In 2019, Carter Stewart Jr. became a one-of-a-kind Japanese pro baseball player. On Sunday he looked like he is poised to join the ranks of Japan's other top pitchers, striking out nine in five hitless innings in his first start against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

The eighth overall pick in Major League Baseball's 2018 June draft, Stewart refused to sign with the Atlanta Braves and did what no other marquee American amateur had done, turn pro in Japan.

After signing a six-year deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2019 that netted him a reported $7 million — far more than he likely could have earned in the United States over his first six seasons — Stewart made his first-team debut as a reliever this summer.