Name: Chris Stewart
2010 Level(s): Portland (AAA)
We kick off the Chicken Friars Top 100 Padres Prospects with the oldest player who will appear on the list, 28-year-old Triple-A catcher Chris Stewart, who’s seen a bit of time with the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Chicago White Sox in past years.
Stewart has been in a time-share behind the plate with Dusty Ryan in Portland, but has outperformed Ryan this season.
The catcher’s calling card is his fantastic arm, as he’s gunned down 42% of opposing basestealers this year. He consistently throws out over 40%.
Tall for a catcher at 6’4″, Stewart used to have some issues with passed balls, most notably an embarrassing game with the Yankees where he had trouble handling Phil Hughes and was promptly sent down for the immortal Chad Moeller. He’s cleaned that area of his game up, though, and has just allowed one ball past him this season. He’s cut his passed balls five straight years after allowing 23 in 2005.
Offensively, Stewart’s biggest strength is his ability to put the ball in play–he’s whiffed just 12% of the time this year and has a nice 34/26 K/BB. He’s mainly a singles hitter but will occasionally rip the ball, as he’s hit seven balls out of the park and has 13 doubles and two triples. Stewart lacks leverage in his swing, so he doesn’t get consistent pop despite his large frame. The lack of strikeouts somewhat compensates for that.
At 28, Stewart pretty much is what he is–a tremendous defensive catcher who doesn’t embarrass himself at the plate, but isn’t an offensive asset either. You could certainly do worse at the backup catcher spot, but the Padres currently have two clearly better options in the majors in Nick Hundley and Yorvit Torrealba, the latter of whom is essentially an upgraded version of Stewart. It’s important to have a guy like Stewart around so you don’t wind up with a roster black hole if one of the two MLB catchers goes down. He’s probably around replacement level, and maybe a bit better, particularly if you slot him in largely against lefties, who he’s hit at a .303/.347/.494 clip this year. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially at the game’s thinnest position.
The Chicken Friars 2010 San Diego Padres Top 100 Prospects List