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View Full Version : Zach Stewart - Starting Pitcher?



OnBaseMachine
05-23-2009, 01:23 AM
As you all probably know by now, Zach Stewart made his Double-A debut tonight and pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only five hits, while walking two batters and striking out eight. He also posted an eye-popping 11 GO/0 FO ratio. That's a very impressive debut. This comes after he posted a 2.32 ERA, 8 BB/32 K, and 2.42 GO/FO in 42.1 innings (seven starts) with High-A Sarasota.

I think the original plan for Stewart was to use him as a starter in order to develop his secondary stuff quicker. But after the way he's pitched in the starting role, I think the Reds have to think of him as a starter now. He has the stuff for it. According to Doug, Stewart's fastball was consistently at 91-94 and was touching 95/96. The announcer was constantly praising his slider, saying it has amazing break. Stewart also mixed in a changeup later in the game and picked up a few strikeouts with it. With two plus pitches and another pitch that is coming along nicely, I see no reason why Stewart can't handle a starting role. So far, durability doesn't seem to be a problem as he was reportedly still throwing with the same velocity late in the game tonight.

Homer Bailey and Juan Carlos Sulbaran (and Kyle Lotzkar if he can stay healthy) are probably the only pitchers in the Reds minors with top-of-rotation stuff. We may be able to add Stewart to that list if he keeps pitching like this.

dougdirt
05-23-2009, 01:33 AM
Maybe its just me, but I put Stewart well ahead of Sulbaran. Stewarts fastball and slider are VERY good pitches. He can hold his velocity into the 7th inning and get strikes on his slider when guys aren't swinging and is a HUGE groundball guy. Zach Stewart is a Top 5 prospect in the system right now until I hear he isn't a starter from the Reds.

GIDP
05-23-2009, 01:45 AM
I havent watched much of Stewart but what type of mechanics are we looking at? Any warning signs in his delivery?

GIDP
05-23-2009, 01:47 AM
Also just going off that hes got 2 outstanding pitches I think we should try to start him at every level. Those 2 pitches arent going away and are very strong for a reliever in general. Let him develop that change and see where it takes him.

fearofpopvol1
05-23-2009, 03:35 AM
http://timesfreepress.com/news/2009/may/23/stewart-shuts-down-lookouts/

anyway, not totally sold yet. this was a great debut, but it is only 1 game. his K/9 ratio in High A ball wasn't eye-popping or anything. He's still young though and I think he does have a useful roll with the Reds. Just not totally sold on him being a starter, but maybe he will be. It'd be great if he were.

icehole3
05-23-2009, 05:44 AM
we have the best coach in the business to teach him the changeup

medford
05-23-2009, 09:05 AM
Paging Mr Soto, Mr Mario Soto, please report to Carolina to tighten up Stewart's chaneup and make him a legit #1/#2 starter threat in the majors. Thankyou.

reports sound good, and if his slider/fastball combo is solid and his changeup is developing, you've got to figure Soto will work a bit with him to tighten that up at some point. Give the kid 3+ pitches and we're onto something special.

mace
05-23-2009, 11:02 AM
I don't know the answer to this, so it's not a leading question . . . but how many pitches does Brandon Webb throw? Derek Lowe? I do know that Bob Gibson was just fastball-slider at least 95 percent of the time. It just seems that if the two pitches are good enough, they're good enough -- particularly for a ground-ball pitcher. Not that I wouldn't like to see Stewart develop his change; of course I would. I'm just not sure it's a prerequisite for being a starter in the big leagues.

Betterread
05-23-2009, 12:14 PM
I don't know the answer to this, so it's not a leading question . . . but how many pitches does Brandon Webb throw? Derek Lowe? I do know that Bob Gibson was just fastball-slider at least 95 percent of the time. It just seems that if the two pitches are good enough, they're good enough -- particularly for a ground-ball pitcher. Not that I wouldn't like to see Stewart develop his change; of course I would. I'm just not sure it's a prerequisite for being a starter in the big leagues.
I would say its a pre-requisite to have an off-speed pitch to be a starter in the majors, and you need to throw it with the same motion as your fastball(see Travis Wood for exhibit A). You need to mess with batters' timing. They are too good at the majors if they can anticipate the timing of the ball crossing the plate.
However, you don't need a changeup as much for relief. Batters don't get mutiple looks at a relief pitcher in a game so the changeup isn't as important. If Stewart learns to throw a deceptive changeup, then he will be considered a starting pitching prospect.

