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June 6, 2013
Dissecting the Draft: Kohl Stewart (Player Report)
Kohl Stewart | RHP | St. Pius X (Houston, TX)
Stewart in 140 characters or less:
FB/SL potential ++; 4 pitch mix; good athlete/body control; pro build; some durability concerns; some clean-up, but solid mech. foundation.
Solid, physical build with good athleticism; everything you look for in a pro pitcher body; some durability questions due to push-back and missed starts this spring and some abuse from football; moves well off mound.
Stewart utilizes an extremely quick arm to help generate plus velocity, and should be able to add a little more as he learns to derive more of his power from his strong legs and core. He comes from a true three-quarters slot and creates solid angle on his offerings, matching his arm slot with both his fastball and slider, helping the two potential future plus-plus offerings to marry well when sequenced. He hits his checkpoints throughout his mechanics, and the foundation is there for him to develop into an above-average command guy off the strength of his mechanical foundation and requisite athleticism to tinker with his motion under pro instruction. Stewart can add some length to his stride and a little more fluidity in his upper- and lower-body interplay, which will allow more more consistent execution and placement of his pitches.
Fastball – A potential future plus-plus offering that plays closer to a tick above average right now. Capable of reaching the mid-90s with regularity, Stewart should continue to add velocity as he learns to better incorporate his power legs and core in his delivery, and with added attention to the finer points of his mechanics he should grow into plus command of the offering. He creates solid angles with the pitch, and while his velocity will fluctuate some from start to start, and inning to inning, his athleticism, big body, quick arm, and generally clean arm action should all help him to more consistently reach his big velocity in the future.
Slider – Stewart's slider is arguably his best offering, both now and projected, with mid-80s velocity, hard and heavy bite with late action and tilt. It matches up well with his fastball trajectory and has been very difficult for hitters to pick-up out of his hand. His command of the pitch is still spotty, but he shows a feel for utilizing the offering as a chase pitch when ahead in the count, and he is not afraid to go to it in a wide variety of situations.
Curveball – As Stewart continues to log innings on the mound, his curve continues to grow as a pitch. Currently it's a below average offering that will flash average or better, and it looks like a future 50 or 55 down the line. It lacks the hard heavy bite of his slider, but shows distinct shape and adds a north-south dimension to his arsenal, which should benefit him in a couple of years when he is tackling more advanced pro bats.
Changeup – Stewart shows comfort with his changeup, despite the pitch still very much toiling in its rudimentary stages. He will slow his arm at times, tipping the pitch, while other times he'll deliver with a little too much firmness, leaving him short of a desired 8-12 mph velocity delta. As is the case with his curveball, he shows enough "now" feel for the pitch that it projects to an average or better offering once he puts in the work at the pro ranks.
Stewart's raw stuff, combined with the room for growth in that stuff, might make him the highest upside arm in the entire draft. He checks all the boxes for a future potential #1, including a big body, four-pitch mix, two potential plus-plus offerings, good athleticism, and repeatable mechanic that should improve as he continues to refine. Stewart had some starts pushed back and shortened this spring due to soreness and tenderness, creating some concern as to how his body will hold-up over the long haul of a pro season, but proponents view these setbacks as side effects from his football season that should not be long term issues once he is focused on baseball. Stewart has the opportunity to play on scholarship as a quarterback on the Texas A&M football team, as well as the Aggies baseball team, should he decide to forgo the start of his pro career, so there are the usual questions as to how much money it will take to buy him out of that commitment. Provided he comes off the board in the first half of the first round, however, his drafting organization should have a good chance of convincing him to take the money and get started on the bump.
Projected position: Front-end to mid-rotation starter; raw ingredients for a future #1
Suggested draft slot: Early-1st Round; top ten overall consideration