With the draft being much later in the baseball season than it used to be, players don’t tend to get a ton of playing time after they are selected in the summer. That’s exactly what happened for Sal Stewart in 2022 after he was selected 32nd overall in the 1st round by the Cincinnati Reds. He played in just eight games for the complex league team out in Arizona before the season came to a close.

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When the 2023 season was ready to begin the Reds sent Sal Stewart to join Single-A Daytona in the Florida State League. He got out to a hot start in the first week of the year, going 8-23 with three extra-base hits and seven walks with just four strikeouts. But he went into a slump over the next six weeks through the end of the month of May. In those 32 games he hit just .182 and slugged just .200, picking up two extra-base hits in that stretch.

His groundball rate was very high during the first two months of the season, but Stewart worked to lift the ball more and that began to pay off. He went on a tear in June, hitting .337/.406/.584 and hit five home runs to go along with seven doubles – topping the four doubles and one home run he hit in the first two months of the season.

Stewart carried that forward over the next five weeks. From July 1st through August 6th he would hit .281/.439/.506 for the Tortugas with eight more doubles and four more home runs. He would also walk 24 times with just 15 strikeouts in those 27 game played during that span. Cincinnati’s front office had seen enough and moved him up to High-A to join the Dayton Dragons.

Over the first week-and-a-half with Dayton he hit .333/.432/.389 with as many walks as strikeouts – five. Following that stretch he went into a slump for the next two weeks and went just 8-43 (.186) without an extra-base hit. On September 2nd he busted out of the slump with two hits and two walks against Great Lakes and he didn’t look back the rest of the season (just eight games) as he hit .387/.513/.677 in that span with two times as many walks as strikeouts.

For all 2023 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Sal Stewart Scouting Report

Position: Third Base | B/T: R/R

Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 215 lbs. | Acquired: 1st Round, 2022 Draft | Born: December 7, 2003

Hitting | He has an above-average hit tool.

Power | He has above-average power potential.

Speed | He has below-average speed.

Defense | He’s a fringe-average defender.

Arm | He has a below-average arm.

Sal Stewart showed up this season in better shape than he had been coming out of high school. That resulted in him being a bit more athletic and he showed improved defense as a result of that. With that said, he’s still a guy who is going to need to stay on top of everything with regards to his body and conditioning if he’s going to remain at third base and not have to slide over to first.

At the plate is likely where the future value comes from for Stewart. He’s got a very good approach and understanding of the strikezone. In his career he’s walked more than he’s struck out, and he makes plenty of contact to go with that. He can use the entire field, and he does so often. That helps out his hitting ability, but it may also hold back some of his power potential. Looking at his spray chart below, he went to right field nearly twice as often as he pulled the ball. It’s tough to get to your true power doing that.

With that said, he still showed plenty of pop in 2023 – especially once June began and his changes at the plate began to take hold and he started getting the ball into the air and off of the ground. There’s a chance that he could be a .300 hitter and also hit 20+ home runs. Add in that he could also walk plenty and you’ve got a real threat in the batters box.

Video

Sal Stewart Spray Chart

Interesting Stat on Sal Stewart 

On games player during the week Stewart hit .313/.437/.486. On games played during the weekend he hit just .203/.314/.284.

23 Responses

  1. Greenfield Red

    Another brick in the wall. The Reds have just an incredible amount of talent age 20 or less.

    To me, the “Hit” tool is by far the most important of the 5 tools for an every day player. The inability to understand and execute the strike zone derails more guys than pretty much everything else combined.

    After the addition of two Pitchers via free agency last week, I’d rather the Reds stand pat than trade any of these guys away for a one or two year pitcher.

    I believe the model Tampa Bay is using is one step short of perfection. The last step is to be willing to spend on short term, high AAV if needed, free agents. The Reds can do it. I hope they will.

    They still should add a starter, but free agency is the way to go.

    Just my opinion.

    • MBS

      That’s why the Rays don’t have any rings. They are full of talent, but are unwilling to add the necessary pieces to win it all. We need to spend like the Cards, and develop/acquire like the Rays.

