- Full name Ian Kenneth Stewart
- Born 04/05/1985 in Long Beach, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School La Quinta
- Debut 08/11/2007
Drafted in the 1st round (10th overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 2003 (signed for $1,950,000).
View Draft ReportEven though he was the star player on the nation's No. 1 high school team in the preseason, Stewart has actually improved his stock. He was a borderline first-round pick coming in and now ranks as a possible top 10 pick overall. He has exceptional bat speed and more power even than Delmon Young, according to some scouts. Though his swing is flat and lacks tilt, he projects to hit 35-40 homers a year in the big leagues. His power is to all fields. On the season, Stewart was hitting .473-13-55. A Southern California recruit, Stewart's bat compares favorably to two past lefthanded-hitting third-base Trojan recruits: Eric Chavez and Sean Burroughs, both former first-rounders. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Stewart would be a certain top 10 pick if scouts were sure he could play third base down the road. He will likely get every chance to play his way off the position but may end up at first base or left field.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Teaming with Ian Kennedy to help La Quinta High win the 2003 California Southern section title, Stewart set Orange County records with 16 homers and 61 RBIs. The 10th overall pick that June, he signed for $1.95 million and ranked No. 1 on this list in 2005 and 2006. He made his big league debut late last season, primarily serving as a pinch-hitter in the Rockies' pennant drive. Stewart hasn't had a strong followup to his 2004 breakout in low Class A Asheville (.319, 30 homers), but he has big-time power potential along the lines of Matt Holliday, who failed to put up big numbers in the minors. Stewart has a quick bat and good plate coverage. Because he grew up hitting against his father, a lefty, he had good feel against southpaws and hit .312 with a .522 slugging percentage against them in 2007. He's a gifted athlete with a strong arm, allowing him to make spectacular plays at third base. He has average speed and some basestealing instincts. Stewart's swing can get a bit long and he can become too pull-conscious. He needs to develop more patience and trust his ability to drive balls to the opposite field. He gets lackadaisical on routine plays, leading to careless errors. Because Garrett Atkins is at the hot corner in Colorado, Stewart has worked out at second base and the outfield. He fits best as a run-producing third baseman, however, and soon may force the Rockies to make room for him. He'll return to Triple-A to begin 2008.
The first high school position player ever selected by the Rockies in the first round, Stewart went 10th overall in 2003 and ranked No. 1 on this list in each of the last two years. He battled injuries in 2005 and posted the worst numbers of his pro career in Double-A in 2006. There's legitimate power in Stewart's bat. He hit just 10 homers last year, but his 41 doubles showed how he can drive the ball. He has a quick bat and has excellent plate coverage when he stays in sync. He has average speed but is an excellent baserunner. His strong arm is his best defensive attribute. Last year, Stewart got carried away trying to jerk pitches. He lost his timing mechanism with his open stance and turned so quickly that he couldn't square up the ball on the bat. He also started to guess with pitchers and wound up getting overpowered by fastballs when he was looking for something offspeed. He has to get back to trusting his reflexes. This is a big year for Stewart. He should open at Triple-A Colorado Springs, though he could find himself back in Double-A to start the season. The biggest question is where he'll play. Garrett Atkins took hold of third base in Colorado last season, so Stewart could move to an outfield corner down the road.
In their first 11 drafts, the Rockies took a position player in the first round just once--Todd Helton in 1995. Since then, they have taken Stewart with the 10th overall pick in 2003, followed by shortstops Chris Nelson in 2004 and Troy Tulowitzki in 2005. Before signing for $1.95 million, Stewart starred as an amateur, winning a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2002 World Junior Championships and leading La Quinta (Calif.) High to a No. 3 national ranking in 2003. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2003 and No. 2 in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2004 before facing adversity for the first time in 2005. A pulled hamstring forced him to spend April in extended spring training, and a sprained right wrist cost him a week in June. But he reinforced Colorado's confidence in his potential by rallying to hit .299-11-52 in his final 60 games at high Class A Modesto to rate as the fourth-best prospect in the California League. He batted .333-3-12 in 12 Arizona Fall League games before reinjuring his wrist sliding into second base. Stewart should be a quality run producer in the middle of a big league lineup. He has quick hands that allow him to wait on pitches, and his pitch recognition is strong. He's a natural hitter with bat speed, strength and a slight uppercut which generates loft power. He can drive balls out of the park to the opposite field. He handles lefthanded pitching better than most lefty hitters, in part because his father is a southpaw and has thrown him batting practice for years. Stewart is driven to be an elite player, and he makes no qualms that he expects to become not only an all-star, but also a Gold Glover. He has average speed and plus arm strength. Stewart's swing can get a little long, but his bat is quick enough to compensate. He did have some problems early on in 2005 when pitchers fed him a steady diet of breaking balls and offspeed pitches. He showed the ability to adjust and took advantage of that pitching pattern later in the season. Stewart's third-base defense needs the most work. He made impressive strides in 2004 but seemed to level off in 2005. He reacts a little slowly and has trouble with hard-hit balls directly at him. If Garrett Atkins builds on his rookie season in Colorado, it's possible that Stewart could move to right field, a shift some scouts thought was inevitable when he was in high school. However, he has improved and won't change positions any time soon. Stewart didn't suffer any structural damage when he reinjured his wrist and is expected to be 100 percent by spring training. He'll move to Double-A Tulsa and could reach Triple-A Colorado Springs by midseason if he stays healthy. If all goes according to plan, his bat could earn him a trip to the majors in September, but a more likely scenario is a mid-2007 arrival at Coors Field. He should follow in Helton's footsteps and become the organization's second homegrown star.
