MSU signee, MLB first-round pick Stewart doesn't sign with Braves


Carter Stewart

By: 
JOEL COLEMAN
Staff Writer

The Atlanta Braves’ loss might become Mississippi State’s gain and the Bulldogs might suddenly have a pair of first-round Major League Baseball Draft picks on their 2019 roster.

Less than 24 hours after first-rounder J.T. Ginn announced on Thursday that he’ll be coming to MSU instead of signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, fellow Bulldog signee and eighth overall MLB Draft pick Carter Stewart did not come to an agreement with the Braves ahead of Friday’s deadline to sign with the professional team that drafted him. That leaves open the possibility that Stewart could join Ginn at MSU, though that’s not a certainty as Stewart could elect to instead go to junior college so that he’ll be eligible to reenter the draft next year. That wouldn’t be the case should Stewart become a Bulldog.

“I’d like (to) first say thank you to the Braves organization for drafting me,” Stewart posted to Twitter. “That was a special moment for me. I’d like to thank my friends and family for being there for me through this. I have always dreamed of playing professional baseball but now is not the time. Going forward, I do not know what path I will choose but I have never intended to let anyone down. I would like to say thank you to everyone supporting me through this. It’s going to be tough moving forward but this has made me stronger and taught me a lesson.”

A wrist ailment discovered during a post-draft physical exam proved to be concerning enough for the Braves to prohibit them from inking the 6-foot-6, 200-pound pitcher. Atlanta did make an attempt, supposedly offering around $2 million to Stewart according to MLB.com on Friday. However, that’s nearly $3 million less than the slot value of the eighth overall pick, which sat at $4,980,700.

Stewart not agreeing to a deal reopened the chance he could soon wear the maroon and white of MSU. Whether it’s with the Bulldogs or somewhere else, Stewart brings with him loads of potential.
The Eau Gallie (Florida) High School product is best known for a curveball that generates a spin rate of more than 3,000 rotations per minute.

“(Stewart’s) breaking ball was so special,” Atlanta scouting director Brian Bridges told MLB.com immediately after the Braves picked Stewart. “They don’t come along. You always look for that one thing, whether it be a power pitch or a big-time breaking ball. God willing that he stays healthy, it’s the one thing he’ll always have. And you’ll be talking when he makes his debut about that big hammer.”

Stewart’s velocity has also taken a leap. This past spring, his fastball sat between 92 and 94 miles per hour and touched 98.

The question now revolves around whether or not that power heater and big curve will be Starkville bound. In what might be a bit of positive news from MSU’s perspective, Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo reported Friday afternoon that he has heard no conversation regarding Stewart possibly going the junior college route.

Should that be the case and Stewart indeed does come to MSU, he’ll join a club that will have incredibly high expectations next season under first-year head coach Chris Lemonis. It’ll be a team that, in addition to Ginn, will also have a group of returning players that led MSU to the College World Series last season. The Bulldogs will have a lineup anchored by senior Jake Mangum and a pitching rotation likely led by Ethan Small. Both of those players were drafted in the MLB draft themselves last month but have opted to return to Mississippi State.

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