Keith Law, a senior baseball writer for ESPN, former writer for Baseball Prospectus, and former front office member of the Toronto Blue Jays, along with one of the most respected prospect scouts around, has released his Top 100 prospects list for 2017. This list is full of names the common fan has not heard of and isn’t related necessarily to impact a player may make in the Majors this season, but their total impact once they reach the Major’s.
The Tigers who rank 24th (out of 30) as far as farm systems go, have landed two players on the list. The first is…
Christin Stewart, a left handed hitting outfielder who Law ranks 92nd overall. Stewart was a first round supplemental selection (34th overall) in the 2015 Amateur Draft out of the University of Tennessee. Stewart flashed some pop in 2015, playing for three different teams in the Tigers organization, where he hit .285 with 30 extra base hits (10 homers) in 256 at bats and had an OPS of .880. In 2016 Stewart really took off, as he played in high-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie and hit a combined .255 with 30 homers, 24 doubles, and had an OPS at .903. Stewart strikes out a bit, but also shows plate discipline where walks quite a bit as well. Here’s what KLaw has to say about him…
Stewart is a power and patience guy, limited to left field, but showing a real ability to drive the ball to all fields that raises him above all of the dead-pull/low-contact guys who populate the low minors. The Tigers took Stewart in the supplemental round in 2015 out of Tennessee, where he hadn’t produced at all until a junior-year breakout where he cut his strikeout rate and hit 15 homers to rank him among the SEC’s top five in that category.
Stewart has a much shorter swing than you’d expect if you looked at his stat line first, getting the bat to the zone quickly with a little drift out over his front side that might cause some trouble when he faces pitchers who can locate their off-speed stuff, but he has an idea of the strike zone and continues to work on pitch selection. His best position is probably the batter’s box, as he’s not going to wow you in left field, but he might be able to work himself up to something near average.
There’s real 30-homer potential here, although it might be a .240/.350/.450 kind of line given his contact rates in the minors and his need to stay back in the box.
The second Tiger to make the list, was last years first round (9th overall) draft pick, Matt Manning. Manning, a right handed pitcher was selected out of Sheldon HS (Sacramento), stands 6′ 6″ and will need time to develop, however in Rookie ball last year, he did throw 29.1 innings, had a 3.99 ERA, and a 2.1 walk per 9 rate, to go along with a 14.1 K per 9 rate.
Here’s what Law has to say about Manning…
Manning is a typical Tigers draft pick — a tall pitcher with a huge fastball — but unlike some similar Detroit picks who haven’t panned out, Manning is a top-of-the-line athlete with limited pitching experience, so there are two good reasons to be optimistic about his development. Three reasons, even, if you count his GCL stats, where he punched out 46 guys in 29 innings against just seven walks.
Manning’s one plus pitch is his 92-98 mph fastball, which is particularly good when he gets on top of it from his 6-foot-6 frame, although he doesn’t get there consistently yet. He has a breaking ball that works against bad hitters, but it’s a spike curveball that he probably won’t command and isn’t that sharp; he’d be better off with a true curve or a slider, and he had no real changeup to speak of in high school.