Japan's Hawks to introduce Stewart on Thursday

May 25th, 2019

Nippon Professional Baseball's Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks will announce the signing of right-hander Carter Stewart, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft who declined to sign with the Braves, on Thursday.

Stewart will be introduced as a member of the Hawks at a 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT press conference at the Boras Corporation's Newport Beach, Calif., offices. His representative Scott Boras and Hawks GM Sugihiko Mikasa will join Stewart.

Exact details of Stewart's contract have yet to be revealed. According to a source, the deal has four guaranteed years worth close to $6 million, with an additional two years of options. That would land him in the range of the top six picks in the 2019 MLB Draft, based on assigned pick values. The No. 6 choice, owned by the Padres, has a slot value of $5,742,900.

Upon officially signing with the Hawks, who have won four of the last five NPB championships, Stewart becomes ineligible to be selected in the MLB Draft, which begins June 3.

As a senior at Eau Gallie High (Melbourne, Fla.) last spring, Stewart wowed scouts with off-the-charts spin rates on a curveball ranked as the best in the 2018 Draft. He also reached 98 mph with his fastball and had projection remaining in his 6-foot-6 frame, all of which played into him becoming the first prep right-hander selected last June.

However, Stewart injured his right wrist late in his senior season, and the Braves were concerned by the results of his post-Draft physical. The assigned value for the No. 8 selection 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.

After he turned down the Braves' reduced offer, Stewart switched representation to the Boras Corp. and had the MLB Players Association file a grievance against the club. Atlanta won that grievance in January and held onto the No. 9 overall pick this June it received as compensation for Stewart.

Stewart also decommitted from Mississippi State and opted to attend Eastern Florida State Junior College, making him eligible for the 2019 Draft rather than having to wait until 2021. But he only showed flashes of the stuff that dazzled scouts the year before, often pitching in the low 90s with his fastball while battling the command of his heater and the consistency of his curveball.

After ranking ninth among national juco pitchers with a 1.70 ERA and striking out 108 in 74 1/3 innings this spring, Stewart projected as a second-round choice. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 59 prospect on its new Draft Top 200 Prospects list before removing him after his signing rendered him ineligible.