In the history of the MLB Draft, no right-handed prep pitcher has been chosen with the first overall pick. The player to change that narrative is Carter Stewart, the best high school pitcher in the draft.
Carter Stewart 2018 MLB Draft Profile
Stewart is a right-handed pitcher from Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Florida. The 18-year old stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 200 pounds. Stewart impressed as a junior, pitching to an 11-2 record with a 0.81 ERA and 104 strikeouts against 21 walks in 69.1 innings pitched. He then caught the attention of major league scouts during his strong summer showcase in 2017. Stewart solidified his ascension to the top of draft boards as a senior in 2018, posting a 6-4 record with a 0.91 ERA, tossing an incredible 128 strikeouts with just 18 walks across 61.2 innings pitched.
He is one of several high-school pitchers that will have the opportunity to be drafted in the first round. At the same time—unlike his prep compatriots—Stewart has the potential to be the number one overall pick in the draft.
Stewart has two true elite pitches in his arsenal. His curveball grades as the best in the draft class, even as a high school pitcher. Nothing but praise has come his way about his curveball, which routinely registers over 3,000 revolutions per minute. For comparison, no major league pitcher averages 3,000 revolutions per minute on any breaking pitch since Statcast has started tracking spin rate.
Along with the impressive curveball, Stewart throws a fastball that has drastically increased velocity over the course of the season. Stewart’s fastball clocked in the high-80s at this time last season. Now, he consistently throws in the mid-90s with the ability to touch 98. Furthermore, once he develops his frame, Stewart could add even more velocity to his fastball.
He rounds his repertoire with a change-up. There’s nothing impressive about it to compare it to the elite pitches. Yet, he seldom throws the pitch due to high school hitters failing to make contact on his other two pitches.
Scouts have raised concerns about his mechanics, most notably the arm action in his delivery. Due to the increased velocity of his fastball, his mechanics are labeled aggressive. MLB Pipeline’s profile on him spoke about “mild concern” regarding Stewart’s “deep arm action in the back” of his delivery.
The true weakness for Stewart—as with every high school arm—is his age. High school arms in the first round of the draft are high risk, high reward. If teams just drafted on talent and skill, Stewart would be a viable option for the number one overall pick. However, prep pitchers are difficult to project. That could result in Stewart falling to the middle of the first round, despite his talent. Either way, Stewart is unlike most high-school pitchers that come through the draft.
MLB Player Comparison
Stewart compares favorably to Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello. Porcello has made of living with his devastating curveball since he was drafted in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers. Maybe memories of Porcello’s success as a Tiger will allow Detroit to make Stewart the first of his kind: the first right-handed prep pitcher taken with the first overall pick.
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