OnBaseMachine
05-23-2009, 12:35 PM
http://timesfreepress.com/news/2009/may/23/stewart-shuts-down-lookouts/

anyway, not totally sold yet. this was a great debut, but it is only 1 game. his K/9 ratio in High A ball wasn't eye-popping or anything. He's still young though and I think he does have a useful roll with the Reds. Just not totally sold on him being a starter, but maybe he will be. It'd be great if he were.

Stewart was just adjusting to becoming a starter. In his first few starts, he gave up a ton of hits and wasn't racking up strikeouts but he continued to get better and better with each start. Now the hit totals are starting to decrease and the strikeouts are increasing.

mth123
05-23-2009, 12:35 PM
I'm encouraged by Stewart, but if he's going to be a starter it may take a while. He only threw 80 innings last year and probably should top out at 110 or so in 2009. That means 140 in 2010 and 170 in 2011. I wouldn't let him start in the big leagues until he completed that progression. With Burton struggling, Weathers aging and not signed beyond 2009 and Cordero an expensive piece who has a no trade that expires after the season, maybe Stewart could best help the Reds as a late inning guy for 2010. After the season the Reds should be shopping Cordero and trying to reinvest that money into Votto, Volquez, Cueto and Bruce as they start to get a little more expensive. I like the Reds minor league bullpen depth, but don't really consider any of Roenicke, Fisher, Viola or Manual a candidate to replace Cordero. Stewart could be the guy with those others pitching in front of him.

schmidty622
05-23-2009, 01:05 PM
What is Stewart's ETA? 2010? 2011? Seems like he may be on a bit faster track.

mth123
05-23-2009, 01:07 PM
What is Stewart's ETA? 2010? 2011? Seems like he may be on a bit faster track.

If he's a starter, no way he's ready before 2011 IMO. As a reliever, he could probably help this year.

GIDP
05-23-2009, 03:07 PM
I dont think bumping a guy from 80 innings to a 120-130 number is that big of a deal. Getting the arm stretched out the rest of the way it the tough part that needs to be taken slow.

I saw his draft preview video and there isnt really any warning signs on his delivery that I can see just from the quick clip. Slight hitch in the elbow but its nothing that really raises a red flag from my POV.

dunner13
05-23-2009, 03:13 PM
I don't know the answer to this, so it's not a leading question . . . but how many pitches does Brandon Webb throw? Derek Lowe? I do know that Bob Gibson was just fastball-slider at least 95 percent of the time. It just seems that if the two pitches are good enough, they're good enough -- particularly for a ground-ball pitcher. Not that I wouldn't like to see Stewart develop his change; of course I would. I'm just not sure it's a prerequisite for being a starter in the big leagues.

Nolan Ryan was fastball/curve most of his career. Towards the end he added a changeup. I think if you have two very good pitches and you know how to pitch and not just throw you can have alot of success with two pitches. Obviously if you have 3 good ones or even 4 thats even better.

LoganBuck
05-23-2009, 03:33 PM
Has Stewart shortened his delivery any? When I saw him at Dayton last year, I came away thinking he was a bigger, better Scott Williamson. Without the extra torque motion that Scott needed, but his breaking ball was in the same category. They tried him as a starter in college, and had to be moved back to the bullpen because of lack of success. Are we dealing with a short sample, bad competition, or a star blooming? He has the stuff, I have seen him DOMINATE A ball hitters out of the bullpen, but I just wonder how it will transition to starting over a season.

dougdirt
05-23-2009, 04:14 PM
Has Stewart shortened his delivery any? When I saw him at Dayton last year, I came away thinking he was a bigger, better Scott Williamson. Without the extra torque motion that Scott needed, but his breaking ball was in the same category. They tried him as a starter in college, and had to be moved back to the bullpen because of lack of success. Are we dealing with a short sample, bad competition, or a star blooming? He has the stuff, I have seen him DOMINATE A ball hitters out of the bullpen, but I just wonder how it will transition to starting over a season.

