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What's Next For Kohl Stewart?

Pitching was the theme of players added to the Twins 40-man roster earlier this week. Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell and Lewis Thorpe were all added as the new front office looks to lock in young pitching. Even with a focus on pitching, one name was left off the list.

Former first-round pick Kohl Stewart was not added to the team’s 40-man roster. This means he will be available in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. It’s been a tumultuous Twins tenure for Stewart and now his future is in doubt. So, what’s next for Kohl Stewart?
Image courtesy of Kelly McGlohon-27OUTSBASEBALL.COM
Background
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.

What’s Next?
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.


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47 Comments

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AlwaysinModeration
Nov 21 2017 09:39 PM
Likely back at Chattanooga for another season, possibly up to Rochester.

Maybe he gets taken, but I doubt it.
    • 70charger, DocBauer and Vanimal46 like this
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Deduno Abides
Nov 21 2017 09:42 PM
I expect him to be taken, because of the raw talent. However, he would have to be a bullpen arm, and the lack of Ks and a tendency to walk people will probably make it unlikely that he’ll stick,
    • 70charger, DocBauer, howieramone2 and 1 other like this

He'll start either in AA for us or in another teams bullpen. How he does from there is up to him. I hope he can put it all together.

    • 70charger, SwainZag and MN_ExPat like this

I guess the one thing that stuck with me that I learned on this board is that pitchers with his profile don't translate well to MLB.A few guys have made careers as starters not striking out many guys but the list is very short.

 

The other thing that stands out is he seems to have stagnated in his development.he doesn't seem to be changing his approach much and or grown as a pitcher.The way I see it he needed to be better than Slegers, Enns, Thorpe or Jorge to make the cut.The Twins don't see him as better than any of those guys so he is exposed to the rule V.  

 

I personally think he has a chance to turn things around as a reliever but given the dearth of relievers the Twins have it probably didn't make sense to take a chance on Stewart.  

 

In the end it comes down to competition and projection.He came up short so he is where he is.I hope he gets another season with Twins as I still think despite all evidence to the contrary that he can be a dominant relief pitcher but I do have a tendency to over value the players I have watched and read about and hoped would help the team.

    • Mike Frasier Law, brvama and CUtomorrownight like this
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Deduno Abides
Nov 21 2017 10:10 PM
One more thought: if he’s not selected, he could question his whole baseball career and reconsider playing college football.
    • Broker and Dakota Diver like this

One more thought: if he’s not selected, he could question his whole baseball career and reconsider playing college football.


I was just going to say, it looks like the gophers are suddenly in the market for a qb!
    • Deduno Abides, Vanimal46 and Broker like this

Football may be an option for him still. It really could be. 

 

But, if not, he can't be a free agent until after the 2020 season... he's too talented to let go, so just keep working. Keep developing. Maybe the new regime's pitcher development plan can bring it out of him. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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nicksaviking
Nov 21 2017 10:46 PM
Kyle Gibson wasn't getting results because he was pitching like a sinkerball pitcher, however upon his recall in the second half this year he was a pitcher who just so happened to be able to throw a sinker but was missing bats and getting outs with his superior breaking pitches.

I would think that if the Twins thought that success was repeatable with Stewart that they would have protected him. So I wonder if at this time they feel he is either incapable or unwilling. To me Stewart looks like one of those top prospects who's going to need to experience a strong dose of failure and a willingness to make changes if he has a shot at reaching his potential; that might not be in the cards as long as he stays with the same team.
I would take him in an instant if I was a bad team. Put him in the bullpen and see what his stuff looks like.
    • Steve Lein, gunnarthor, clutterheart and 6 others like this

 

Football may be an option for him still. It really could be. 

 

But, if not, he can't be a free agent until after the 2020 season... he's too talented to let go, so just keep working. Keep developing. Maybe the new regime's pitcher development plan can bring it out of him. 

 

If Brandon Weeden tells us anything, you're probably right. But if Brandon Weeden tells us anything, he's probably best grinding it out in baseball for another year or two. He's got the pedigree. The Twins would love nothing more than Stewart making the the MLB. Even - especially - the new front office.

 

But if it won't happen, it won't happen. Take a big step forward in 2018, Kohl Stewart, and you're on the 25 man in a cinch. This year, I'm not sure you're sticking with any team.

