Kohl Stewart is awesome for many reasons, and the fact he was the first prep player taken in Thursday's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is just one of them.
The Twins selected Stewart with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. He followed Stanford University right-hander Mark Appel (Astros), University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant (Cubs) and University of Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray (Rockies), and went one slot ahead of Loganville (Ga.) High outfielder Clint Frazier (Indians).
But the MLB draft was really the culmination of almost a decade of athletic dominance by Stewart in sports-crazed Texas, even if his 125 family members and friends couldn't watch it on TV because rain and hail caused a whiteout on the satellite TV at their Houston-area draft party, according to a Houston Chronicle story on Stewart's big day.
Yes, Stewart owned a 5-1 record with a 0.18 ERA this past season, leading the Panthers (24-13) to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools title game. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder struck out nearly 1.5 batters per inning (59 strikeouts in 40 innings). Oh, and he batted .384 with 10 home runs, 20 runs scored, 34 RBI and a .779 slugging percentage, capturing Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year honors. Not bad.
Yes, he's drawing comparisons to another stud right-handed prep pitcher from Texas. “Kohl Stewart is a phenomenal young player,” Texas Baseball Coaches Association president Tom Collins told USA Today. “Most of the coaches I’ve talked to say he is comparable to a young Josh Beckett. He has a very bright future ahead of him.”
And yes, he led the Banditos Baseball club's under-13 team to 155 straight victories as a youth, according to the Chronicle. Read that again: 155 straight victories.
But Stewart is from Texas, and prep football reigns supreme in the Lone Star State.
"Football has taken rank over baseball," Stewart told the Houston Chronicle, "especially in high school, because of football being so demanding and it’s such a big deal down here in Texas, but I look forward to being able to sit down and working on baseball for once. I’ve never been able to do that." This is the best prep pitcher in the nation talking.
Of course, Stewart wasn't so bad at football, either. He threw for almost 9,000 yards and 90 touchdowns in three years as a starter for St. Pius X, earning the Touchdown Club's Offensive Player of the Year award among private school student-athletes.
In fact, Stewart was so good that he was slated to serve as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel's understudy at Texas A&M. Heck, Johnny Football even reached out to the 18-year-old with the golden arm via Twitter.
Congrats to my dude @kohlstewart1 for getting drafted 4th overall in the MLB draft that's big time!!
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) June 6, 2013
Except, Stewart's father Mark made it clear his son isn't A&M-bound, telling the Houston Chronicle, "You don't get drafted fourth and not go. It's a once-in-a-lifetime offer." You know you're pretty good when you make Johnny Football look like an amateur.