Of the franchise-record-tying 31 pitchers the Los Angeles Dodgers used this past season, perhaps none was more unexpected than Brock Stewart. The converted shortstop began the year with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and quickly ascended the Minor League ranks.
While the right-hander certainly pitched well enough to garner a promotion to the Majors, there’s no denying Stewart benefitted from multiple starting pitchers being lost to injury. Stewart struggled in his MLB debut against the Milwaukee Brewers, and endured other bumps throughout the year.
That’s not to say there weren’t any bright moments. Such as when Stewart went toe-to-toe with Jon Lester and held the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs scoreless to go along with a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings.
During a recent appearance on Dodger Talk on AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio with David Vassegh, Stewart expressed satisfaction with his 2016 performance:
“I’d say for the most part it went pretty well. I was happy with how it went, except for a few tough innings, really. But I always examine, ponder and go over the year and individual outings too, so there is always going to be stuff to improve on and stuff to work on. Just getting to think about it and just looking forward to seeing if it pans out and keep improving each day.”
Stewart added he’s continued to work on further developing his secondary pitches:
“I’ve already been working on grips, throwing and just playing catch with everything. I thought it improved towards the end of the year, after that Milwaukee start and think it will keep on improving. My command has never really been a huge issue.”
The 25-year-old went 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA, 1.61 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 28 innings in seven games (five starts) for Los Angeles. Stewart was a combined 9-4 with a 1.79 ERA in 21 Minor League starts, including 4-0 with a 2.49 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
In September, the Dodgers named Stewart the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year. How much longer he remains with the organization is uncertain as the Dodgers are believed to be in discussion to trade for Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.
Along with Jose De Leon, the Twins reportedly have interest in Stewart. But should Stewart remain with the Dodgers, he figures to begin 2017 with Oklahoma City and again be among the first calls when the big league team needs a starter.