Warne: Twins very confident they will sign top pick Kohl Stewart
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Ultimately, there was little surprise when the Minnesota Twins opted to go with Texas high school right-handed pitcher Kohl Stewart with the No. 4 pick in the MLB amateur draft on Thursday.
Stewart's selection by the Twins was widely predicted by industry mocks, as pitcher Mark Appel, infielder Kris Bryant, and pitcher Jonathan Gray all went -- as predicted, though perhaps in a different order -- in the top three slots.
Bad weather knocked out satellite TV service in Stewart's hometown of Tomball, Texas, so he didn't find out about the pick until when someone at his pre-draft party pulled up the news on a smart phone.
"It was an unbelievable feeling," Stewart said on a conference call with local Twins reporters. "You work so hard for so long, and something like this happens, it's one of those really relieving feelings of excitement. I really can't explain it to you."
There was some pre-draft talk that Stewart, who went 5-1 with a 0.18 ERA in 40 innings pitched (59 strikeouts) at St. Pius X High School in Texas, would be a tough sign as a dual-sport athlete committed to Texas A&M. However, the Twins are confident that they will work out a deal.
Twins scouting director Deron Johnson echoed that sentiment, noting that the Twins and Stewart's representatives had spoken about parameters of what it would take for him to sign.
"He's signing," Johnson said. "He wants to be a major league baseball player."
Stewart said roughly the same thing, but in slightly different words as a predictably coy, if a bit coached 18-year-old.
"I don't want to say anything and fool anybody," Stewart said. "But I look forward to being a Twin."
Stewart said he would be speaking to the football staff at Texas A&M in the near future.
As the Twins had said in the days leading up to the draft, they went with the best player on the board.
"He just happened to be a high school right-hander," Johnson said. "He was the best prospect left on the board for us."
In terms of what he brings to the mound physically, Stewart has good size -- 6'3'', 205 lbs. -- and has a four-pitch mix in addition to other pitches he tinkers with.
"You hate to compare him to (Roger) Clemens," Johnson said. "But his lower half kind of reminds you of a Clemens-type body. He's got a good, working arm and his delivery is pretty good as well. He's a tremendous, fierce competitor."
Stewart's fastball clocks in around the mid-90s. He also throws a slider and a changeup and recently added a curveball to his repertoire as well. In addition, Stewart said he has tinkered with a sinker.
By all accounts, Stewart has a tremendous work ethic. Johnson noted that Stewart had added 20 pounds of muscle since last summer, and Stewart is insistent that he has plenty to work on and hone as he hopes to move up the Twins organizational ladder.
"I need to work on throwing my slider in to righties," he admitted. "Sometimes I let it get away. I let it spin off too hard and it'll go away to righties."
Stewart also said he's excited to just focus on baseball.
"I don't ever get bored," Stewart remarked. "There's always something for me to be working on. Football has always taken rank over baseball, especially in high school with football being such a big deal down here in Texas."
"I look forward to being able to sit down and focus on baseball, because I've never really been able to do that. I'm definitely looking forward to really focusing on one thing and focusing on it for a long period of time."
But mostly, Stewart is just excited to be a part of the Twins organization.
"I can't wait to see how much the Twins help me, and how much I can grow," he said.