AFL – Ethan Stewart

Ethan Stewart was a 47th round JUCO pick in 2010 out of New Mexico Junior College. This past season was his second full year in Clearwater.  He improved on the numbers he had posted during the 2013 season. However, though improved, his walk rate probably led to the organization’s decision to convert him to a reliever after 16 starts. His 2014 numbers –

  •                G       IP       H     R   ER  HR HB  BB  K    Avg.  WHIP  G/A    ERA   K/9    BB/9   K/BB
  • Start   16    81.2     89    5   44    9      1   53  46  .284   1.74    0.98   4.85   5.10    5.84    0.87
  • Relief  12    21.0     28  11  11    0      0     5  24   .311   1.57    1.11   4.71 10.29  2.14   4.80
  • Total   28  102.2  117  66  55    9      1   58  70  .290   1.70    1.00   4.82   6.14    5.08    1.21

The stats that jump out are the big increase in his K/9 and the big decrease in his BB/9. Even though opponents batting average jumped 27 points to .311, his WHIP saw a 17 point decrease. I watched 10 of Stewart’s starts. It was frustrating to watch him struggle with the strike zone. He pitched better out of the bullpen, but like a lot of the Threshers’ relievers he struggled coming into games with runners on base. He allowed 6 of 11 inherited runners to score for a mere 45.5% Strand Rate.

Stewart was used exclusively in relief in Arizona. He was brought in with inherited runners only once, his first appearance. He successfully stranded all 3 runners and pitched another inning. He entered his next 6 games at the start of an inning, pitching one inning in five of those appearances and two innings in the other appearance. His fall stats breakdown –

  •  G    IP   H  R  ER  HR  HB   BB   K    Avg.  WHIP   G/A   ERA     K/9      BB/9   K/BB    %S
  •   7   8.1  5   8    7     1      1     10   12  .333    1.90    3.00  7.56  12.96   10.80   1.20     55%

Once again, Stewart had difficulty remaining consistent in the strike zone. Although his K/9 approached 13 strikeouts per 9 innings, his walk rate ballooned up to almost 11 per 9 innings.

Stewart threw 170 pitches in his 8.1 innings. This follows another pattern he established in Clearwater, big pitch count innings. He averaged over 20 pitches per inning in 4 of his 7 appearances.  Of those 170 pitches, only 94 were strikes for a 55% strike rate, the lowest among the Phillies’ pitchers who went to Arizona.

Stewart pitched 4 times at Surprise Stadium. That provides a 107 pitch sample.

Gameday indicated that Stewart threw 1 curveball, 2 cutters, 73 fastballs, and 31 sliders. He is essentially a two-pitch pitcher – 68% fastballs and 29% sliders. Unfortunately, the pitch he throws most often is also the pitch he throws for strikes the least. Only 48% of his fastballs were thrown for strikes.

His fastball topped out at 94 mph on one occasion, but 73% of his fastballs were in the 90-92 mph range. But he also gets some up to 93 mph and down to 88-89 mph. Since he throws a lot of fastballs, a lot of his results occur on fastballs. Six of his walks and a hit batter came on fastballs. Four outs, a fielding error, and 2 singles occurred on fastballs. He also got 13 foul balls and 13 called strikes. Ironically, he only got 2 swinging strikes and no strike outs with his fastball.

His 1 curveball was at 80 mph and resulted in a ground out..

His 2 cutters were at 83 mph and resulted in a swinging strike out and a ground ball double.

His 31 sliders were in the 81-85 mph range with one at 80 mph and another at 86 mph. One of his walks came on a slider. None of the 17 strikes he threw with his slider was converted into a base hit. He got 6 swinging strikes, (4 Ks), 5 called strikes (2 Ks), 4 foul balls, a line drive out, and a ground ball out.

Stewart is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year. He needs to throw more strikes, especially with his fastball. If he is truly a two-pitch pitcher, he is probably better suited for the bullpen. His slider looks like a very good out pitch. When I look at the walks, though, I’m reminded of Phillippe Aumont. But, I think you have to protect him. He’s only been pitching out of the ‘pen since July. And those gaudy K/9 numbers are real eye catchers.


4 thoughts on “AFL – Ethan Stewart

  1. He can rack up the Ks in short relief appearances, but not as a starter. The combination of way too many walks, coupled with opponents hitting over .300 against is a fatal combination. He might develop into something, but really seems like Aumont with less stuff.

    1. these are the kind of guys you keep hoping for a breakthrough. it’s not like you have a ton of talent in the minors that he’s holding back

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