      The Reds have a lot to prove on the development, and acquisition side of things, but things seem to be going in the right direction.

      • 2020ball

        I think just saying theyve never had a ring is doing them injustice. Its an expansion team, a very low payroll and a terrible market, yet theyve still been in the postseason and a strong team. How much a team spends gets talked about too often. Them making the playoffs and making it deep in them counts as a lot of success, the lack of a ring is too easy a thing to harp on.

      • 2020ball

        Obviously a ring is the goal for every team, but its just one team every year. Defining teams based on only that, especially with a lot of luck involved in the playoffs, is an awful way to evaluate teams IMO. Its an ill that plagues many sports fans, i prefer to enjoy my team’s seasons and not place this huge importance on shiny mementos.

    • Optimist

      “To me, the “Hit” tool is by far the most important of the 5 tools for an every day player“

      Yep – for a throwback analysis, how John Kruks could have on defense and contend for the WS? I think 4, certainly 3, and absolutely 2. The offense would be formidable.

    • MK

      Had the opportunity to get to know Rays scout who was scouting at a Dragons game. He told me the key to the Rays success in the development of players is that they have more scouts than other teams and basically out scout everybody, by quantity and quality of scouts. They get the quality young players before they get expensive and can trade them then for obscure players they have scouted.

      • BK

        They also have one of the league’s largest analytics departments, on par with the Dodgers. There’s a reason both teams always have deep farm systems.

    • Stock

      I agree with what you say Greenfield and in fact as you know your posts have swayed my opinion to your side somewhat. Here is what I am hoping.

      The Reds have their sights set squarely on Yamamoto or Snell. Acquire one of these two and finalize their budget for 2024. To get the final piece to compete with the Dodgers and the Braves the Reds should add a final pitcher via trade. Bieber is no good though. Cease is more prospects than the Reds should give up for 2 years of control. Glasnow would be good if cheap (Victor Acosta, Cade Hunter and Jay Allen) but not at a Bowden type offer. What I would love to see the Reds do is deal for Cole Ragans. He comes with 5 years of control so is similar to a prospect in that manner. I think a Ragans for Connor Phillips, Victor Acosta and Stafura would not be too much of a set back prospect wise and you replace a potential future ML SP with a somewhat proven ML SP who can help in 2024 and may turn out to be an Ace.

      • Greenfield Red

        Stock that is high praise coming from you. I appreciate your posts and am interested in your thoughts on most subjects. Same goes for DaveCT, BK, MK, and others (I know I’ll leave someone out). We all just want the Reds to win. I think of MBS and Votto4Life who often disagree with me, but I look for their responses on every subject, and find over time, we’re not that far apart. We all want to enjoy a Reds WS celebration.

        Happy Monday.

      • Old Big Ed

        I’ve heard Ragans being suggested as a target, but I’ve heard no logical explanation of why the Royals would want to trade him with 5 years of control left. Ragans was one of the best pitchers in the AL down the stretch.

        The Royals are not the 1959 Kansas City Royals, who were expected to develop players for trading to the Yankees in return for Mav Throneberry. The Reds are not expected to trade Elly De La Cruz or Graham Ashcraft with 5 years of control, so why should we think that the Royals would trade Ragans?

  2. MK

    Stewart might be the best pure hitting prospect to come through Dayton since Jesse Winker. He can hit and hit for power, just like Jesse.

    • Old Big Ed

      Indeed a reasonable comp.

      Winker at 19 slashed .281/.379/.463 at Low A Dayton, with 76 Ks in 486 PAs. Stewart last season slashed .275/.396/.416, with 77 Ks in 518 PAs, with about a quarter of those PAs at High A Dayton. Stewart was a bit better at drawing walks, but with a bit less power. Similar size, too; neither one is a speed-burner or a defensive whiz.