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FargoFanMan
Nov 22 2017 12:06 AM
He seems to have tremendous movement on his fastball and I think the old twins system in the minors does not mesh well with these young fire ballers. Hence the lack of strong pitcher development and the turnover this year from Falvine as far as the “system.” I also believe he still has not learned to pitch. Have always liked him and it seems he has the stuff. He just doesn’t know how to use it yet. I blame the system. He’s not the only one which seems to speak system rather than the player

 

I would take him in an instant if I was a bad team. Put him in the bullpen and see what his stuff looks like.

 

I completely agree... 

This could happen, a couple of really bad clubs could draft him and stash him for a year (Detroit and Cincinnati) come to mind.

Imagine teams would look at his draft position and his overall talent and take a chance on him. 

 

Bummer. But I don't argue with the Twins' decision to not protect him. 

    • nicksaviking likes this

He can't get anybody out in AA that's not good.This pick and the Tyler Jay pick sting A LOT.  



Bummer. But I don't argue with the Twins' decision to not protect him.


It's all depends on what they do with the final roster spot. They lost 3 players clearing roster spots and if they lose a couple player in the draft, they better pick up some valuable players.

There was news about another highly drafted Texas hurler this week - Marc Appel drafted number one was dropped by the Phillies.Sometimes the talent just does not translate to the big leagues.Stewart is so far down the pecking list he would not stand a chance here and we still rate low with starters.For the Bullpen they want Ks and he does not get them.

​If he hangs on I see him as a Jaimie Garcia type who is always available and always expendable.

 

It's all depends on what they do with the final roster spot. They lost 3 players clearing roster spots and if they lose a couple player in the draft, they better pick up some valuable players.

 

Pretty sure that goes without saying. 

 

He can't get anybody out in AA that's not good.This pick and the Tyler Jay pick sting A LOT.  

 

Jay stings a lot more in my mind. The 2013 first round was really a terrible draft, even if they nailed that pick (with what was left after Bryant and Gray), it's not even clear they would have gotten a clear starting caliber player.

 

A lot more talent in the 2015 draft, including two really good college bats taken in the 3 picks right after Jay.

    • dgwills and Vanimal46 like this

 

Jay stings a lot more in my mind. The 2013 first round was really a terrible draft, even if they nailed that pick (with what was left after Bryant and Gray), it's not even clear they would have gotten a clear starting caliber player.

 

A lot more talent in the 2015 draft, including two really good college bats taken in the 3 picks right after Jay.

 

I agree.They were trying to ram a square peg into a round hole saying they were going to convert him back into a starter.Should have gone with a college bat here.Still disappointed though that the Twins gave up on him so quickly as a starter.

 

He can't get anybody out in AA that's not good.This pick and the Tyler Jay pick sting A LOT.  

Actually, he's gotten quite a few guys out in AA. In 32 starts at age 21 and 22 he's gone 14-12 with a 3.51 era in 169 ip. But 89 walks against 99 strike outs and 19 wild pitches so control is a big problem. 

 

I would have protected him since he's only 22 and made a spot start in AAA already. We'll see what happens.

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Winston Smith
Nov 22 2017 09:12 AM

Can he row a boat?

    • Taildragger8791 and Vanimal46 like this

 

Actually, he's gotten quite a few guys out in AA. In 32 starts at age 21 and 22 he's gone 14-12 with a 3.51 era in 169 ip. But 89 walks against 99 strike outs and 19 wild pitches so control is a big problem. 

 

I would have protected him since he's only 22 and made a spot start in AAA already. We'll see what happens.

 

I probably would have protected Reed, Stewart and Jay for one more year.

 

I agree.They were trying to ram a square peg into a round hole saying they were going to convert him back into a starter.Should have gone with a college bat here.Still disappointed though that the Twins gave up on him so quickly as a starter.

 

The whole Jay process was a fiasco on multiple levels. They will redeem the situation a little if he can stay healthy and turn into a good bullpen piece. But that is two big "ifs" that need to be cleared.

 

Stewart's result comes with the risk of trying to go really big on a high school arm. (And more proof that taking a pitcher in the first 10 picks is almost always a bad decision).

i would have protected atleast 2 mire players. and i feel justified to question the front office for that too.
we can debate who, but we still have the opportunity to trade these guys too.

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