Stewart was actually a good starter in JC, but struggled in 3 starts at Texas Tech and was put back in the bullpen. While we obviously are working with a small sample size of two months worth of starts here, his time at Texas Tech is even smaller of a sample size.

GIDP
05-23-2009, 04:18 PM
what JC did he go to?

camisadelgolf
05-23-2009, 04:23 PM
what JC did he go to?
http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/S/Zachary-Stewart.shtml
North Central Texas College

Ex-Red farmhand, Calvin Medlock, also went there--but not at the same time.

11larkin11
05-23-2009, 10:25 PM
I think from now on his how we judge Stewart as a starter. He has thrown as many innings now as he did last year in college/A-/A+. From here on, we'll see how his arm holds up.

schmidty622
05-24-2009, 08:46 PM
If Stewart remains a starter does he surpass Bailey as the most heralded arm in the system? From what I’ve read about him he seems to have the stuff and velocity to be successful and has a firm grasp on finer art of pitching. Where does he rank on everyone’s organizational depth chart/rankings?

fearofpopvol1
05-24-2009, 11:28 PM
If Stewart remains a starter does he surpass Bailey as the most heralded arm in the system? From what I’ve read about him he seems to have the stuff and velocity to be successful and has a firm grasp on finer art of pitching. Where does he rank on everyone’s organizational depth chart/rankings?

No, not yet. At this time last year, Thompson was that guy as he was doing extremely well at AA. He has to prove more before he earns that title. Bailey was mowing down guys over a double digit amount of starts at AA when he was annointed that guy.

bucksfan2
05-26-2009, 11:18 AM
Nolan Ryan was fastball/curve most of his career. Towards the end he added a changeup. I think if you have two very good pitches and you know how to pitch and not just throw you can have alot of success with two pitches. Obviously if you have 3 good ones or even 4 thats even better.

My buddy told me the other day that Nolan Ryan, as team president of the Rangers, said the Rangers were doing away with strict pitching limits in the minors. It will be interesting to see how that works out because it goes against most current beliefs and organization philosophies.

Back to Stewart. It will be interesting to see how the org handles his development, especially if they intend on making him a starter. Do they limit his innings and push the MLB timeline back until 2011? Do they allow him to throw more innings? or do they shut him down early? If the Reds think he could be MLB ready by late next season there is a way to limit his innings in the minors by only allowing him to pitch 5 innings per game. They can say hell with the current system and allow him to build up innings the old fashion way.

OnBaseMachine
05-26-2009, 05:22 PM
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus on Zach Stewart:


Stewart might be one of the better sleepers around really. His stuff is pretty impressive.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8947

OnBaseMachine
06-07-2009, 12:51 AM
Another nice start tonight by Stewart. His numbers since his promotion to AA:

23 IP, 15 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 22 K, 2.31 GO/FO, 0.39 ERA.

Combined numbers between Sarasota and Carolina:

65.1 IP, 62 H, 1 HR, 14 BB, 54 K, 2.38 GO/FO, 1.52 ERA

And really, those numbers are a bit deceiving. He gave up a bunch of hits and didn't really strikeout many hitters in his first few starts as he was stretching his arm out, but he has continued to get better with each start. The hits are decreasing and the strikeouts are increasing. He's racking up plenty of groundballs and strikeouts and he's efficient with his pitches. In my opinion, he's the best starting pitching prospect in the Reds system as he just edges out Juan Carlos Sulbaran. With a plus fastball and plus slider and improving changeup, he's got a chance to be top-of-rotation starter, IMO.

