Carter Stewart Jr. has already had a fascinating journey in his professional baseball career. He had been selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves and appeared set to receive a signing bonus between $4 and $5 million before concerns about his wrist changed those plans. The Braves offered him just enough where he would refuse and they could recoup that first round pick.
Stewart and the MLBPA filed a grievance, saying the Braves did not negotiate in good faith and that he should be a free agent. The grievance was denied, Stewart enrolled in a junior college, and ultimately signed a six year deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, receiving $7 million.
Former Atlanta Braves draft pick Carter Stewart Jr. showing his potential in LPBRC
While he had a brief stint with the Hawks NPB squad, he has spent most of his time in Japan in their minors, working on his stuff and harnessing his command. That work is paying off as Stewart is dominating in the Puerto Rico Winter League.
Although he has made just two appearances, Stewart appears to have taken a major step forward. He has allowed just two runs, one earned, on five hits and three walks over his 12 innings, striking out 18 batters. His most recent outing, when he allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters in seven innings, was one of the more dominant outings in the league this year.
It also shows his potential. Stewart had been considered one of the best pitching prospects in the draft, his impressive spin rates and stuff led the Braves to imagine a possible future ace. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and mixes well with a plus curve with incredible spin and a solid change that he has displayed a natural feel for.
It is going to be some time before Stewart comes back stateside. As it is, he still needs to prove himself in Nippon Professional Baseball as he has just those 11 relief appearances from 2021 thus far. However, if he can continue his strong showing in Puerto Rico and carry that over for the Hawks, his star could light up the prospect sky once more.
Carter Stewart Jr. was supposed to be a future star for the Atlanta Braves. He is showing that potential in the LPBRC thus far.