Champ Stuart '10 is an outfielder in the New York Mets organization (Photo by Rick Nelson Photography)
Speed Demon Champ Stuart '10 Living Out His Dream
Former Greenies baseball player leads Double-A league in stolen bases
Champ Stuart '10 remembers what it was like to trade The Bahamas for The Blue Ridge Mountains. Along with the surroundings, Stuart had to acclimate to life as a Christ School student.
"It was definitely a culture shock for me," Stuart said. "Looking back, it is one of the best decisions that I've ever made."
Stuart, 24, is still burning up the base paths as a center fielder in the New York Mets organization. He has stolen 33 bases for the Double-A Binghamton (N.Y.) Rumble Ponies, a dozen more steals than any other player in the Eastern League. Stuart mostly hits out of the leadoff spot, and thus far this season has a .237 batting average with 32 RBIs, 37 walks, 16 doubles, five home runs and two triples.
The Mets drafted Stuart out of Brevard College in 2013 (sixth round, 176th overall pick), making him the first-ever Greenies player to be taken in the Major League Baseball draft. Stuart's speed is such a commodity that the Mets invited him to their big-league camp in January.
This is Stuart's first full season at the Double-A level.
"I've been a little up and down," he said. "But that's baseball, you learn to never get too high or get too low. There are going to be some bumps in the road. The thing I come back to is that it's a team game, and the team matters more to me than anything. (Going to camp with the Mets) was an awesome experience. Just seeing how other guys do their work was the best thing."
Stuart came to Christ School from Freeport, the main city on Grand Bahama, an island in the northwest Bahamas off the Florida coast. He now lives and trains out of Miami in the offseason.
Stuart still has former Greenies baseball coach Pat James on speed dial, especially when he is in the midst of a slump. Even though Stuart rarely gets back to North Carolina any more, he played locally again in 2014. The Mets' farm team at the Single-A level, the Savannah Sand Gnats, are in the South Atlantic League with the Asheville Tourists. "We were the road team, but it felt like we were home," Stuart said. There were a lot of fans and people I knew there for support. It made me feel good."