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FORT MYERS, FLA.--On a day when heralded Georgia righthander Kumar Rocker took the mound and flashed a 97-98 mph fastball, it was another large, physical righthander who stole the show: Mississippi State commit Carter Stewart.
Taking the mound Sunday morning, Stewart was as comfortable as could be.
He opened his outing with a big, sweeping 81 mph curveball for strike one and followed it with a 91 mph fastball that generated a swing and miss. He finished off his first batter by going back to the curve, getting another swing and miss on another 81 mph bender.
That was only a taste of what was still to come, as Stewart struck out his next batter on three pitches--fastball, changeup, curve--and forced his third batter to ground out just in front of the plate. Coming off of the mound, Stewart used his long strides to get to the ball quickly, and managed to make a strong throw to first despite losing his footing right before making the throw.
Florida righty Carter Stewart got several swings & misses on a 90-91 FB and a big, sweeping 81 mph breaking ball. 3 batters on 9 pitches: pic.twitter.com/ERJqvJAaU9
-- Carlos Collazo (@CarlosACollazo) June 18, 2017
Stewart needed just nine pitches to get out of his first inning.
More of the same came in Stewart’s second inning, as he faced four batters and got all three outs on looking strikeouts. His fastball held at 90-91 through the first three batters of the second inning, before dropping down to 89 against the final batter he faced. Even then, he still located his fastball to the bottom corners of the strike zone.
Twenty-four pitches. Seven batters faced. Six strikeouts. One memorable performance.
“It’s really an amazing experience,” Stewart said afterward. “It’s really good getting to know everybody.”
While Stewart has played in multiple Perfect Game tournaments with the Central Florida Gators, this was the first showcase event he’s appeared in.
“I've only been around for a year really,” Stewart said. “I started last summer and I've played in probably five or six events … (My) next event is the Tournament of Stars. And really, (the goal) is to just keep improving velocity on my fastball and start working on the changeup more.”
Listed at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, Stewart has a fantastic pitcher’s frame, with room for him to fill out and continue adding muscle. He has a loose and easy arm action, throwing from a three-quarter arm slot with a full arm circle prior to release, and he finishes low and across his body with balance and minimal head movement. All of those qualities make him a prime candidate to continue adding velocity as he develops, and also make him one of the most interesting arms in a 2018 class.
With his Eau Gallie High (Melbourne, Fla.) team this spring, Stewart went 9-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA and made some progress with the mental side of his game.
“I threw well, but honestly improved most with my composure on the mound,” he said. “Just going out there, even when I have not as good defense behind me in high school, I can still go out there and throw, do my best, make it happen.”