Braves select Carter Stewart with first round pick

The Atlanta Braves got their portion of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft started by selecting Florida high school right-hander Carter Stewart.

Stewart, 18, is a 6-foot-6 hurler out of Eau Gallie High School. He was committed to Mississippi State, but will instead begin his pro career with Atlanta.

He has power pitcher’s arsenal, boasting a fastball that climb into the high-90s and features a classic 12-6 curve ball that has been missing bats with great regularity in his high school career.

Now he joins perhaps the most talented collection of arms in baseball and an organization that has been known for its outstanding pitching over the years.

His journey truly began on draft night in Secaucus, New Jersey.

“For about a week or so now, I’ve felt like the Braves were definitely a high possibility,” said Stewart. “Whenever they called my name it was definitely a surreal feeling. It was really exciting.”

Braves scouting director Brian Bridges and company were pleased to add another high-end arm to the stable, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three years. Bridges believes the addition of Stewart continues Atlanta’s dedication to rebuilding the franchise on pitching and defense.

“To me, he definitely has the best curveball in the draft,” said Bridges. “He came along as far as development-wise from August and the East Coast Showcase. The curveball was always there, but the fastball was 88-92, so the average of the fastball was on the rise as the kid really did some filling out, maturity-wise with his body.”

Stewart is a somewhat rare pitcher who relies on the old-fashioned curveball over the slider.  He said that is by design and a choice made for all the right reasons.

“I thought it was a better pitch,” Stewart said of the curve. “I threw a slider when I was younger, and I just thought that the curveball broke more and was more comfortable to throw. It worked really well, and I just stuck with it.”

A power pitcher with a dynamic breaking ball, Stewart has patterned himself after one of the best in this generation. When asked what pitcher has influenced his style, he had a quick and easy answer.

“I like to model myself after Justin Verlander a little bit, with his intensity and his ability to pitch,” said Stewart. “I’ve watched him for a long time and I feel like that’s one guy I can definitely model myself after.”

Even before this pick, the Braves boast one of the deepest groups of pitching prospects in the majors and have leaned heavily on pitching with their first round selections in recent years.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that Atlanta has gone pitching first in the draft. Vanderbilt righty Kyle Wright was the No. 5 overall pick in 2017, but that was a pick that followed two years of high school arms.

Atlanta selected righty Ian Anderson with the No. 3 overall pick in 2016 and supplemented him with fellow prep arms Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller. Those three men came just one year after the Braves took lefty Kolby Allard at No. 14 and righty Mike Soroka at No. 28 in 2015.

The Braves hope that Stewart will slot into that group as he begins his trek to the majors.

“He’s probably right in the middle of those guys,” said Bridges. “You know, it’s kind of hard to tell. We’ve been fortunate as an organization and scouting department to select Braves-type pitchers, Braves-type players, Braves-type kids.”

“We feel he fits right into that spectrum at some point. He definitely as an out-pitch, but they’re all different in their own way. Kolby had the plus-curveball, Soroka is Soroka and Ian had the good curveball. So, we feel like this is a power pitcher and we’ve added another one to the group we already have.”

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