Sometimes things in life don’t work out. Despite your best efforts, some things just aren’t meant to be. Today, my friends isn’t one of those times. No, quite the opposite in fact. Today is one of those days when everything goes right. All the lights you hit are green, everyone greets you with a smile, and you start writing a post about Dodgers farmhand Brock Stewart, and he’s called up. Things rarely turn out this way in life, at least mine, maybe yours is different. I’m going to stop there before this turns into a more self indulgent undertaking than any mid-aughts emo band. My apologies to anyone listening to a Dashboard Confessional song while reading along (P.S. Kick your own ass). Today we’ll take a deeper look at the Dodgers latest rotation member, and see what we can expect from Stewart in the near future. We’ll then close things out with a truncated minor league update, just so I can get some nuggets of info into your heads. We’ll be skipping our usual bi-weekly Minor League Update post this Sunday, for the midseason top 100 fantasy baseball prospects. That’s right! Get excited, we can all argue about my over-ranking, under-ranking, and just general ignorance on your favorite prospects.
There’s no one path to success in the majors. Not everyone in the top 100 will be a major league contributor, and there are plenty of prospects off everyone’s radar that make an impact each season. I’m not sure if I’ve said that a bunch during my tenure as Razzball’s resident Prospector, but it’s something I hold to be true. Today’s prospect profile is a perfect example of this. Brock Stewart didn’t make the Baseball America Dodgers top 30, Minorleague.com’s Dodger top 20, and has randomly popped up as MLB.com’s 26th best Dodgers spec. The later looks to be an updated list, because I have no recollection of seeing him on the March version. All this to say that he was off the radar.
Stewart’s journey is one of a path less ordinary, but not one entirely foreign in the baseball world. Stewart played his college ball for his father Jeff at Illinois State. He spent most of his time there manning 3rd base for the Redbirds. Called upon during when needed as a reliever, Stewart showed enough in his limited time on the mound that the Dodgers decided to take him in the 2014 6th round as a pitcher. He started his professional career with the Dodgers rookie ball team. There he had a solid showing going 3-2 with a 3.41 ERA, and a 11.8 k/9 over 34.1 innings. The 2015 season started with an assignment to the Dodgers A affiliate in Great Lakes. There he made 7 starts going 2-2, with a 2.84 ERA, a 9.0 k/9, and a 1.42 Bb/9. He was then promoted to hi-A Rancho Cucamonga where he struggled in 12 starts and 6 relief appearances.
To start the 2016 campaign, Stewart was once again optioned to hi-A Rancho Cucamonga. It was there that he started his incredible assent to the major leagues. Out of spring training a few Dodgers fan-sites had spoke of an uptick in velocity and life on his fastball. Word was he had jumped from sitting 89-92 regularly, to 92-95, touching 96 on occasion. Sure enough he displayed just that at RC, and then Tulsa and then OKC. Compiling an impressive statline along the way; over 14 starts this year he’s 8-3 with a 1.47 ERA, .86 WHIP, a K/9 of 10.4 to a Bb/9 of 1.5 across three levels. All things considered, this was a very quick ascension for a player that had barely focused on pitching.
He starts this evening against the Brewers, and I’m excited to see what he can do. It’s not the worst possible matchup, and with news of Clayton Kershaw’s back acting up, it’s not far fetched to imagine a scenario where Stewart sticks around. His profile, statistics, and attributes all point to a potential solid major league starter in the making. He’s got the stuff, with a live mid-90’s fastball, a plus change, and depending on who you read, a slider(s), that grade everywhere from average to fringe plus. I say slider(s) because Baseball America’s report states that he uses two different sliders, one that’s a wipeout pitch that he gets batters to chase, and another that he throws for strikes. (Or maybe he just throws it outside the zone sometimes…but I digress). Regardless of what his arsenal consists of, he knows how to spot them, and has advanced command. He’s got the ideal frame at 6’3 210, so he’s built to carry some innings. He’s got the freshest arm in the system; Stewart hasn’t been a pitcher his whole life so unlike a lot of other pitching specs Stewart hasn’t taxed his arm. Low milage isn’t just a win for car owners! His innings limit is a concern having never thrown more than 110 frames in any season. He’s at 80 now, I don’t know how that effects him, but as previously stated, he has no injury history and is built like a workhorse. Best case scenario we’re talking about a number three pitcher with the ability to get on a hot streak which makes him look unbeatable. At worst he’s a back of the rotation guy with some k upside.
Big shouts to J-FOH for inspiring this one with his Dodgers love, and valued text banter on all things prospects.
Minor League News and Notes
- It’s been a big couple of weeks for promotions throughout the minors, Lucas Giolito was promoted to Washington, Brandon Nimmo to the Mets, Brock Stewart to the Dodgers, Kyle Freeland was promoted to AAA Albuquerque, Alex Bregman and Teoscar Hernandez were (reportedly) promoted to AAA Fresno, Yoan Moncada joined Andrew Benintendi in Portland, Indians super-catching prospect Francisco Mejia and Ian Happ, often the forgot future star of last year’s first round, was promoted to AA Tennessee.
- Speaking of Ian Happ his first week in AA couldn’t have gone better, well it could but he’d have to hit 1.000 with 17 homers in 17 plate appearances. As my high school latin teacher once said in a moment of self reflection, no one is perfect. (Don’t be so hard on your self Mr. Scully you were only a former Harvard Valedictorian making $25,000 teaching latin to kids with Boston accents). Any the who, Happ is hitting .733/.706/1.267 with an OPS of 1.973 with 2 homers. Yeah and he’s going to have 2B and OF eligibility once he matriculates, whether with the Cubs or another team (Yankees?)
- The Future’s Game rosters were announced on Tuesday (I think), and you can check them out here. Obviously a lot of interesting players, a few guys missing I would have liked to have seen (cough cough Happ), but all in all it will be the event that has my attention from the upcoming All-Star festivities. I like The Future’s game for one reason, all the stupid things the announcers say about prospects that get repeated to me over the next few weeks. If Hunter Dozier hits a homer, he’ll all of a sudden be the next Nolan Arenado. National TV and bad announcing has a way of confusing the masses and empowering idiots.
- Ho hum, Tyler Glasnow won another game at AAA Indianapolis. He went 6 strong allowing 2 runs, on 4 hits, and 4 walks, with 5 k’s. I get it Pirates, he walks batters, but so does Francisco Liriano and you guys trot his old ass out there. I won’t even get into Jon Niese, who doesn’t walk batters, he just main streets everything.
- Hey remember Jose Berrios? You guys all loved him prior to his call up, then you got off him quicker than a Kardashian does a rapper. Well, he’s en fuego again, firing 1 hit ball over 7 innings against the Paw-Sox, after throwing 8 two hit innings against Columbus last Thursday. I would imagine he’s on the shortlist for a callup.
- Speaking of pitching specs we all forgot, don’t look now but former Red Sox first round pick Trey Ball is finally starting to put things together for hi-A Salem. Over his last three starts he’s 3-0 with a .93 ERA, the K’s aren’t there (13 in 19.1 innings).
- Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges was on an epic tear at the end of last week, slugging homers in 5 consecutive games. He’s no longer technically a prospect having passed him limits last year, but for our intents and purposes he is. He’s really been on a tear all season slashing .372/.423/.734 with 9 homers and 28 steaks.
- Trea Turner has started consecutive games in centerfield. Grey mentioned this in his post on Tuesday, but my guess is this is their way of getting him into the lineup…..FINALLY!!!
Follow me on twitter @Ralphlifshitzbb