The Detroit Tigers don't often draft college bats in the high rounds of the MLB amateur player draft. Then again, they don't often have many picks in those high rounds. The Tigers bucked previous trends with their second pick of the 2015 draft, selecting outfielder Christin Stewart from the University of Tennessee with the No. 34 overall pick.
Stewart is a solidly built player, standing six feet tall and weighing 205 pounds. He has a prototypical left-handed power swing and hit 15 home runs for the Volunteers in 2015, earning him First-Team All-SEC honors. He batted .311/.443/.633 in 50 games, drawing 28 walks to 38 strikeouts. While the walk rate looks decent at first glance, Stewart is viewed as an aggressive hitter who will need to develop more plate discipline at the next level. If he can improve his eye, Stewart will force pitchers to work into his wheelhouse, which should lead to solid power numbers.
Baseball Prospectus' Chris Crawford was complimentary of Stewart's offensive skills, but warned that he will have to hit for power if he is going to provide much value.
Stewart is a well-built outfielder who's best tool is potentially plus power from the left side, but there's some feel for hitting, and if the patience can improve, the hit tool could reach average. He's a terrible defender in the outfield though, and asking him to play anything but left field would be asking way too much. The bat can play in left field, but he'll have to max out the offensive tools to be a regular.
ESPN Insider offered a similar outlook, but was not as optimistic about Stewart's potential to hit for average.
At the plate, Stewart's calling card is his raw power, as the left-handed hitter has natural loft, and when he clears his hips, he's shown he's capable of hitting tape-measure shots to right and right center field. He's a patient hitter as well, rarely giving up at-bats by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and drawing his fair share of walks. However, because the swing has some length and the bat speed isn't elite, the chance of hitting for high average isn't high.
While Stewart has some offensive potential, he's likely to leave teams wanting more from his glove. He's a below-average runner with a below-average arm, and that, along with only average instincts, limits the outfielder to left field.
Stewart was MLB.com's 66th ranked prospect prior to this year's draft, with his raw power drawing the only above average grade of the five standard scouting tools.
Stewart raised his profile with a strong summer turn with USA Baseball. He's continued to show enough with the bat to make him the kind of college performer who typically does well once the Draft rolls around.
The Tennessee outfielder has always shown a good amount of bat speed, but in the past it's typically generated more line drives than loft, more extra-base gap power than over-the-fence pop. While Stewart does swing and miss a bit, he was walking at a higher rate in 2015 and more than doubled his career home run total over his first two years with the Volunteers. A fringy runner with an average at best arm, Stewart likely would profile best in left field defensively.
Listed at 6-foot, 205 pounds, Stewart has a physical frame and produces above-average bat speed. That, combined with the natural leverage in his swing, translates into plus raw power. His swing gets long at times and he’s an aggressive hitter, a combination that leads to few walks and some swing-and-miss. Some scouts aren’t sure if Stewart has a true defensive home. He has below-average speed and arm strength, limiting him to left if he does stay in the outfield. No matter where he plays defensively, the main attraction will be his bat. He’ll need to prove his power will continue play at the next level, but that’s a familiar position for Stewart.
Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel ranked Stewart as the No. 98 overall prospect prior to this year's draft.