Nineteen-year-old right-handed pitcher Carter Stewart, described by scouts “a curveball wizard”, signed a six-year contract worth US$ 7 million for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

A native of Melbourne, Florida, he was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves during the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) Amateur Draft. After a medical exam created concerns about Stewart’s right wrist, the Braves offered him a signing bonus of US£ 2 million, while the righthander was seeking 4.5 million.

“We are disappointed we were not able to reach an agreement,” Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said, according to MLB.com. “We wish Carter nothing but the best.”

Carter Stewart drafted by the Atlanta Braves

Carter Stewart was drafted by the Atlanta Braves but never signed

An Eau Gallie High School graduate, the righthander went to the Eastern Florida State College. He would have been eligible for this year’s Draft. His agent Scott Boras reached instead an agreement with the club that has won back to back Japan Series.

As ESPN’s Jeff Passan says, Carter Stewart plays “patient zero” and makes “real what long has been a what-if question bandied about baseball.”

If rules don’t change, Stewart will eventually be able to join again MLB as a “foreign professional” via the posting system. Like any other NPB player.

In 2017, Carter Stewart tried out but didn’t make USA’s U-18 National Team, which would go on to win the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada.