Christin Stewart rode his big bat from the University of Tennessee to the Minor Leagues and Detroit's No. 10 prospect went on to knock 58 homers in his first two full professional seasons. But Stewart has taken his power hitting to another level as of late as he sits a step
Christin Stewart rode his big bat from the University of Tennessee to the Minor Leagues and Detroit's No. 10 prospect went on to knock 58 homers in his first two full professional seasons.
But Stewart has taken his power hitting to another level as of late as he sits a step away from his Major League dream.
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Stewart knocked two of Triple-A Toledo's six long balls for his first multi-homer game of the season in Sunday's 10-4 victory over Louisville at Louisville Slugger Field. The 2015 first-round pick has gone yard five times in his last seven games and leads the International League with 11.
The hot streak follows a slow start to the season for Stewart, who had a .200/.338/.345 slash line 16 games into 2018. Back in April, Toledo hitting coach Brian Harper said the 24-year-old just wasn't finding the right holes and that he would soon find his form of a year ago. In 2017, Stewart led Double-A hitters with 28 homers.
"He's got a great makeup, he's a really good kid," Harper said. "He comes to the ballpark and doesn't really get high or low. He just has a really steady makeup. What I've seen and what I think is a real key in successful big league hitters is that he doesn't let failure or not getting hits affect him. He stays the same whether he gets hits or not."
The Mud Hens' designated hitter wasted no time Sunday, knocking his first solo homer in the second at-bat of the game to right field. After grounding out in the third and flying to left in the fourth, Stewart followed the second solo shot of the game by teammate Ronny Rodríguez in the sixth with another blast to right. He struck out in the seventh.
Less than a month after his cool start, Stewart has lifted his slash line to .304/.378/.648, with his slugging percentage ranking fourth in Triple-A. At his best, Toledo manager Doug Mientkiewicz hinted that the sky is the limit at the plate for Stewart. He's on pace to surpass 40 homers this season -- assuming he spends the entire season with the Mud Hens.
"He doesn't chase pitches in the way big league hitters don't chase," Mienkiewicz told The Toledo Blade. "He could hit in the big leagues right now. He doesn't chase down. He does chase some balls that are up, but a lot of hitters do. And when he does hit the ball, it carries."
Chad Huffman and Jason Krizan also homered as Toledo fell one short of its modern-day record, accomplished most recently by Michael Hollimon, Nick Trzesniak, Timo Perez and Freddy Guzman on May 18, 2008 at Columbus. Hollimon, Trzesniak and Perez each belted a pair in that game.
The Mud Hens lead the IL with 38 homers, three more than Durham.
A.J. Ladwig got the win in relief, limiting Louisville to two runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
Brandon Dixon went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored for the Bats. Reds No. 24 prospect José López (0-4) took the loss after surrendering five runs on five hits, including three homers, over 4 1/3 frames. He walked four and fanned four.
Nathan Brown is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @NathanBrownNYC.