Eastern Florida State College pitcher Carter Stewart officially signed a professional baseball contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Nippon Professional League in Japan.
The right-hander went 2-2 for the Titans this season with a 1.70 ERA, striking out 108 hitters in 74 1/3 innings pitched.
"The more I talked about it, the more it came to me that it was a great idea and I loved it," Stewart said during his press conference Thursday in California. "I do hope that I create a new opportunity for young amateur players to have a different path.
"I don't know what is going to happen, but I hope one day someone says this was a great idea."
Stewart decided to go to Japan and pitch rather than go into the Major League Baseball Draft which will begin on June 3. On Thursday he signed a six-year deal that will be guarantee him as much as $7 million.
"We are very excited about Carter signing a professional contract. He is an amazing young man with an amazing amount of talent and more importantly he is a very humble young man," Eastern Florida State College Associate Vice President of Athletics Jeff Carr said. "He put Eastern Florida State College baseball back on the map with the exposure he gave us this year – we wish him the very best and will all be following his success in Japan!"
Stewart helped the Titans finish 31-20 and finished in second place in the Southern Conference this season, falling in the Southern Conference Tournament.
"I am so excited for Carter and his family. The opportunity he has in front of him is life changing," Eastern Florida State College baseball coach Jason Arnold said. "I am so proud that he had the courage to step outside the box and take a route that he felt was best for him. He has been a great player and ambassador for Eastern Florida State College and I am fortunate to have been able to coach him this season. I know he's going to take advantage of this unique opportunity."
The Melbourne native will be in Japan Monday to be formally announced and will pitch in Japan's farm system the remainder of this season.
"It was a long process between getting back to baseball and making a decision. It came at an awkward time," Stewart said. "In the end, I made the decision that was best for me at the time. It came down to where I wanted to play baseball."