Mario-Rijo
06-07-2009, 02:40 AM
Another nice start tonight by Stewart. His numbers since his promotion to AA:

23 IP, 15 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 22 K, 2.31 GO/FO, 0.39 ERA.

Combined numbers between Sarasota and Carolina:

65.1 IP, 62 H, 1 HR, 14 BB, 54 K, 2.38 GO/FO, 1.52 ERA

And really, those numbers are a bit deceiving. He gave up a bunch of hits and didn't really strikeout many hitters in his first few starts as he was stretching his arm out, but he has continued to get better with each start. The hits are decreasing and the strikeouts are increasing. He's racking up plenty of groundballs and strikeouts and he's efficient with his pitches. In my opinion, he's the best starting pitching prospect in the Reds system as he just edges out Juan Carlos Sulbaran. With a plus fastball and plus slider and improving changeup, he's got a chance to be top-of-rotation starter, IMO.

I'd agree I think he is now the best starter prospect we have (and I still consider Homer a prospect). I'd also agree that at this moment JC Sulbaran is #2 Lotzkar could supplant them someday if he could ever get healthy. Obviously that goes for Buck as well. At least until Tuesday evening. :thumbup:

icehole3
06-07-2009, 07:30 AM
after Maloney's start, Im ready to put him a shade behind Sulbaran, I was very impressed with Maloney's changeup because it made his fastball look very fast. I hope Soto's teaching every kid the changeup, its making these guys fastball look very very good.

OnBaseMachine
07-10-2009, 03:50 PM
From a Baseball America chat:

Daniel (Chicago): Is Zach Stewart a SP or a RP long-term? If he's put in the bullpen, could he be a closer?

J.J. Cooper: My guess is he's a starter. He has three pitches and he maintains his velocity. Starters are more valuable than relievers and he's shown he can do both. But then there is the question of whether there will be a spot in the Reds rotation anytime soon. With Bailey showing he may have figured it out, the Reds have Volquez, Bailey, Arroyo, Cueto, Owings and Harang under contract for 2010 already.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/chat/?1247246413

Benihana
07-10-2009, 03:56 PM
From a Baseball America chat:

Daniel (Chicago): Is Zach Stewart a SP or a RP long-term? If he's put in the bullpen, could he be a closer?

J.J. Cooper: My guess is he's a starter. He has three pitches and he maintains his velocity. Starters are more valuable than relievers and he's shown he can do both. But then there is the question of whether there will be a spot in the Reds rotation anytime soon. With Bailey showing he may have figured it out, the Reds have Volquez, Bailey, Arroyo, Cueto, Owings and Harang under contract for 2010 already.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/chat/?1247246413

Along with Wood and hopefully Leake, Stewart should be in the mix for a spot in the 2011 rotation (not 2010.)

I'd like to see him continue to gain experience as a starter in Louisville for the first couple months of next season. Assuming he continues to have success, he would be a good candidate to ease into the majors through the bullpen- perhaps in the 2nd half of 2010. If everything goes to plan, he should be ready for a full-time spot in the Reds rotation by 2011.

Scrap Irony
07-10-2009, 05:56 PM
That would also protect his arm to some extent, Beni. Depending on what happens with Harang and the other major league starters with high price tags, I'd be okay with Stewart as the erstwhile ace (or #2) in AAA or as a middle reliever in the majors for 2010. There are a ton of young middle infielders in Cincinnati's system that need to be sorted out right now, though.

OnBaseMachine
07-13-2009, 07:46 PM
I just finished up reading the Reds midseason report on Baseball America and assistant GM Bob Miller says Stewart was moved back to the bullpen just to keep his innings down. The Reds didn't want him to throw a bunch of innings this season. That just confirms what many of us thought. It sounds like the Reds view him as a starter. Good.

icehole3
07-14-2009, 06:50 AM
something I've said since day 1

OnBaseMachine
07-15-2009, 11:51 AM
Baseball America has a stock up, stock down feature up today and Zach Stewart is listed in the stock up category. It describes his three-pitch mix - a solid changeup, a slider (an out pitch) and a 93-94 fastball with plus sink and bore.