By Kyle Schmidt, Indiana Wesleyan, Sports Information Director
MARION, Ind. -- Indiana Wesleyan University starting pitcher Sam Lewis has signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals.
"Sam has worked really hard at it," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Chad Newhard. "He has definitely developed his game over the last three years here and he has improved every year. He had aspirations and goals of playing at the next level and was able to accomplish that. Now his goal is to continue to move up and someday possibly get a shot to play in the big leagues."
Lewis becomes the fifth Wildcat to sign a professional baseball contract and the fourth in the past five years.
"It's great for our program having four players sign with major league organizations over the past five years," added Newhard. "It shows that players are developing during their time at Indiana Wesleyan and continuing to get better. It definitely validates what we are doing here. When our recruits see that when they come here we have a very recent track record of sending guys to the professional level, including one guy that's reached the big leagues."
Lewis is now a member of a select Indiana Wesleyan list that includes Charlie Arrendale (1970), Brandon Moore (2008), Brandon Beachy (2008), and Josh Worrell (2009) as players who have signed to play professionally. Beachy has pitched in three different seasons with the Atlanta Braves and is on the DL for the rest of the year after leading the league with a 2.00 ERA.
The big right hander improved his stock this summer playing for the West Virginia Miners in the Prospect League, a summer collegiate wood bat league. Lewis was 8-1 on the season in 11 starts with a 2.70 ERA, which was good for fourth in the league. He allowed just 38 hits in 70 innings and pitched two no-hitters during the season. He then pitched the opening game in the Prospect League championship series where he struck out 18 batters in a 4-2 victory. West Virginia won the league title in a three game sweep over Dubois County.
"I think the Royals are really excited about what they got with Sam," said Newhard. "They feel like they got a guy who can project out into a guy who someday could play in the big leagues. Sam's stock has risen dramatically over the last year. He threw really well in a workout last fall in front of 15-20 scouts and was then followed this year at Indiana Wesleyan by several major league teams. Then he had a tremendous summer with the West Virginia Miners in the Prospect League, which includes two no-hitters and a one-hit, 10 strikeout performance. He just continued to improve this summer and I had some people tell me he was the best pitcher in the Prospect League."
Lewis is a 6-4 right handed pitcher from Elmira, New York and completed his junior season at Indiana Wesleyan in 2011-12. In 38 appearances, 27 starts, Lewis owns a career 5.95 ERA with an 11-11 record over 160 innings pitched. He had his best season this spring with a 3.81 ERA and a 4-2 record. Lewis allowed just 49 hits over 59 innings while striking out 63 batters.
"I am very excited for Sam," continued Newhard. "This is a tremendous opportunity for him and big for our program to have another guy enter the professional ranks and be signed by a major league club."
Lewis will now report to the Kansas City Rookie League Affiliate, the Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League.