- Full name Zachary Robert Stewart
- Born 09/28/1986 in Wichita Falls, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Texas Tech
- Debut 06/16/2011
Drafted in the 3rd round (84th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 (signed for $450,000).
View Draft ReportLike Andrew Cashner, Stewart is a former junior college starter who has thrived after transferring to a Big 12 school and moving to the bullpen. His best pitch is a 92-96 mph fastball with filthy sink. Early in the season, he showed a sharp slider that some scouts graded as a plus-plus offering, though it has become more sweepy as the draft approached. Stewart also shows the makings of an average changeup in bullpen workouts, leading some clubs to think he could move back to the rotation in pro ball. But as a starter at North Central Texas CC in 2007, he pitched at 88-90 with his sinker, a lesser slider and diminished control. Texas Tech moved Stewart into the rotation late in the year, and he gave up 16 hits over nine innings in his first two starts. His 6-foot-1, 175-pound build and inconsistent command also seem to make him more suited for relief work. A possible first-rounder at midseason, Stewart is more of a sandwich- to second-rounder now.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The fourth trade acquisition among the first five players on this list, Stewart came to the Blue Jays along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke in a mid-2009 deal that sent Scott Rolen to the Reds. Cincinnati broke him into pro ball as a reliever in 2008, started him at the beginning of 2009 and shifted him back to the bullpen shortly before the trade in an effort to keep his innings down. Toronto kept him in the rotation to finish 2009. Stewart returned to the rotation in 2010, and he pitched well in Double-A. Stewart works with two plus pitches in his fastball and slider. His fastball sits in the low 90s and routinely reaches 95-96 mph, featuring above-average sink. His mid-80s slider has depth and misses bats. The slider sits in the mid-80s and is a good swing-and-miss pitch with depth. He commands both pitches well. Stewart also developed some feel for a changeup last season, and it has the potential to become an average offering. With a third effective pitch to go with his durability, Stewart could become a mid-rotation starter. Stewart is in the mix to win a big league rotation spot in 2011. If he can't cut it as a starter, he has the stuff and makeup to become a set-up man or a closer.
Zach Stewart's baseball career has taken several twists and turns. He made stops at Angelo State (Texas) and North Central Texas CC before transferring to Texas Tech for his junior season in 2008. The Red Raiders' pitching staff fell apart as the season wore on, and Stewart went from being their closer to their Friday-night starter. He generated some first-round buzz early in the spring, but his role changes caused his performance to suffer somewhat. The Reds drafted him in the third round, signed him for $450,000 and returned him to the bullpen for his pro debut. Though Stewart was electric as a reliever, Cincinnati moved him back to the rotation at the start of the 2009 season, in part to make him use his secondary pitches. He dominated hitters in high Class A and Double-A before the Reds shifted him to their Triple-A bullpen to keep his innings down. Soon thereafter, they traded him, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke for Scott Rolen as the Blue Jays gladly shed some payroll. Toronto kept Stewart in relief in August, again in an attempt to manage his workload. Stewart's bread and butter is his hard sinker, which sits at 92-94 mph and touches 95. He also offers a sharp 82-85 mph slider that generates more swings and misses than his fastball, which induces plenty of weak groundouts. He has given up just three homers in 138 pro innings. After rarely using his changeup as a reliever, he developed more trust in the pitch last season. He also improved the life on his changeup, imparting more sink after it had cutting action in the past. A compact athlete with a strong build, Stewart has the durability to remain in the rotation if the Jays desire. He did a better job of maintaining the quality of his stuff as a starter last year than he had in college. He also has the makeup to handle the pressure of closing games. He throws strikes and stays on top of the ball well from a three-quarters arm slot. Stewart must continue to refine his secondary pitches if he's going to be an effective big league starter. His slider can make hitters look silly but still needs more consistency, as does his changeup. His slider has the potential to go from average to plus, while his changeup has the makings of a solid-average pitch. He can get too competitive on the mound, resulting in him overthrowing and losing his ability to locate his pitches. His command isn't as advanced as his control. In his first full pro season, Stewart wasn't fazed switching organizations and roles. Another change is in store for him in 2010, when he'll open the season in the Triple-A Las Vegas rotation. He should make his big league debut later in the year. The Blue Jays haven't determined their final plan for Stewart. If he gets the most out of his secondary pitches, he has the upside of a frontline starter. He also could be a force as a setup man or closer.
Though he was just drafted last June, Stewart could find a role in the big league bullpen quickly. He started his college career at Angelo State (Texas) and North Central Texas CC before spending the 2008 season at Texas Tech. He earned attention as a possible first-round pick early in the spring but slid to the third round, in part because the Red Raiders used him in different roles as their pitching staff fell apart. He spent most of the season as the closer but ended up as the Friday starter at the end of the year, putting together a 130-pitch masterpiece against Baylor in his last start of the season. After signing him for $450,000, the Reds were happy to move him back to the bullpen, where his 93-96 mph fastball and biting 82-85 mph slider give him a pair of potential out pitches. His fastball has lots of natural sink, which makes it hard for hitters to drive. His slider became sweepier as a starter, but it tightened back up once he joined the Reds. He threw a somewhat promising changeup as a starter, but will have little need for it now that he's back in the bullpen. His command and delivery are polished for a late-inning reliever, and he should spend most of his first full pro season in Double-A.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011
- Rated Best Fastball in the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010