Detroit Tigers: Christin Stewart holding his own
By Tom Hayward
Since been recalled last week, Detroit Tigers prospect Christin Stewart has stepped into a big league role and excelled so far in 2018.
The Detroit Tigers haven’t had a big-name prospect called up in years. For years, the Tigers’ farm system has been among the worst in all of baseball, as former General Manager Dave Dombrowski chose to use his top prospects as trade bait.
Enter Christin Stewart, winner of three minor league player of the year awards. You’ve probably heard a lot about the 34th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, some of it good, some of it not so good. The strikeouts, the patience at the plate, the lack of foot speed and throwing arm in the outfield, and of course, the prodigious power not seen from a Tiger prospect since Nick Castellanos and Steven Moya.
With over 1,000 at-bats, Christin Stewart brings a lot of exposure to minor league pitching. Each year, he has seemingly improved at the plate. This season, he has made more consistent contact, striking out less than 25% of the time. Playing outfield, his only position, has been Stewart’s weakness so far during his professional career. However, he has shown massive improvement this season, even adding a few assists with the Mudhens.
While it’s been speculated all season that the plan for Stewart was to call him up in September, many have questioned how he would fare against big league pitching, and playing in the spacious Comerica Park outfield.
Stewart has exceeded expectations. Sure, he has already made an error in left field, and made a mental error against Cleveland when he threw to third base instead of second with a runner on first, but these aspects of fielding that are easily correctable. Stewart will have every opportunity to fix these mistakes. Why? The dude can flat out hit.
Going into the week of September 17, Stewart already has seven hits and four walks in just 25 at-bats. Even though his massive power hasn’t been on full display, Stewart’s eye certainly has, as he has taken opposing pitching to many 3-ball counts.
Perhaps the biggest potential impact Stewart can make going forward is his effect on other hitters in the lineup. Stewart has hit second in every game he has started this season, right in front of Nick Castellanos. Castellanos has by far been the best hitter on the Tigers, mashing .292/.350/.487 despite having very little support in front and behind him in the lineup.
The Tigers have experimented with anyone that has a pulse in front of Castellanos this season. Double play king Victor Martinez often hit behind Castellanos. The lack of support around Detroit’s slugger in the lineup has prevented him from seeing good pitches to hit. Imagine what he can do with a competent hitter in front or behind him!
With Stewart, Castellanos, Jeimer Candelario (after one full season of major league at-bats) and a healthy Miguel Cabrera, this Detroit Tigers offense could be better than expected in 2019.