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Carter Stewart Agrees To Contract With Japanese League (Report)

Image credit: Carter Stewart, who was selected eighth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, puts his name on the draft board during the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft at Studio 42 at the MLB Network on Monday, June 4, 2018 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

May 22, 8:55 A.M. UPDATE: According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Stewart’s agreement with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks is for six years and worth more than $7 million. 

The No. 38 prospect in the draft class, Eastern Florida State JC righthander Carter Stewart, has reached an agreement with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

Stewart, who early this season looked like he could become a top-10 selection for a second consecutive year after failing to reach an agreement with the Braves in 2018, showed the same high-level stuff at his best. But he was more inconsistent as the spring went on, and concerns about what his medical report may show dimmed his draft stock in some teams’ eyes.

Below is Stewart’s 2019 draft report: 

Ranked No. 9 on the 2018 BA 500, Stewart was the second prep pitcher selected when the Braves took the righthander with the No. 8 overall pick last June. After pitching in the upper 80s and low 90s over the summer prior to his senior season, Stewart began throwing his fastball in the mid-90s during the following spring and also possessed one of the best high school breaking balls evaluators had seen in years. Those two 70-grade pitches made him a top-10 selection in a deep pitching class, but Stewart and the Braves were never able to agree to a signing bonus after the team brought up concerns over an asymptomatic wrist issue that came up during Stewart’s medical. Following the situation, Stewart filed a grievance against the team, which the Braves later won. Now, after pitching at Eastern Florida State JC in 2019, Stewart still has a chance to go in the first round, but he’s unlikely to go as high as he did in 2018. Stewart has shown flashes of the pure stuff he displayed as a high school senior—led by a fastball that gets into the mid-90s and his infamous high-spin rate curveball—but he hasn’t shown as much consistency as he did last season. Stewart has also added a slider to his repertoire, but it’s closer to an average offering while his curveball still has plus-plus potential. He occasionally uses a solid changeup as well. Stewart added weight to his lower half this spring, and while that increased his strength, some scouts believed it also hindered his delivery and increased the stiffness in his legs. While he has impressive body control, Stewart is not an elite athlete and teams think he’ll need to have more dedicated offseason workout plans to prevent his stuff or strike-throwing—which is solid—from backing up. Through 12 starts and 68.1 innings with Eastern Florida State, Stewart posted a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts and 23 walks. He possesses all of the necessary talent and pure stuff, but there are many more questions with Stewart in 2019 than there were one year ago. Add on the fact that the Braves found a medical issue they didn’t like and that will surely leave some teams apprehensive this June.

Baseball America will update this post as more information becomes available.

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