What's Next For Kohl Stewart?
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The Twins took Stewart with the fourth pick of the 2013 MLB Draft and signed him for $4.5 million. He had the chance to play quarterback on a Division I scholarship but he turned it down to pitch professionally. Even the major prospect gurus took notice of Stewart and his high ceiling. All three major prospect rankings had him as a top-55 prospect before the 2014 season. Leading into 2015, MLB had him at 36 and Baseball Prospectus had him at 28. Things were looking good for the young Texas hurler.
Roller Coaster Ride
Stewart spent all of 2015 in Fort Myers where he was almost three years younger than the competition. He didn’t take the next step like most people had hoped. He allowed multiple runs in 16 of his 22 appearances and compiled a 3.20 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. Prospect writers had hoped Stewart would start striking out more batters. He only struck out 71 in 129.1 innings.
The 2016 season saw some minor improvements for Stewart. His ERA dropped to 2.61 during a return trip through the Florida State League. After he was bumped up to Double-A, his ERA rose to 3.03 but he posted a 1.47 WHIP. His strikeouts per nine improved from 4.9 to 5.7 but it still wasn’t nearly what experts had hoped he would be able to reach.
Stewart has missed time throughout his career with minor shoulder issues. Since he split time as an amateur between football and baseball, he needed to spend time learning how to pitch. Any time he was missing due to injury was taking away from learning the art of pitching.
During the 2017 season, Stewart spent almost the entire season at Double-A. As a 22-year old, he struggled to the tune of a 4.09 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. His strikeouts per nine went up to 6.3 but his walks per nine also rose to 5.0. All of his appearances came as a starter but he was limited to 17 starts, the fewest since he started pitching in full-season leagues. He missed almost two months due to tendinitis in a knee.
Overall, he has shown the ability to coax a lot of ground balls. His strikeout promise from when the Twins drafted him has never come to fruition. He also continues to be very young for the levels where he has pitched. Stewart was the youngest player to make an appearance with Rochester this season. However, the strikeout numbers many thought he would grow into have never shown up. A team could take him in the Rule 5 Draft and try and hide him in their bullpen for the entire season. If he remains in the organization, even the Twins might decide to move him to the bullpen.
A once promising future has gotten a little cloudy over the last couple of seasons. What do you think should be expected of Stewart? Will a team take him in the Rule 5 Draft? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.