It didn’t take long for Mercer University‘s most decorated student-athlete to get noticed by the pros.
In 2016, Mercer baseball standout Kyle Lewis won the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country. Shortly after that, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners as the 11th overall pick in the MLB Draft, making him the highest drafted player in Mercer and Southern Conference history.
The 25-year-old made his MLB debut in 2019, when he became only the second player in MLB history to hit home runs in each of his first three career games.
His impressive debut in 18 games as a September call-up carried over into an outstanding rookie campaign. By the end of this year’s 60-game regular season, Lewis posted a .262 batting average and led the Mariners with 54 hits, 11 home runs and 34 walks.
On Nov. 9, he received Major League Baseball’s American League 2020 Rookie of the Year award, making him the first Bear to win this honor. He’s also the fourth Georgia-born player to win this award, a list that includes Jackie Robinson. He received all 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He is the 12th unanimous winner of the AL award, joining a prestigious list that includes Carlton Fisk, Derek Jeter, Mike Trout and Aaron Judge.
During his final year at Mercer, Lewis led the Bears to a second-consecutive Southern Conference regular season title and a seventh straight season with at least 35 wins. He was recognized as a consensus All-America first team selection, Baseball America National Player of the Year, American Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year and Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist. He also was Southern Conference Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons.
“Kyle is an outstanding baseball player and even better person,” Mercer Baseball head coach Craig Gibson said. “He is a great representative of Mercer, and I am glad to see him having success in the MLB.
“He is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.”