Christin Stewart began 2018 in Minor League camp, without an invitation to Spring Training with the Major League club. He ended the year batting second in the Tigers' lineup for much of the stretch run as a September callup.The 25-year-old outfielder finally had a chance to take it all in
Christin Stewart began 2018 in Minor League camp, without an invitation to Spring Training with the Major League club. He ended the year batting second in the Tigers' lineup for much of the stretch run as a September callup.
The 25-year-old outfielder finally had a chance to take it all in this offseason.
"I reflected a little bit after the season, took a little time to decompress," Stewart said during last week's MLB Rookie Career Development Program. "I just thought back to how far I've come from the Draft in 2015. Made a stop at every single level, even the [Rookie-level] GCL."
Stewart, ranked as the club's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, made all of those stops over his three and a half seasons since the Tigers used their compensation pick at the end of the first round on him in the 2015 MLB Draft. The deliberate path up the club's farm system was a patient approach by the organization to make sure he went through struggles and learned from them at each step, both at the plate and in the field. That included last summer at Triple-A Toledo, where he cooled off from his hot start before experiencing a midseason resurgence.
Stewart looked like a polished, mature hitter when he finally got the call last September, batting .267 (16-for-60) with two home runs, 10 RBIs and nearly as many walks (10) as strikeouts (13).
The first of those hits was a single in his first Major League start Sept. 10 against former Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
"It was pretty cool," Stewart admitted. "That's a guy that I kind of wanted to hit off of, but he was with the Tigers at the time. I never had the chance to face him [in camp]. But hey, my first start, faced him and got a knock, so that's pretty cool."
Stewart also handled left field relatively well, answering some questions about his defense.
"Just looking back on how far I've come, because I didn't really play outfield until I got to college, and that was only three years," Stewart said. "Just everybody with the Tigers, all the rovers, all the coaches that helped me along the way, it's been great."
Now that Stewart has reached the big leagues, with a regular role in left field as his to win in Spring Training next month, he isn't done learning.
"There's a ton of parts to my game I try to get better at each year, each offseason, stuff that I can tweak during the season if it starts feeling any different," Stewart said. "I've made adjustments. I've tried to drop my strikeout rate, get some more walks here and there, even though I've walked a good bit, get my RBIs up, just trying to do all the team stuff, just trying to improve all my offensive game."
The Rookie Career Development Program has been a partnership between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association since 1992, designed to help future Major Leaguers avoid the pitfalls that prevent some from focusing on their game. Players interact with each other and with former big leaguers on such topics as dealing with the media, handling situations in the clubhouse, drugs in baseball, inclusion and financial planning.
No. 30 prospect Spencer Turnbull joined Stewart at the event in Miami, as did No. 10 prospect Willi Castro and No. 11 Dustin Peterson. Turnbull was also a September callup last year, while Peterson and Castro -- both acquired last summer -- head into Spring Training in strong position for in-season callups.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.