Stewart had a decorated amateur career. On the U.S. team that won the bronze medal at the 2002 World Junior Championship, he hit in the middle of a powerful lineup behind fellow 2003 first-round picks Delmon Young and Lastings Milledge. The next spring he teamed with righthander Ian Kennedy, now the ace at Southern California, to make La Quinta High the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Stewart earned All-America honors with a .462-16-61 senior season as La Quinta finished third in the nation. The Rockies drafted him 10th overall in 2003, the first time they took a position player in the first round since franchise cornerstone Todd Helton in 1995. Since signing for $1.95 million, Stewart has ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2003 and the No. 2 prospect (behind Young) in the low Class A South Atlantic League last season. He led the SAL in extra-base hits (70) and slugging percentage. Colorado hasn't had a hitter like Stewart in its system since Helton. Stewart punishes good fastballs and has the strength and hand speed to wait back and drive offspeed stuff. He has good plate coverage and learned to use the whole field during the season. He adjusted when SAL pitchers began throwing him junk, and did damage at both Asheville's cozy McCormick Field (.621 slugging percentage) and on the road (.568). Stewart has average speed, and he's a savvy and aggressive baserunner. While he fell short of his goal of a 30-30 season, he did steal 19 bases in 28 attempts. Defensively, he has an above-average arm. Along with his tools, Stewart has strong desire. He wants to be an all-star and a Gold Glove third baseman, and he's willing to do what it takes to get there. The Rockies rave about his work ethic and focus on team goals. The biggest question facing Stewart in high school was whether he would be able to stay at third base as a pro. Colorado sent adviser Walt Weiss, a former all-star shortstop, to watch his workouts before the draft. Weiss not only gave Stewart his stamp of approval, but he also has brought him to his home in Denver for offseason training. Stewart has worked hard to improve his lateral mobility and quickened his first step. He gets himself in trouble by dropping down on throws, but that can be easily overcome with coaching and experience. Even when a spot opened up in high Class A, the Rockies kept Stewart at Asheville for all of last season. Farm director Bill Geivett wanted Stewart to finish 2004 where he began, just as Vladimir Guerrero spent all of 1995 in the SAL when Geivett was his farm director with the Expos. Geivett likens Stewart's hitting ability to that of Guerrero, who finished his next season in the majors. He says a similar quick path could be in store for Stewart, who probably will start 2005 at Colorado's new high Class A Modesto affiliate. He already has forced the move of 2004 fifth-round pick Matt Macri to second base and will push Jeff Baker to an outfield corner.
Stewart set local records with 16 homers and 61 RBIs last spring, helping La Quinta High win 30 games and an 11th consecutive league championship. After signing for $1.95 million, Stewart earned top prospect honors in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. A legitimate run producer, Stewart had no problems adjusting to wood bats. He started hitting the day he got to Casper, driving the ball out of the ballpark in all directions. He has quality plate coverage and is strong on the inner half of the plate. He has below-average speed but excellent instincts on the bases. Stewart may have to move to first base. While he's not a slick fielder, the Rockies say he can become a solid third baseman. As a defender, Rockies adviser Walt Weiss compares him to Chipper Jones with the potential to be Scott Rolen. The key is that Stewart accepts instruction and is driven to succeed. Most important, he wants to play third. Within three years, Stewart could be in the middle of the Colorado lineup. He figures to start 2004 at low Class A Asheville, but he'll move as quickly as he handles the challenge of each level.
