When the Minnesota Twins drafted Kohl Stewart with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, high expectations were placed upon the high-school phenom from Texas; so far, the youngster has lived up to those lofty expectations which is a great sign for an team with a starting pitching deficiency throughout the organization. As a result, the Twins have decided to promote the right-hander from the Gulf Coast League Twins to Elizabethton which is the Twins’ rookie ball team in the Appalachian League. This promotion comes after Stewart missed two-and-a-half weeks with a cut on his foot sustained while walking the beach on an off-day, so the fact that Stewart is still on the rise in the organization speaks volumes of his talent and performance this season.
The fact that Stewart is performing well right from the start should come as no surprise to scouting experts who pegged Stewart as one of the top players in the 2013 draft. According to ESPN’s baseball expert Keith Law, Law believes that Stewart has four legitimate pitches, two of which have a chance to end up as 70-grade offerings on the 20-80 scouting scale that pitchers are evaluated by. The two pitches that could end up as 70-grades would be his fastball—which averages around 92-94 mph, but can reach as high as 97—and his slider which averages around 85-88 mph with a late break.
Combine those intangibles with Stewart’s stats at the Gulf Coast League—a 1.69 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts over 16 innings—and Stewart certainly earned his promotion; but this type of promotion doesn’t mean Stewart is being placed on the fast track by the organization. This is a nice sign of progress for the youngster; but at the end of the day, it still is only a jump to rookie ball which should be an expectation of a player taken as high as Stewart was instead of a surprise.
If things continue to progress for Stewart, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitch at high Class-A by the end of next year with the earliest he arrives in the big-leagues being late 2015 or late 2016 at the earliest.