Minnesota Twins Top 20 Prospects: #8 Kohl Stewart
Puckett’s Pond presents our Top 20 Minnesota Twins prospects. At #8 is Kohl Stewart
Honorable Mentions #20: Travis Blankenhorn
#19: Wander Javier #18: Stuart Turner #17: Jermaine Palacios
#16: Mason Melotakis #15: Jake Reed #14: Taylor Rogers
#13: Lewis Thrope #12: J.T. Chargois #11: Adam Brett Walker
#10: Alex Meyer #9: Nick Burdi
Kohl Stewart is a fascinating prospect. He was drafted fourth overall by the Twins in the first round of the 2013 draft. The now 21 year old was originally committed to slotting in as Johnny Manziel’s backup at Texas A&M, but his excellent draft position and a slot bonus of over $4million convinced him to turn pro. High school pitchers are always profoundly risky picks, but Stewart has shown signs that he can become an excellent big league pitcher.
Name: Kohl Stewart
Position: SP Age: 21
Height: 6’3 Weight: 195 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 4th Overall Pick 2013 Draft
Stewart has now put together a 2.82 ERA in 236 minor league innings, in that same span he has consistently decreased his strikeout rate (down to 4.9/9 at Fort Myers in 2015) and increased his walk rate (up to 3.1/9 last season). While these may seem like extremely worrying trends, Stewart has been a ground ball machine, inducing a 60% ground ball rate in 2015. If Stewart can begin to increase his strike out and decrease his walks, he owns a potentially formidable combination.
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Stewart is renowned for shunning and shying away from the spotlight, but is also a notoriously hard worker. He has not completely abandoned football roots, grounding his off-season regimen in throwing a football instead of a baseball. His rationale is that throwing a heavier ball will increase the strength of his arm long term. While other Twins prospects such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Max Kepler made their major league debuts in 2015, Stewart is in no rush. ‘In my opinion, every guy has to prove they belong their (the big leagues)’ opined Stewart. With a mindset grounded in gradual but steady improvements, Stewart may be anchoring an exciting Twins rotation with fellow prospect Jose Berrios in the next few years.
Stewart boasts four pitches. He has a four seam fastball which touches 96 mph, a plus slider, an average curveball, and an emerging changeup that needs significant work if Stewart is going to make it at the next level. Critics have bashed a lack of life on his fastball, but Stewart gave up just 0.1 HR/9 in 2015. Stewart will likely start 2016 at AA Chattanooga, which continues to be saturated with high caliber talent.
If he can continue to make strides, expect to see him in a Minnesota Twins uniform by mid to late 2017. Whether or not he develops into a high strikeout pitcher, Stewart has the upside of an MLB number two starter, and at worst a reliable and durable mid-rotation arm whose athleticism should allow him to consistently put together 200 inning seasons.