Right-hander Carter Stewart, who was selected out of high school by the Braves as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 Draft but did not sign, has reached an agreement on a contract for more than $4 million with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, according
Right-hander Carter Stewart, who was selected out of high school by the Braves as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 Draft but did not sign, has reached an agreement on a contract for more than $4 million with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, according to a baseball source.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, who first reported the deal, says Stewart was believed to be seeking $7 million.
Stewart, 19, and the Braves were unable to reach a deal after concerns over a wrist injury the 6-foot-6 righty had dealt with before last year’s Draft. The assigned value for the No. 8 pick was $4,980,700, but Atlanta reduced its offer to $1,992,280 (40 percent of the slot value, the minimum required to receive a compensation pick if he didn't sign) after his post-Draft physical.
Stewart's deal with Fukuoka would put him in the upper half of the first round of this year's Draft, in terms of the assigned pick values. The 14th overall pick has an assigned value of $4,036,800.
A native of Eau Gallie, Fla., Stewart had committed to Mississippi State, but changed course and headed to Eastern Florida State Junior College, which enabled him to be eligible for this year's Draft. He is currently ranked No. 59 among Draft prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Stewart is represented by agent Scott Boras, who has floated the idea of sending his high-profile Draft clients to play in Japan in the past, but has never had one agree to a deal there.
In 1991, Boras said that Brien Taylor, the No. 1 overall pick in that year's Draft, was considering going to Japan. Taylor eventually signed with the Yankees for $1.55 million, which was nearly three times the record for a signing bonus at the time. In 2009, Boras suggested that Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals' No. 1 overall pick, could explore the possibility of signing in Japan. Strasburg ended up getting just over $15.1 million in guaranteed money from Washington, easily topping the previous record of $10.5 million awarded to Mark Prior in 2001.
However, teams did not take the Taylor or Strasburg threats seriously. Taylor set the bonus record because he was arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in Draft history and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner didn't want to give him a big league contract that would have made it necessary to protect him from the upcoming expansion draft. Strasburg set a still-standing record for a guarantee and a since-broken mark for an up-front bonus ($7.5 million) because he still is considered the best pitching prospect and the most predetermined No. 1 overall pick in 55 years of the Draft.
Stewart recently finished his freshman season for Eastern Florida State, going 2-2 with a 1.70 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings for the Titans. His ERA was good for 14th-best in the National Junior College Athletic Association while his strikeout total was seventh-best in the nation.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.