Yesterday, Nick Burdi was profiled as our #10 Twins prospect. Today, we continue working through our Top 20 Minnesota Twins Prospects Rankings with our choice for the #9 prospect.
When the Twins used the fourth overall pick of the 2013 draft on Kohl Stewart, they were getting a tremendous athlete with a big arm. He was raw, a project with big potential. Now 21 and entering his third full season, Stewart is looking to turn some of his amazing tools into consistent skills. It’s a big year for the right-hander, but his upside remains high.
Age: 21 (DOB: 10/7/94)
2015 Stats (High-A): 129.1 IP, 7-8, 3.20 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 71/45 K/BB
2014 Ranking: 4; 2015 Ranking: 4
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR | MLB: NR | BP: NR
What's To Like
The Minnesota Twins used the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft on Texas prep pitcher Kohl Stewart. Of course, he was drafted for his potential, but he was very raw. As a senior in high school, he threw just 40 innings. Stewart, however, is a great athlete. He was one of the top quarterbacks in the country and had committed to Texas A&M. The Twins coaxed him to give up football with a signing bonus just north of $4.5 million.
At 6-3 and 210 pounds, Stewart is a great athlete with a big arm. He is blessed with a fastball that is capable of reaching 96 mph. He is known to have very good breaking pitches, both a curve ball and a slider. He also has a change-up that can be very good. Many scouts believe that each of these pitches have the potential to be plus pitches.
Though he hasn’t missed many bats the last couple of seasons, reports indicate the he does not give up much hard contact. He gets more than two groundouts for every fly out. He also gave up just two homers in 129.1 innings in 2015 and has given up just six homers in 236.1 professional innings.
What's Left To Work On
While Stewart has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation type of starter, there are definitely some things that needs to be monitored.
His first two seasons both ended with Stewart on the disabled list with shoulder issues. Though he spent three weeks on the DL in April, he remained healthy the remainder of the 2015 season making his starts every six days.
It’s hard to look at Kohl Stewart’s stat line without noticing a couple of numbers that are both going in the wrong direction. His strikeout rate has gone from 10.8 in rookie ball, to 6.4 in the Midwest League in 2014 to a minuscule 4.9 last year in Ft. Myers. Couple those decreasing strikeout totals with increasing walk rates. In his debut season, he walked just 1.8 per nine innings. That was followed with 2.5 per nine in Cedar Rapids and 3.1 per nine in Ft. Myers.
While we often note that his fastball can touch 96 mph at times, it is also fair to note that he was very inconsistent with his delivery. From start-to-start and often even inning-to-inning, his mechanics could get out of whack enough that many times he would sit 89 to 91 with the fastball and other times it would be 94 to 96.
While Stewart posted a nice ERA in Ft. Myers, his increasing walk rate and decreasing strikeout totals make it likely that spending another half-season in the Florida State League would be beneficial. It could provide an opportunity to work on things (especially more consistent mechanics) he learned last year and in the offseason at a level he’s already had some success in.
It is very possible that Stewart will end the season in Chattanooga. Considering that he does not need to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2017 season and then would have three option years, the Twins can afford to be very patient with Stewart’s development. If that means that he sticks in Ft. Myers the entire season, that is what needs to be done.
Be sure to check back tomorrow when we unveil our choice for Twins Prospect #8.