Who IS This Guy?
Young Texan Kohl Stewart (6’ 3, 195) is widely considered the top prep pitcher in the nation. Kohl Stewart is also, according to ESPN, the 6th best high-school quarterback in the nation and is committed to Texas A&M.
Stewart is equipped with a mid-90s fastball (an improvement over last summer) and a “nasty” slider. The mid-80s slider projects as – if it’s not already – a plus pitch. It’s a legitimate strikeout pitch. He’s shown flashes of being able to throw a low-80s curveball and throws an occasional change-up as well. Of course, he’s able to do all of this despite splitting his time between baseball and football. He stands to show improvement as he shifts his focus to strictly baseball.
A scouting director recently told Baseball America that "Stewart's pure stuff is as good as [Appel’s and Gray’s], and he's more athletic than they are." Scouts also believe that Stewart is more advanced than Jameson Taillon was at the same point in his career (when the Pirates actually claimed they preferred Taillon over Bryce Harper).
Though not as big, Stewart profiles similar to Archie Bradley, a Diamondbacks draft pick in 2011, who needed $5 million to be bought out of his football commitment to Oklahoma. (Bradley signed a two-sport contract, which can be paid over five years; Stewart could too, but the entire bonus would count against this year's draft pool.) The ironic part is, as a quarterback, the ESPN football scouting report mentions twice that Stewart’s arm is “not elite”.
It should also be mentioned that Stewart is a Type 1 diabetic. He is represented by Frontline Sports Management’s Darek Braunecker. Braunecker, a former MiLB pitcher, also represents Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and prospective 1st rounder Trey Ball.
You can follow him on twitter: @KohlStewart1.
Who Could He Be?
Stewart could be a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter. But the track record of right-handed prep pitchers is limited, so making this selection at number four is not without risk. Since 2000, only seven prep right-handers have gone in the top 5.
Dylan Bundy, Baltimore, 4th overall, 2011
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh, 2nd overall, 2010
Matt Hobgood, Baltimore, 5th overall, 2009
Mark Rogers, Milwaukee, 5th overall, 2004
Chris Gruler, Cincinnati, 3rd overall, 2002
Clint Everts, Montreal, 5th overall, 2002
Gavin Floyd, Philadelphia, 4th overall, 2001
Gavin Floyd has made 187 career major-league starts. The rest of that list has made a combined nine (all by Mark Rogers). Obviously, though, both Bundy (who’s currently been shut down to rest an ailing elbow) and Taillon (who’s pitching well in AA) are two of the highest-ranked pitching prospects in baseball.
So while there is risk, there is also the chance for a very, very high reward.
How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?
It would be unfair to compare any prep pitcher to Bundy, but Taillon and Bradley are much better comparisons. Unlike those two, though, Stewart would have the opportunity to get significant professional experience under his belt in 2013.
If the Twins drafted Stewart, he would likely start with the GCL Twins and finish his year in Elizabethton. Next season (2014) would likely start a little later, but be spent in Cedar Rapids. He would probably start in Fort Myers – and finish in New Britain – in 2015 before returning to New Britain in 2016 and be a candidate for a mid-season promotion.
Archie Bradley is currently dismantling AA and if he continues to, he could be in the majors this year. If Stewart was on that accelerated path, it would equate to being ready at some point in 2015.
I would rather err on the side of caution and say that being in the Opening Day rotation in 2017 is be a realistic goal, with his first major league experience coming in the summer of 2016.
If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up Because....
…they didn’t do their homework. If the Twins draft Kohl Stewart, they took the right guy. But, if the Twins fail to sign Kohl Stewart because of his commitment to college, they screwed it up. They would lose $4.5 million out of this year’s draft pool (but acquire pick #5 in the 2014 draft).
If the Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It Because….
…they got one of the three pitchers with the highest upside in the draft and, in all likelihood, had to shell out the smallest bonus to lock one of them up. Drafting fourth in what is widely considered to be a three-man draft isn’t ideal, but getting a pitcher with this upside – even with the risk – is like making lemonade out of lemons.
Just like any other pitcher the Twins may consider, drafting Stewart would be a welcome addition to the organization. Though he is a year or two further away from making a contribution than many fans would prefer, you can’t try to turn the baseball draft into band-aids. At the end of the day, you want to have as much talent in the organization as possible and adding a talent - albeit someone who is a little raw (due to time spent on another sport) and comes with a significant amount of risk – is a giant leap in the right direction.
Twins Daily MLB Draft Player Profiles:
· Monday, May 20-- Sean Manaea, SP
· Tuesday, May 21-- Austin Meadows, OF
· Wednesday, May 22-- Trey Ball, OF
· Thursday, May 23-- Ryan Stanek, RHP
· Friday, May 24-- Clint Frazier, OF
· Tuesday, May 28-- Reese McGuire, C
· Wednesday, May 29—Braden Shipley, RHP
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