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Stewart working to regain form, boost stock for MLB Draft

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 6:44 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Nick Stewart knows his 2021 season at JMU did not go as planned.

“Obviously not happy with the spring,” said Stewart. “Not happy with the way I performed. That’s not the way I perform, as you have seen in the past.”

Stewart was expected to be one of the best pitchers on the James Madison baseball team during the spring. However, he struggled mightily by posting a 12.91 ERA and throwing just 15.1 innings across nine appearances (six starts).

“Everything that kind of went on in the spring was....it was all mental,” said Stewart. “I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to obviously perform.”

Prior to Stewart’s struggles in 2021, he had been ace for the Dukes. As a freshman in 2018, he threw 63 innings, struck out 67 batters, and logged a 2.86 ERA while limiting opponents to a .198 batting average. As a sophomore in 2019, he lowered his ERA to 2.74 and threw 72.1 innings while racking up 61 strikeouts. In 2020, Stewart posted a 5.95 ERA but only threw 19.2 innings as a result of the season getting shut down early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to get back to where he was on the mound a few seasons ago, Stewart is pitching this summer for the Frederick Keys of the newly formed MLB Draft League.

“Coming here was just really a fresh start,” said Stewart of his time in Frederick. “Really, just be...relaxed when I go out on the mound and show everyone what I can do.”

JMU head coach Marlin Ikenberry added: “That’s all you want to see for these kids is to be successful doing what they love and more importantly, when they do get knocked down, them bouncing back up and continuing to get better.”

The 2021 MLB Draft starts Sunday. Stewart is hoping to hear his name called during the three-day, 20-round event but if he doesn’t get drafted he can still sign with an organization as a free agent. He also has the option to return to college baseball for his final season of eligibility in 2022.

“It will be interesting to see how it goes but obviously I am prepared for anything and just gonna build from there based on what happens,” said Stewart.

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