Tigers' Christin Stewart takes step, wants to eventually reach majors

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press
“I’m not trying to hit a home run,” says Christin Stewart, who nonetheless had 13 homers and 31 RBIs in 41 games.

PEORIA, Ariz. – Christin Stewart didn’t play football in high school.

But at first glance, the Tigers’ outfield prospect looks like he does his work on the gridiron and not the diamond. Stewart, playing this fall with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, is a muscled-up 6 feet and 200 pounds.

And after a very successful first full pro season is done in a week, he’ll take a month off before returning to the weight room with his sights set on earning an invitation to major league camp next spring.

“I enjoy it,” he said about lifting. “You have to. It helps me get through the season. It helps me feel strong, and it helps me bat. I feel like I still have barrel control this late in the season, and I feel like I still have my bat speed, so it’s great. I love being in there, I love getting some work and getting a little sweat in.”

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After hitting .255 with 30 home runs and 87 RBIs between Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie this past season, Stewart is hitting .255 with one home run among five extra-base hits this fall.

“This fall has been pretty awesome,” said Stewart, who turns 23 on Dec. 10. “To actually experience it in my first season, it’s been a great experience. I’m real blessed to be here to perform and have a little bit of success here, so it’s been awesome, and it gives you a little bit of confidence.”

In all likelihood, Stewart — taken late in Round 1 of the 2015 draft out of Tennessee — is a ways away from the big leagues. He still strikes out plenty and doesn’t profile to hit for average, but his power is tantalizing, and the Tigers would be well-served to see how he performs for a full season at Erie.

After adjusting to the professional grind, he said this off-season’s focus will be balancing rest and work, which is sometimes hard to do.

“It’s hard after being here for a while and playing,” Stewart said. “Once you get home after two weeks, you feel like you need to start doing something because you feel kind of jittery just sitting around. I’ll probably stick to the same routine I did last year.”

Which means a weight-training program when retreating to Knoxville, Tenn., will be on the agenda. But first and foremost is honing his swing.

“Just maintaining it,” he said. “Maintaining my swing and just making sure that I’m taking small steps, with just enough swinging.”

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