The Detroit Tigers will purchase Christin Stewart’s contract from Triple-A Toledo and call him up in time for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers also recalled relief pitcher Zac Reininger and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. To make room for Stewart and Saltalamacchia, the Tigers moved Artie Lewicki to the 60-day disabled list.
Stewart, a 24-year-old outfielder drafted out of the University of Tennessee in 2015, is the No. 9 prospect in the Tigers’ system. He spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he hit .264/.364/.480 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI. He has eclipsed the 20-homer mark in each of his three full professional seasons, and has 94 dingers in 479 games at the pro level. MLB Pipeline, who ranked Stewart as the No. 6 prospect in the system, graded his power as an above-average tool, while FanGraphs projected him for plus in-game power at peak.
Stewart supplements that power with an advanced approach at the plate. He walked in 12.8 percent of his plate appearances at Toledo this year, and has been at 10 percent or better at all levels over the past three years. He strikes out a fair amount, but cut his strikeout rate to 20.7 percent at Triple-A this year, a nice improvement despite moving up a level. He won’t hit for a high average — Steamer projects him for a .244 batting average — but should be an above-average hitter at the major league level thanks to his power and eye at the plate.
Stewart will need to be a good hitter, because the rest of his game isn’t well-rounded. He is a poor defender, one limited to left field by his weak arm and below-average foot speed. He hasn’t drawn any attention for his baserunning (good or bad), but only has 12 stolen bases on 17 attempts in his minor league career. The organization will give Stewart as many chances as possible to stick in left, but he might see a fair amount of playing time as the team’s designated hitter in the future.
Luckily, the organization isn’t calling him up just for “the experience.”
Christin Stewart is not starting today because he just arrived and is on 2 1/2 hours of sleep, but Gardenhire said he will play *every day* this month in left field -- not DH.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) September 9, 2018
That basically means Jones, Reyes and Mahtook will share center field from here on out.
Reininger’s call-up was inevitable. He is already on the 40-man roster, but has struggled to find his footing at the major league level. He has a 7.50 ERA in 12 MLB innings this year with poor peripherals to match. He had a strong season at Triple-A Toledo, however, with a 2.63 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 51 1⁄3 innings. His raw stuff isn’t noteworthy — he has a mid-90s fastball along with a pair of breaking balls he hasn’t quite refined yet — but is still only 25 and could be a solid middle reliever if he figures things out.
Saltalamacchia is a disappointing call-up. It would be nice to see the organization give a younger player a chance to test his mettle. However, his addition makes it clear that manager Ron Gardenhire wants a third catcher on the roster for the stretch run.
There should be more additions soon, though.
Rob Gardenhire said two or three more pitchers will be joining team. No announcement yet. Tigers will use six-man rotation.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) September 9, 2018
Here’s hoping that sixth starter is someone a little more interesting than Blaine Hardy or Ryan Carpenter.