Report: Carter Stewart, Former First-Round Pick, Signs to Play in Japan

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In a surprising turn of events, right-handed pitcher Carter Stewart is reportedly heading to Japan. Stewart was eligible for the 2019 MLB Draft and was rated as the No. 38 prospect for the draft. The terms of his contract are not yet known, but Ken Rosenthal reported the deal is with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League.

Carter Stewart Heading to Japan

Stewart’s journey has already been an intriguing one. He was selected No. 8 overall in 2018 by the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach terms after a wrist injury arose on Stewart’s post-draft physical.

Originally committed to Mississippi State, Stewart elected to attend Eastern Florida State Junior College in order to be eligible for the 2019 draft. Now, instead of entering the draft again, Stewart will head overseas. There are never any guarantees in the draft, and some experts had Stewart sliding down pre-draft rankings after an up-and-down season. Instead of risking his draft position, which would likely play a roll in determining his signing bonus, Stewart apparently decided to sign elsewhere.

The Decision

Though terms of the contract are not yet known, Rosenthal did report that Stewart was seeking $7 million. By comparison, the slot value for the No. 1 overall pick given to the Baltimore Orioles is $8,415,300. Additionally, only the top three picks in this year’s draft have a slot value over $7 million. Once again, anything can happen in a draft, but it was highly unlikely that Stewart would go that high.

What’s Next

While Stewart is moving on to professional baseball and will likely receive a decent contract to play in Japan, his path to Major League Baseball becomes even foggier. Like Rosenthal indicated, Stewart will need the Japanese team he signs with to post his rights at a later date if he wishes to transition to MLB. That is not to say it is impossible as plenty of players have made the jump from Japan to MLB. However, it is unprecedent for a potential first-round pick to bypass the draft and elect to head to Japan.

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