One of the top performers in the farm system, Sal Stewart, is being promoted from Single-A Daytona to High-A Dayton. The Cincinnati Reds selected Stewart, their #11 prospect, in the 1st round (32nd overall) in last year’s draft.

After spending a few weeks in Arizona with the complex league club in 2022 and playing in just eight games before the season came to an end, the Reds assigned Sal Stewart to Daytona to start the 2023 season. The third baseman got out to a slow start, hitting .216/.358/.266 in the first two months of the season. He walked 31 times and had just 25 strikeouts in 173 plate appearances during April and May, but he also had a ground ball rate of 61% during those months and it was limiting both his hits and his power.

But he began to make some changes and when June rolled around he began to hit the ball in the air and his ground ball rate since June 1st has been 40% and with fewer balls on the ground his numbers have skyrocketed. In 50 games with Daytona since the start of June, Stewart has hit .307/.421/.542 with 15 doubles, 9 home runs, 35 walks, and 34 strikeouts in 216 plate appearances.

While his batted ball profile has changed in a big way, his plate discipline hasn’t. He’s walking at an elite rate despite being just 19-years-old. He’s also making contact at a high rate – he’s striking out in just 15.7% of his plate appearances during this stretch (it was 14.5% in April and May).

The big time production over the last 10 weeks has boosted Sal Stewart’s line to .269/.395/.424 on the year. His OPS is 11th best in the league (and third on the Tortugas behind Carlos Jorge and Hector Rodriguez). Stewart’s on-base percentage is 5th in the league, as are his 66 walks.

At this point we do not know what the corresponding moves are to replace Stewart in Daytona or who is being moved in Dayton on their roster. But we do know that Stewart’s moving up and that he’s been on an absolute tear for the last 10 weeks in Daytona.

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21 Responses

  1. James K

    One advantage is that both Stewart and Collier can play third base every day, instead of alternating 3B and DH.

  2. Doc

    Imagine what WDLC would be like with these BB and K rates!

  3. Hanawi

    Collier needs to emulate whatever Stewart did because hitting too many ground balls seems to be his issue as well.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    Stewart is showing he could climb the rankings in next years. As I remember he always was scouted as a high-skill hitter when the Reds drafted him. I don’t have many info about his defensive skills but i think he’s been at least average defender…The big advantage is his youth, just 19 years old…

  5. JC

    Hope that Collier and/or Stewart can continue to develop and keep the pipeline of young talent coming up to the Reds. Will be important in 4-5 years when some of the current guys start getting expensive. Don’t see ownership opening the purse strings a whole lot in the future.

    • Melvin

      That’s exactly why Krall did not want to trade away any prospects. They will be needed to replace the current players in a few years.

  6. Tim

    The MLB team needs to take a page from the, “How Not to Hit Ground Balls” playbook.

  7. wolfcycle

    from what I remember he spent a lot of effort on his conditioning in off season. Looks like it is starting to pay off

  8. Fred Johnson

    Bailey, Cueto, Votto, Moose( that was a mistake but still… ), Nick C. The Reds have spent when it seemed to be warranted. If Aristedes was signed after three months we’d all be complaining. Luis C was a miss but Homer is signed. More to come. Another big year from the Bengals and the Reds will have to keep pace.

  9. Optimist

    BB/K ratio, OBP – very impressive. The groundball/flyball issue seems to be coachable/adjustable.

    This will be very exciting if Collier, Duno, and this year’s picks keep to this pattern.

    • DaveCT

      I’m pretty sure Sal was rated 5th of high schoolers pre-draft in hit tool, behind Collier at third (BA).

      • Optimist

        I recall that as well – still, a year into professional baseball and he’s showing it. Collier and Duno also, Collier not quite as much yet, and Duno just a very small sample size. Cabrera the other 18 yr. old beginning to come on strong after about a season worth of stats.

      • Old Big Ed

        Collier was a junior college player in his draft year. He pulled a Bryce Harper and enrolled in juco I think two years early, and this year would have been his senior year in high school. Collier is still (and likely always will be) a year younger than Sal Stewart.

        There were concerns, if I recall correctly, that Stewart wasn’t as athletic as you would want. I haven’t actually seen much of him, but I understand that he really improved on that with his off-season conditioning.

        Gotta love both Stewart and Collier.

    • Old Big Ed

      That moves Callahan out of Stewart’s way at third base. Callahan has shown some flashes but can be streaky. He has some swing and miss to work on, but he is only 22 and his power can still develop.

    • DaveCT

      Wonder how much Northcut will sit. Can’t see him taking at bats from McGarry, unless McGarry is going back up to Louisville.

    • DaveCT

      Callahan has 34 doubles this year with 7
      homers. He just turned 22 years old so I’m wondering if the old adage that some of those doubles will turn into home runs will be true of him. Looks like a K rate of almost 32% so I may be answering my own question, in part at least.

  10. AMDG

    Stewart seems reminiscent of Jessie Winker as 19-year-olds.

    Both were late 1st round picks who seemed to have an advanced approach at the plate. Both drew a lot of walks, didn’t strike out a ton, and hit well.

    Unfortunately for Winker, a couple years ago he seemed he got away from who he was, and became convinced he was a power hitter. He began to hit a lot more fly balls, but at the expense of his exit velocity dropping, and his batting average plummeting.

    Hopefully Stewart can keep producing, and stay true to what he does well.