      For what it’s worth, Joey Votto at age 19 (Billings and Dayton) slashed .278/.406/.398 in 534 PAs with 90 BBs. Votto struck out 144 times that year. The flip side is that Neftali Soto at 19 slashed .340/.362/.558 in 304 PAs, but with only 11 BBs. (Shows what command of the strike zone means in young hitters.)

      Stewart did steal 15 bags in 19 attempts, though. I read somewhere that he made a special effort last off-season to get leaner and faster, which he apparently did, even if it didn’t transform him into Drew Stubbs.

      • MBS

        I’ll take a Winker type, but with a bit more of a serious attitude. I’ve got to admit I wasn’t a fan of this pick, but he put together a fine 1st season.

      • John J

        I will 100% take the blame of not believing in Stewart. I liked other guys instead of him. I will say he took being a processional seriously and got in better shape/ probably a better diet plan.

        Talent is undeniable. I like that they probably will have a log jam or what not in 2025.

        He has a great eye at the plate. good hitting and power he is a prime 3B or 1B canadate.

        I hope the reds start extending the 3 main guys that are under 25 in Marte, Mclain, Elly.

        I think you can get buy with CES, steer, TJ, Benson as they will be 30s when they reach FA, or you could extend to buy out a year or 2 which is unnessary IMO.

        All i am saying is i am very exited. We have the Rays developing system of some kind and got money. perfect combo.

    • RedBB

      More Jay Bruce than Jesse Winker IMO. I think he has a breakout year next year and makes top 100 lists

      • Doug Gray

        Bruce was far more athletic and had more power potential, but nowhere near the same kind of pitch recognition.

    • DaveCT

      Pre-draft scouting had Stewart as top five in the draft for hit tool. He was also noted to have an impressive ability to hit breaking balls. He wasn’t a toolsy or especially popular draft pick especially given his body type and positional future. But this kid can flat out hit (that’s a data driven analytics term).

      • Greenfield Red

        Another guy I don’t want the Reds to trade. Same with Collier. Had an average year in a pitching favored league and was 2+- years younger than average. I think he is poised for a big year.

      • DaveCT

        Greenfield, about the only guys I am ever willing to trade are guys I like who don’t have a clear path remaining with the club, perhaps a TJ Hopkins, or a guy like Joe Boyle who I just don’t see as (and I hate to put it this way) as being worth much more investment.

        If a guy is more of an unknown quantity, I.e., we really don’t know who or what we have in a guy, I prefer to hang onto him. Whereas, if we have a guy whom we are pretty sure we know who and what he is, that’s the kid I consider more for a trade — when we have as clear an idea as possible of his true value.

        So, for me, that might include guys like Hoskins, Mount, maybe Hinds; McGarry, Hendricks, Free, Vellojin, Cerda, maybe Nelson, the AA utility guys (Johnson, Urbaez, Quintana, Torres), Santillan, Roa, Benschoter, Farr; Ibarra, Thompson, Acuna.

        Critics of this approach (those who state to get quality, you have to give up quality) would be correct that these players may not get a top shelf player. But, they may get bullpen help at the deadline, or depth at catcher, or youngster not requiring protection, similar to the Will Benson deal. So they have very good, not great, value.

      • Old Big Ed

        Stewart seems to be one of those guys who doesn’t jump out at you athletically but who apparently has elite eyesight and the proper mindset for hitting. John Kruk is a good example, and perhaps Lance Berkman.

        I am certainly not expecting Stewart to turn into Lance Berkman, who may be the most notorious Reds-Killer of all time. He hit 52 homers against the Reds, 32 of which were in Cincinnati. His next highest total was 39 against the WLBs. He had a career OPS against the Reds of 1.087 — 1.337 at Riverfront and 1.173 at GABP, his 1st and 4th best hitting parks. Berkman’s prime 10 seasons were 2000-09, which was the Camelot era to face Reds’ pitching.

        The Dreaded Ian Happ has a 1.048 against the Reds.

  3. Patrick

    If you can take his hit tool and give it to EDLC you would have a huge monster.
    Poor hit tool has tripped up many toolsy players.
    It is maybe the most overlooked tool by people.