• Twins MLB Draft Profile: Kohl Stewart, RHP

    This profile was written about Kohl Stewart a week prior to the draft.

    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.


    www.perfectgame.org

    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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    This article was originally published in blog: Twins MLB Draft Profile: Kohl Stewart, RHP started by Jeremy Nygaard
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Watching the Cardinals and Orioles starting pitchers from the 2012 draft...... you have to wonder if the Twins really want pitching help.
    1. Carneal&Gordon's Avatar
      Carneal&Gordon -
      I'm trying to get a read on who Jeremy "wants" the Twins to pick as a fan. He was the first to predict Stewart to the Twins so that may be an indication. I'm starting to convince myself to be pleased when they take McGuire at 4 and hopefully get a high value player in the 2nd round.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      Honest question, why should it be noted that he is diabetic?
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      Honest question, why should it be noted that he is diabetic?
      When you're potentially giving someone millions of dollars, health issues should be mentioned. His adjustment to minor-league ball could be more difficult. It sounds as though the Twins have no concerns, but I'm not sure that would be the case with every team.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Diabetes isn't that big a deal as long as it's under control and Stewart is sticking with his diet/medical plan. He can function pretty normally in that case. It's an issue if he doesn't take his meds or watch what he eats (then again, in professional sports, this is an issue whether he's diabetic or not)... There's some risk there, if the Twins are going to plunk 4M on him, but that's also something that some decent research will uncover.
    1. Eric in Madison's Avatar
      Eric in Madison -
      If the Twins draft him, it will be knowing what it will take to sign him. I'm not worried about that aspect.

      I dislike the idea of HS pitchers this high in the draft. The risk is so crazy high that, in my view, it outweighs any potential rewards.

      However...I can't say I'm thrilled about the alternatives. I guess one of the college pitchers. I'll be surprised if they make an under slot deal with a lesser talent in order to pay more later in the draft, because they don't have another pick until 43. It would be easier to see if you could transfer unspent draft money to international free agents, but you can't.

      Thanks for all the work on this, Jeremy. They've been fun to read.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Is there supposed to be a blue background on this article? Almost unreadable with black font.

      Who is he? Future #1 starter for the MN Twins, that's who.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Eric in Madison View Post

      However...I can't say I'm thrilled about the alternatives. I guess one of the college pitchers. I'll be surprised if they make an under slot deal with a lesser talent in order to pay more later in the draft, because they don't have another pick until 43. It would be easier to see if you could transfer unspent draft money to international free agents, but you can't.

      Thanks for all the work on this, Jeremy. They've been fun to read.
      This is pretty much how I feel. I might come around to Shipley, a Zimmer like guy who might be a #2 but I really don't want a non-pitcher. Big hope would be that the Astros take Moran and let one of the big 3 fall to us but if that doesn't happen, Stewert isn't a bad consolation prize.
    1. markos's Avatar
      markos -
      Two comments relating to the risks of high-school pitchers, but long story short, I don't think drafting the best high school pitcher is any more risky than drafting a college pitcher.

      First, if you look at the list of right-handed college pitchers selected in the top-5 in the same timeframe, the results aren't that much better:

      Mark Prior, Cubs, 2nd, 2001
      Dewon Brazelton, TB, 3rd, 2001
      Bryan Bullington, Pittsburgh, 1st, 2002
      Kyle Sleeth, Detroit, 3rd, 2003
      Tim Stauffer, SD, 4th, 2003
      Justin Verlander, Detroit, 2nd, 2004
      Philip Humber, NYM, 3rd, 2004
      Jeff Niemann, TB, 4th, 2004
      Luke Hochevar, KC, 1st, 2006
      Greg Reynolds, Col, 2nd, 2006
      Brad Lincoln, Pit, 4th, 2006
      Brandon Morrow, Sea, 5th, 2006
      Stephen Strasburg, Was, 1st, 2009
      Gerrit Cole, Pit, 1st, 2011
      Trevor Bauer, Arz, 3rd, 2011
      Kevin Gausman, Bal, 4th, 2012
      Kyle Zimmer, KC, 5th, 2012

      The second point is that if one looks at the high school pitchers drafted in the top-10 (not just top-5), there are a lot of good names.

      Colt Griffin, KC, 9th, 2001
      Zach Grienke, KC, 6th, 2002
      John Danks, Tex, 9th, 2003
      Homer Bailey, Cin, 7th, 2004
      Clayton Kershaw, LAD, 7th, 2006
      Jarrod Parker, Arz, 9th, 2007
      Madison Bumgarner, SF, 10th, 2007
      Zach Wheeler, SF, 6th, 2009
      Jacob Turner, Det, 9th, 2009
      Karsten Whitson, SD, 9th, 2010
      Archie Bradley, Arz, 7th, 2011
      Max Fried, SD, 7th, 2012

      Analyzing the results of players based on their draft position is error prone on several levels, and one of the more important reasons is that the signability rather than the talent of a player often impacts their draft position, particularly prior to the current CBA. So it isn't always a fair assertion to say that the first high school pitcher drafted in a given year was actual the best high school pitcher. When comparing the drafting Stewart to previous drafts, it is important to look at how the consensus best high school pitcher performed, rather than those that were drafted highest. I would like to research this question a little further, but I don't have the time right now.

