Carter Stewart was always going to be selected high in Major League Baseball’s June Amateur draft, and he can thank his curveball for that. As previously reported by USA TODAY High School Sports’ Jim Halley, Stevens’ curveball has a spin rate that’s higher than virtually anyone currently pitching in Major League Baseball.
Now that he’s been taken 7th in the first round by Atlanta Braves, Stewart knows the time has come for him to focus on that curveball and his pitching repertoire, much as that may take away a part of the game he truly loves: in his senior campaign at Eau Gallie (Fla.), Stewart has excelled at the dish, driving in 22 runs in his first 64 at-bats of the season, adding seven home runs to his file.
“I may not get to hit much after high school, but when you’re hitting well, it makes everything a blast everyday to do your thing,” Stewart previously told USA TODAY’s Jim Halley. “I don’t know if I’ll be hitting much more this season. The other day, I swung too hard and had a little bit of a wrist issue.”
Intriguingly, Stewart is the rare draft prospect whose stock has risen even while his senior-year record dipped. He finished his final high school campaign with a W-L mark of 6-4, yet he made up for that with 128 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. His fastball already hits as high as 97 mph when in its flow, and he is widely considered right among the best right-handed pitching prospects in the Class of 2018, in part because of his 6-foot-6 frame.
Stewart also already has the professional drive and mentality needed to be successful. The hurler has a built-in hobby for off days thanks to his success on the golf course (he was an all-conference golfer for Eau Gallie as a senior) and has a more driven focus thanks to the perspective he gained following his older brother’s suicide at the age of 19.
“(Hyde Stewart’s death) has been a big part of my life that a lot of people know about me to understand my past and how I got good at the game,” Stewart told USA TODAY. “Baseball was kind of an out for me in a way and it was something I could turn to and take my mind off of things and put my focus into.”
Now he’s on the verge of turning that focus into a profession, one he hopes will turn him into the player so many believe he can be.
“It’s kind of surreal. You watch [MLB] games as a kid, especially since it wasn’t that long ago,” Stewart told MLB.com. “I was just thinking, it would be a dream to play on that field. Now knowing I have a legitimate chance, … it’s an incredible feeling.”