Minor League Top Prospects
Stewart's second trip through the PCL saw him increase his power output. He struggled following a callup in mid-May but fared much better after Todd Helton's strained back created an opening for him in the Rockies' lineup. His power is legitimate, and Stewart hit more PCL homers this year on the road (13) than at home (six), despite playing his home games in Colorado Springs' Security Service Field, one of the minors' most hitter-friendly environments. He has a good idea of the strike zone, but his swing gets too long with too much uppercut at times, leaving him vulnerable to inside pitches. Stewart's bat profiles at third base and he's a capable defender there, but his future at the position remains uncertain unless Colorado trades Garrett Atkins. Stewart has seen some time at second base, though his quickness and actions are lacking there.
Stewart continued his one-level-at-a-time trek through the Rockies system with a positive showing in the PCL. Colorado rewarded him with a big league callup in August. The 10th overall pick in 2003, Stewart profiles as an above-average big league third baseman, but it might take him time to reach that potential. While he is a disciplined hitter, he doesn't stay inside the ball well and shows an uppercut swing despite just average power. Scouts and managers said Stewart tended to hit a lot of topspin line drives, the product of a top-hand heavy swing. He would be a tougher out if took the ball to left field more often, but Colorado Springs' home field rewards a power approach with the highest elevation in the minors. Stewart's flaws are correctable, though, and he projects to hit for average in the majors because of a quick bat and good plate coverage. An average runner, he's a good defender at third, with the agility and range for the position and a strong, accurate arm.
Stewart ranked among the top prospects in all of baseball after his first year and a half in the Rockies system, but he has dealt with more adversity in the last couple of seasons. Injuries were his big problem in 2005, and his first taste of Double-A showed he needs work on his approach at the plate. Stewart has the tools to hit in the middle of a big league lineup, but he'll have to refine his swing. He tries to pull the ball too much and uses too much top hand in his swing. His strike-zone awareness also comes and goes, and he struggled against quality breaking balls. After Double-A pitchers exposed his weaknesses, Stewart did improve as the season went on, raising his average 36 points after bottoming out at .232 in June. He also made strides on defense, showing more range and consistency to go with his strong arm. Stewart's outstanding makeup also hasn't suffered, as he's still a hard worker with the drive to be a star.
Stewart established himself as an elite prospect last year with a monster season in the low Class A South Atlantic League. He missed the first month of the 2005 season with a hamstring injury and it took him a while to find a groove, but he finished with respectable numbers thanks to a .299-11-52 performance in the season's final 60 games. Stewart's combination of pitch recognition and plus power from the left side elicits comparisons to Larry Walker. Just 20, he already has an uncanny knack for recognizing mistake pitches and crushing them. He got a little pull-happy towards the end of the year, which led to an increase in strikeouts. Stewart was praised for his work ethic on defense. His ability to stay at third base, once in question, is no longer an issue. While he still looks raw at times in the field, he played more under control than in the past, with improved footwork and throwing accuracy.
For the first half of the season, Stewart was clearly the Sally League's best player. Only Young's considerable presence kept Stewart out of the top spot. He was similarly impressive, showing power and poise beyond his years. Stewart hit 30 homers and 31 doubles, and he didn't owe his league-leading .594 slugging percentage to Asheville's cozy McCormick Field, posting near-identical numbers at home and on the road. "I liked his swing, liked his arm and liked his glove," Hickory manager Dave Clark said. "That's a pretty good start. You have a lefthanded-hitting third baseman with power, that's pretty huge." Stewart's short, powerful swing makes his bat his best tool, but he's more than adequate defensively. Managers liked his steadiness with the glove as well as his quickness and agility.
Managers loved every aspect of Stewart's game. A high school player drafted 10th overall in June, he made a seamless move into the professional ranks, particularly with the bat. He attracted raves for his aggressiveness at the plate, while others appreciated the way he was into every pitch at third base. "He's a Jim Thome type," Kotchman said. "He drives the ball the other way to left-center field, and he can hit the ball over the right-field lights." Stewart may not be a Gold Glove candidate at third but should be able to handle either corner infield position. Carey said Stewart's work ethic could allow him to be an above-average defender. "He not only met expectations, he's exceeded them," Carey said. "And what I love about him is that the expectations he has for himself are higher than anyone else's."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Colorado Rockies in 2008
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Colorado Rockies in 2007
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Colorado Rockies in 2006
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Colorado Rockies in 2006
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Colorado Rockies in 2005
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Colorado Rockies in 2005
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2004
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2004
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the South Atlantic League in 2004