Age: 24 years old. Height: 6’2″ 205 lbs
Born: September 28th, 1986 in Wichita Falls, Texas
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School Team: Holliday HS, in Holliday Texas
College: Texas Tech
Drafted: by the Reds in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft
The jewel of the Scott Rolen trade to the Reds in 2009, Zach Stewart was initially thought of as a future MLB closer. However, his role was never truly defined and he received little feedback from then GM J.P. Ricciardi and Jays management.
After Alex Anthopolous took over as GM, he proceeded on a campaign to outline goals and expectations for everyone in the organization. Even going so far to ask certain players in limbo, like Stewart, what they saw their future contributions to be.
This was a pleasant turn of events for many in the organization, particularly Stewart, and a total sea change in overall philosophy from the previous regime.
Blessed with a hard, biting slider that has broken more than a few ankles, Stewart also has a fastball that tops off at 96 mph with good late movement. However, its his lack of a reliable changeup (a must for any Blue Jay pitcher in Alex Anthopolous' organization) that has kept him from graduating.
After getting beat up in the first half of 2010 while pitching for the AA New Hampshire FisherCats, Jays management stuck with Stewart and he responded with a stellar second half. By the end of the season he was second only to Kyle Drabek in every major pitching stat with an 8-3 record and a 3.63 ERA to go along with 106 K's in 136.1 innings.
Incidentally, that represented the lowest K/9 rate of Stewart's career. The main difference this time was his development of an adequate changeup that he worked his tail off to master. He's no longer relying on his ability to miss bats as he becomes a more mature, complete pitcher.
2011 will be the defining season for Zach Stewart's career. Can he develop in to a top starter like Brandon Morrow (who's career trajectory he eerily resembles) or will he return to the pen?
Regardless, Zach Stewart will be a major league pitcher.
Projected Arrival: 2011 September call-up. Permanent member of Jays staff by 2012.