Welcome to the fourth edition of my St. Louis Cardinals’ MLB Draft Preview. If you have not seen the previous three on Chris Betts, Brady Aiken, and Kevin Newman, go ahead and check those out after reading this.
The fourth option I see for the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round is left-handed hitting outfielder D.J. Stewart out of Florida State. Coming in at 6’0″ and 230 pounds, Stewart looks like a shorter Jhonny Peralta or a much shorter Matt Adams.
Offensively, this guy could be a very good player at the big league level. In his three seasons at FSU, he has a slash of .345/.482/.567 25 home runs and 53 doubles while driving in 161. These stats jump off the page and show that he has a real knack for hitting the ball and hitting the ball with authority. He also has shown a really good knowledge of the strike zone with 144 walks in his three seasons – including 66 this year.
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When watching this guy hit, you can see his swing is very smooth and solid. It is a very quick aggressive swing almost reminiscent of Kolten Wong‘s swing. However, like Wong, the swing can be a tad long and too aggressive at times, especially when he is swinging for the fences.
He has a very peculiar stance where he is crouched down, before exploding on the ball. An interesting analysis of this comes from MLB.com’s scouting report on Stewart:
"“He has plus raw power but he doesn’t fully tap into it because he bats from an extreme crouch and has a flat swing. He might hit 20 homers per season if he stands more upright and adds some loft.”"
This is interesting because when you watch him you see a swing that looks volatile; if he could straighten himself out, he may have a bit more balance to his cut. If this does happen, hopefully it’s not something that messes him up. As we’ve seen in the past, odd stances sometimes work out for one reason or another. That being said, a small change could help his approach tremendously.
Looking at the mock drafts, I have not seen many project Stewart going as high as the St. Louis first-round pick at #23 overall. I have seen one mention the Cardinals having the ability to take him with their competitive balance pick, however, I do not see him lasting that long as Stewart’s ability to hit for average and power and get on base via the walk.
“He might hit 20 homers per season if he stands more upright and adds some loft.”
However, there is good chance that he could still be sitting there for the Cardinals in the first round and there’s also the chance someone takes him ahead of the Cardinals due to his strong offensive ability.
Another thing to take into account here is the Cardinals’ relationship with FSU, as they have taken more than a handful of players from the school in the past 10 years including Luke Weaver and James Ramsey, who was sent to Cleveland last season in the Justin Masterson trade.
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He only really projects as a LF/DH but with his bat I am sure he could play first base if needed. His defense isn’t the greatest, but it’s not the worst either. He should project out about the same as someone like Matt Holliday defensively, enough to hold is own out there and not look like Chris Duncan.
In the videos I have watched, he has a decent throwing arm that will further handicap him to LF. Which is not much of a problem for the Cardinals, as Matt Holliday will be likely gone in a few years giving Stewart a few years to develop and become the left fielder of the future in St. Louis.
Overall, I think that this is a good pick for the team. There is a great need for an impact bat in the system, and Stewart being a college bat means that he will likely move through the system much faster than a high school player would.
His offensive upside will be too much to ignore if the likes of Aiken and Betts are off of the board. The team has got to start to try and restock the cupboard and rebuild the system’s offense and D.J. Stewart could be a great start.