Stewart strikes out eight in Appy debut

Twins first-rounder hurls four shutout frames for Elizabethton

By Josh Jackson / | August 20, 2013 9:56 PM ET

Things were less than ideal for Kohl Stewart in his Appalachian League debut.

"I didn't really have the fastball command I wanted early in the game, so I ended up throwing a lot of pitches," he said. "I got a feel for my changeup and slider only toward the end. And I didn't have a curveball tonight."

Other than that?

"I felt good." 

The Twins' No. 4 prospect dominated anyway. He collected eight strikeouts over four innings, giving up a hit and a walk in Rookie-level Elizabethton's 10-8 win over Greeneville on Tuesday.

"Stuart Turner, the catcher, was calling a great game. Whatever he wanted, whatever he put down, I just stuck to that," Stewart said. "The more I threw, the more I had a feel for my pitches."

Stewart, who was a standout quarterback at Houston's St. Pius X High School and had committed to Texas A&M before being drafted by Minnesota with the fourth overall pick, posted a 1.69 ERA over six appearances -- three of them starts -- with the Gulf Coast League Twins. He made his last appearance there on Aug. 15.

"I've been here a couple days, and the guys have been pretty good to me," he said. "I felt comfortable right away. I just treated it like every other start -- in high school I threw a lot of night games -- so I did my usual routine."

The 18-year-old right-hander surrendered a two-out single to Brian Holberton in the opening frame.

"I started getting behind guys. I took [Holberton] full, and I wanted to throw a change, but I really didn't want to walk anybody," Stewart said. "Instead I left a fastball in the middle of the plate, and he did what he's supposed to do with it. I refocused on the next guy and went right after him."

The result was his first strikeout. Stewart threw a 1-2-3 second and fanned the first two hitters of the third. Stewart then hit the Astros' Tanner Mathis, and then walked Marc Wik.

"The guy that got hit was standing over the plate. We had a plan to go in on hitters, especially on lefties," Stewart said. "It wasn't that bad of a pitch that hit him. It kind of knicked him on the elbow. I got flustered -- I was a little upset. We were able to get out of it, though. Stuart calmed me down [after the walk]."

He induced a lineout to right field from Holberton to strand the runners and then struck out the side in the fourth.

"That was when I started to be able to feel my slider, stretch the plate out a little bit," he said. "Stuart and I are starting to get more comfortable too. It was definitely good to end it like that."

Turner, Minnesota's third-round pick this year, homered and drove in three runs. Bryan Haar was a triple shy of the cycle and had three RBIs.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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