Exit velo: 108 MPH— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) September 11, 2020
Distance: 415 feet
Launch angle: 32 degrees
DJ Stewart was one of the best Seminoles to ever step on the diamond at Dick Howser Stadium. In his time at FSU, Stewart was one of the most consistent hitters in the nation. In all three years in Tallahassee, Stewart was named a first or second team All-American and hit at least .318. His consistency and sweet lefty swing led to a first round selection in the 2015 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2018, Stewart reached the MLB and put up decent numbers in 17 games. The Florida native posted a .890 OPS in the short sample. The next season, he struggled, as the OPS dropped to .698 in 44 games. This season, Stewart got off to a slow start, going hitless in his first 14 AB’s, which led to being sent down to the alternate training site in this short season.
Stewart was sent down for a month, where he found something in his game and swing, and it’s finally started clicking for the OF since getting recalled on August 4th.
Through six games and 16 at-bats this month, Stewart has five homers (all in the last four games), eight hits, and a 1.438 slugging percentage. It’s been a small sample size, but a few statistics show where the hot streak has come from.
The former ‘Nole has gotten back to what made him great at Florida State: patience and plate discipline.
While at FSU, Stewart posted a .481 OBP with 147 walks in 177 games. In 2018, Stewart posted a Chase percentage of 25.7%, before 22.6% in 2019. This season, Stewart’s chase rate is down to just 13.8%. He’s swinging at better pitches, which has given him a chance to open up his power.
That ball had Eutaw Street written aaaaaalllll over it. pic.twitter.com/dWXgsZfya7— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) September 6, 2020
Stewart’s slugging percentage dropped more than 150 points from 2018 to 2019. His average launch angle also dropped four degrees. This year his average launch angle is as high as ever, at 17.9 degrees. That launch angle has allowed him to get the ball in the air and show off his pop that generated 15 homers in his junior year at FSU. His fly ball percentage is up 19% since last season.
Since being recalled, Stewart has put 10 balls in fair territory. Half of those swings have resulted in exit velocities of at least 105 MPH. Only three have had exit velocities below 98 MPH.
Quite possibly the hottest hitter on the planet. pic.twitter.com/2Aq4Vk6BrI— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) September 8, 2020
All these numbers are a small sample size, but the vast improvements have shown the adjustments he’s made. If he continues to keep his chase rate down, his sweet lefty swing will continue to produce numbers in the big leagues.