      Taking both lists together, I don't see any clear-cut evidence that high school pitchers are a riskier commodity than college pitchers. All pitchers have a lot of risk, so I don't think it makes any sense to skip on Stewart and instead draft a second-tier college pitcher like Shipley just to avoid risk.
    1. InfraRen's Avatar
      InfraRen -
      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.
      THIS. When you're drafting this high, the bust rate is always going to be high, HS pitcher/hitter, college pitcher/hitter. You NEVER know. So you pick the guy with the highest potential and hope for the best. That's Kohl Stewart.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      markos, thanks for a very informative post!
    1. Rick Niedermann's Avatar
      Rick Niedermann -
      Don't like the videos on Stewert. Lacks control. All over the place. I hope the Astros take the 3B from N Carolina and one of the big 3 drop to us. If not, Shipley or Stanke, maybe Manea appeal more to me then Stewert.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Manaea? he won't even be a first round pick now.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      Honest question, why should it be noted that he is diabetic?
      It's not really a big deal if it is controlled well. However, as a diabetic myself, I can attest that it also carries a higher risk of injuries to things such as the shoulder. I have a bad wing right now and my doctor mentioned the issue I have is quite common for diabetics. Has to do with blood circulation to soft tissue/muscles.
    1. InfraRen's Avatar
      InfraRen -
      Perfect Game just posted their top 50 Draft Prospect Scouting Report, first 5 are free. Stewart:

      5. KOHL STEWART, rhp, St. Pius X HS, Tomball (Texas)
      Stewart came into the spring with as many questions dogging him as any top prospect in the country but has stepped up and answered all of them emphatically. The first and most important question was the health of his right shoulder, which was injured in a football game in November. Not only did Stewart come back healthy, he came back better, with his fastball velocity consistently in the mid-90s, complemented by a newly developed curveball that immediately rivaled his already potential plus slider for quality. With his name now being mentioned frequently and almost exclusively among the top 10 picks, the questions about Stewart taking advantage of his football opportunities at Texas A&M have also become less frequent, although they are sure to play a leverage role in his draft negotiations. For more on the hard throwing Texas right hander, read his Perfect Game Draft Focus Profile here.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Just to add a bit of backing to Markos' excellent post, Matt Garrioch did a study of drafts from '87-'01 and the success rate of all players in all rounds. He found that there was almost no difference between the success rate of high school pitchers and college pitchers drafted in the first round. IIRC high school pitchers actually had a ~1% better chance to become average or better pitchers.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Jeremy's list of recent HS righties drafted 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

      Markos' list of recent HS righties drafted 6-10

      Quote Originally Posted by markos View Post
      Colt Griffin, KC, 9th, 2001
      Zach Grienke, KC, 6th, 2002
      John Danks, Tex, 9th, 2003
      Homer Bailey, Cin, 7th, 2004
      Clayton Kershaw, LAD, 7th, 2006
      Jarrod Parker, Arz, 9th, 2007
      Madison Bumgarner, SF, 10th, 2007
      Zach Wheeler, SF, 6th, 2009
      Jacob Turner, Det, 9th, 2009
      Karsten Whitson, SD, 9th, 2010
      Archie Bradley, Arz, 7th, 2011
      Max Fried, SD, 7th, 2012
      Strange that the guys picked 6-10 are better than the guys picked top five. Perhaps this just indicates that teams have been more cautious than needed with HS pitchers. Many of the guys picked 6-10 would have been well worth a top 5 pick.
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Even if he became the twins best pitcher ever I couldn't cheer for this kid. Hope the Twins look elsewhere.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Jeremy's list of recent HS righties drafted 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

      Markos' list of recent HS righties drafted 6-10



      Strange that the guys picked 6-10 are better than the guys picked top five. Perhaps this just indicates that teams have been more cautious than needed with HS pitchers. Many of the guys picked 6-10 would have been well worth a top 5 pick.
      Many of those guys drafted 6-10 were the first HS pitchers off the board though. Grienke was the third HS arm off the board in 2002, Homer Bailey has been meh and was the second HS arm picked in 2004 and Zach Wheeler was the second HS arm of 2009. So at this point only Grienke really stands out as being drafted later than he should have been. Zach Wheeler certainly could be added to that list by next season. All in all though the order in which the HS arms have been drafted seems to have been pretty good. At least with respect to those 2 lists.

      Rereading your post you clearly are just saying you thing more HS arms should have gone top 5 which I agree with.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Very interesting stuff showing that the college pitchers are just as risky long-term than the high schoolers. Maybe their floor is higher, but the risk is still there.
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