On September 9th the Detroit Tigers promoted outfield prospect Christian Stewart to the major league roster. He’s started the last two games and should see considerable action during the last two weeks of the season, setting him up for a shot in the starting lineup in 2019. Let’s do a quick review.
The Tigers drafted Stewart in the compensation round in 2015 from the University of Tennessee. He’s been a consistent and rock-steady power producer at each level, hitting .255/.386/.517 with 30 homers in High-A/Double-A in 2016, then .256/.335/.501 with 28 homers in Double-A in 2017.
Stewart ranked eighth on the pre-season Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects for 2018 list with this comment:
8) Christin Stewart, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 24, compensation pick in 2015 from University of Tennessee, hit .256/.335/.501 with 28 homers, 56 walks, 138 strikeouts in 485 at-bats in Double-A; 60-grade power and good feel for the strike zone make him productive although there’s enough swing/miss in his game that his batting average could be rather low; both range and arm are below average in the outfield, limiting him to left though he usually catches what he gets to; bat should be ready soon; ETA late 2018.
His 2018 season was similar to past performances: .264/.364/.480 with 23 homers, 67 walks, and 108 strikeouts in 444 at-bats for the Toledo Mud Hens in the Triple-A International League. His wRC+ was quite strong at 138.
Stewart is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, age 24, listed at 6-0, 205. His basic profile has not changed: raw power is his best tool but unlike many young hitters, he actually taps this power in games. He’s relatively selective and has maintained a good walk rate as he’s advanced, while reducing his strikeouts gradually without loss of power. That said, he’s not likely to it for high averages in the short run but the power/patience combination should be potent.
The negative is defense: his speed and arm are below average. He’s worked hard to improve his routes and isn’t a butcher in left field; his error rate is actually quite low, but the lack of natural speed and range limits what he can do. Still, the glove is playable if he hits enough, which he should. His makeup is another positive.
Stewart has nothing left to prove in Triple-A and I think he’s a solid prospect for 2019. Looking three years down the road, he strikes me as the type of hitter who could have some really outstanding seasons in his late 20s, with a spike of batting average to go with his other skills.
Just a feeling. . .