it in on both sides of the plate. He’ll learn how to consistently make sure it stays 11-to-5 and doesn’t flatten out, but even now it has legitimate swing-and-miss potential—especially when sequenced well. Take all that together and add his four years of polish from college, and Zach Lewis may prove himself to be a good find in the undrafted ranks. Yes, the Chicago White Sox need to test him against more age-appropriate competition, but 2017 represented a very strong introduction to professional baseball for the righty and he might sneak through the minor leagues as something more than organizational depth over the next few seasons. He fills up the zone and isn’t afraid to attack hitters and pitch to contact; as he continues to learn the nuances of his arsenal, that contact should become weaker and primarily on the ground.
Zach Lewis Scouting Report — Future Projection
Expect Zach Lewis to get a shot at the starting rotation in Low-A Kannapolis for 2018; he’ll be 23 years old in May, and ideally will prove himself in Low-A over the first half of next year to get a shot in High-A for the second half and jump on track for his age. There’s a long way to go from here to there, but Lewis must move quickly through the low minors if he’s going to put himself on the radar for the Chicago White Sox. Especially with his college pedigree, you’d hope he has enough to succeed in the South Atlantic League and work his way up the ladder over the next 12 months.
Long term, all realistic signs point to a future low-leverage long reliever in the very back end of a big league bullpen. However, there’s something about his track record and command profile that tells me he’ll overachieve and stay in the conversation for a rotation gig at least longer than a player in his position otherwise normally would. At the ultimate level, that could manifest itself as a swingman/spot starter at times with primarily middle relief in his future. Regardless, at his age, 2018 itself will set the tone for the righty: a strong year with Lewis’ profile leaves the door open for a fringy prospect future; a pedestrian summer at 23 years old in Low-A will quickly brand him organizational depth. For whatever reason, I’m optimistic about Zach Lewis. In a few months, we’ll see whether that optimism is warranted.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Low-leverage long relief role with length; may have the chops to overachieve and be a swingman/spot starter (40/42.5)
MLB ETA: 2021
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