D.J. Stewart is the 13th prospect on the Baltimore Orioles top 30 prospects list. Number 14, Chris Lee, was profiled earlier today. Stewart has been up and down on the prospects list, reaching as high as number three and as low as 26.
Stewart was drafted out of Florida State University by the Orioles with the 25th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Stewart was a decorated player with the Seminoles, playing mostly in left field. He was a two-time All-American, a Freshman All-American, and was named ACC Player Of The Year as a Sophomore.
Stewart got of to a slow start as a professional. He started with the Aberdeen IronBirds where he played in 62 games. Though he was tied for fourth in the New York-Penn League in home runs with six, he had an average of .218.
During the 2016 season, Stewart started the season with the Delemarva Shorebirds, before finishing the year with the Frederick Keys. He continued to struggle with the Shorebirds, hitting .230 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 62 games. One bright spot for Stewart was he ability to draw a walk. He walked 42 times and had an on-base percentage of .366.
Despite the lackluster numbers with Delemarva, Stewart was promoted to the Frederick Keys. Stewart performed much better while in Frederick. He slashed .279/.389/.448 with six home runs and 30 RBI.
His strong performance in Frederick earned him a promotion to the Bowie Baysox to start the 2017 season. He spent the entire year with Bowie where he excelled. He lead the league in runs scored with 80 and was top 10 in the Eastern League with 127 hits, 26 doubles, 21 doubles, 79 RBI, 65 walks, 20 stolen bases, .378 OBP, and slugging with .481.
His breakout season earned him the chance to spend his spring training in major league camp. He struggled in his 22 plate appearances this spring, only recording four hits and one RBI.
After hitting from an open, over-exaggerated crouch in college and to begin his pro career, Stewart has worked to become more upright at the plate while also closing off in his stance. It’s resulted in a more fluid swing that better incorporates his hands and wrists, thus allowing him to catch up to inner-half velocity and hit for power during games. Stewart’s patient approach and strong on-base skills have long been strengths, and he continues to offer value on the basepaths with his average speed.
While Stewart’s speed and athleticism are better than his stocky build might suggest, he’s already been relegated to left field on account of his fringy glove and below-average arm. Stewart contributes in enough facets of the game to serve as a fifth outfielder, and there’s still a chance of him developing into a regular if his bat and power hold up at higher levels.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 40 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
MLB ETA: 2018