Big Leaguers Courting BC's Champ Stuart – Brevard NC
According to Brevard College Baseball Coach Matt McCay, “Champ Stuart may well be the most talented baseball player to come out of Brevard since Gil Coan in the 1940s, and scouts tell me that he’s almost sure to go in the early rounds of the draft.”
If coach McCay’s information proves to be accurate, it means that Stuart will be the highest drafted baseball player in the history of the South Atlantic Conference, no small honor.
The annual major league baseball draft begins today, and runs through June 8, and is being broadcast live on the MLB Network. Each big league team gets one selection per round in reverse order of the team’s standings at the end of the 2012 season.
On paper, Champ Stuart has all of the tools to make it as a major leaguer. In this, his junior season at Brevard College, he led the Tornados in home runs, led the conference in batting and successfully stole 39 bases in 42 attempts with his special brand of daring base running and blinding speed.
“He would have stolen 40, but a shoestring broke halfway through one attempt,” coach McCay said, chuckling to himself.
It’s that almost unbelievable speed that most impresses Major League scouts. In football, speed is measured in 40-yard dashes. In baseball, speed is measured from second base to home plate.
“Any time under 7 seconds is considered fast,” McCay said. “A time of 6.6 seconds is considered very fast. Champ has been clocked at 6.14. You can imagine the scouts’ reactions.”
Stuart’s journey to Brevard has been an interesting one. He was born into a fishing family in Bimini, Bahamas, in the Caribbean, some 70 miles from Miami, Fla. His talent came naturally. His dad was a big leaguer with the Baltimore Orioles in the 1980s.
He attended high school at Christ School in Asheville, where he played baseball, football and basketball, and was named both all-conference and all-state in baseball. “He’s a great all-around athlete, but it was baseball where he really blossomed,” coach McCay said.
“One of the most interesting things about Champ,” McCay added, “is that while he played baseball as a youngster, and then in high school, he didn’t have the chance to play much organized ball in the summers in the Bahamas.
That meant that when he entered college, he’d had several hundred fewer at bats than most of our kids had experienced.”
Clearly, that lack of at bats hasn’t hindered Stuart too much.
“Champ is as talented a player as anyone I’ve ever coached,” McCay said proudly. “And, that includes the players at UNC where I came from. He’s had a great career at Brevard and has brought a huge sense of pride to our program. We’re lucky to have had him here.”
Paul Morgan is a retired journalist and journalism professor.