Kwan is the son of Jane and Raymond Kwan. He has one brother, Ryan, and one sister, Christine.
In 2015, Steven graduated from Washington High School in Fremont, California. He hit .462 his senior year, collecting 10 doubles, 5 triples and 14 RBI.
Kwan chose a baseball scholarship to Oregon State, majoring in business.
In 2017, he hit .304/.381/.342 in 26 games in the Cape Cod League.
Steven enjoys dodgeball, wiffle ball and snowboarding in his spare time.
His favorite athlete is Buster Posey. His favorite move is "Benchwarmers."
June 2018: The Indians chose Kwan in the 5th round, out of Oregon State University. Steven signed for an under-slot $185,000 via scout Conor Glassey, with slot being $303,400.
2021 Season: Akron (51 games), Columbus (26 games)
On first glance, the one thing that’s evident about Kwan is that he really doesn’t miss. The 24-year-old had a 9.1 percent strikeout percentage, the lowest in the system and the eighth-lowest among all Minor Leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances.
“He puts the bat on the ball, and he puts the ball in play. And he does that night in and night out,” Harris said.
Kwan had 97 hits in 77 total games, including 12 homers and 15 doubles, while batting .328/.407/.527 with 44 RBIs and 65 runs scored. He suffered a hamstring strain just three games into the season that forced him to miss nearly all of May and June. (Gerard Gilberto @Gerard_Gilberto - Nov 8, 2021)
In 2022, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Kwan as the 27th-best prospect in the Guardians system.
April 9, 2022: Steven Kwan may be everything the Guardians have been searching for over the last few seasons. The problem is, the team needs more than one spark in its lineup to start to see success.
Kwan has been in the Majors for all of two games, and has already captured the heart of the fans with his plate discipline, bat-to-ball skills, baserunning and defense—all of which were on full display in Cleveland’s 1-0 extra-inning loss to Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.
Aside from the strong pitching the Guardians have received thus far, Kwan has been the lone source of optimism this season. It’s only been two games, which is a ridiculously small sample size, but in a time when some could easily get overwhelmed by the jump to the big leagues, Kwan has demonstrated each of the tools that the organization has raved about throughout his Minor League career, showing why it’s easy to believe he can have a successful career in the Majors.
Let’s take a look at the tools we’ve seen from Kwan far:
–Plate discipline. Kwan admitted after Opening Day that his heart was racing as he stepped into the batter’s box for the first time as a Major Leaguer. He said it felt like he was floating, as he was officially accomplishing a dream he started to fantasize about as a kid. Yet somehow, his approach at the plate gave off the impression he had been in the Majors for years. He watched the first pitch go by for a ball before grounding out in his first big league at-bat.
In his second plate appearance, he demonstrated patience, watching five pitches to earn a free pass to first base. That’s when it truly set in that he knew he belonged here. “That just kind of got me back in that mode that this is the same game and I have great guys around me saying that same thing,” Kwan said. “I’m really happy that they can help me along that way.”
From there, he kept cruising. He drew another walk, logged a ninth-inning single (his first Major League hit), and earned a quick move up in the order, getting penciled into the two-spot in the lineup. Once again, he wasn’t rattled, as he added another walk, single and double to his stats sheet.
–Bat-to-ball skills. Kwan’s bat-to-ball skills may be the tool everyone within the organization has praised the most. The patience he displays at the plate is taken to a whole new level when breaking down how selective he is with the pitches he swings at. In each of his first two games, he’s seen 18 pitches—none of which induced a swing and a miss.
How has he been able to stay so calm? “Just not trying to let thoughts go too far,” Kwan said. “Just taking deep breaths in and out, just one at a time … and if things get too much, step out and reset and get back to it.”
–Baserunning. From the start of Spring Training, Guardians manager Terry Francona has emphasized the importance of baserunning for a team that could have some offensive struggles. He’s been adamant that they’ll have to play small ball and take the extra base each time they have an opportunity to. And that’s exactly what Kwan did.
A hit that has an exit velocity of 92 mph with a launch angle of 15 degrees like Kwan had in the ninth is a single 71.5% of the time, according to Baseball Savant. But Kwan chose to be in the group of 14.2% who are able to extend it to a double by not breaking stride right out of the box.
“It’s nice to see him do a lot of things,” Francona said. “I’m glad he has the confidence to do that because that’s the right situation and he came out of the box good. He’s certainly been a bright spot.”
–Defense. The team is more than comfortable playing Kwan in all three outfield spots, but Francona said before the game he’ll probably see the most time in left field. He proved pretty quickly that wasn’t a problem for him, flashing some leather to rob Whit Merrifield of a hit on a diving grab to his glove side.
“I told him to just relax and play and treat it like it’s Spring Training,” center fielder Myles Straw said. “No pressure, just go out there and have fun. If he does that, he’s going to be a really good player.” (M Bell - MLB.com - April 9, 2022)
April 2022: Kwan became the first Cleveland hitter since Tyler Naquin in July and August 2016 to win AL Rookie of the Month. Kwan hit .354 with five doubles, a triple, seven RBIs, 10 runs scored, nine walks and maintained a .459 on-base percentage between Opening Day and the end of April.
He reached base 18 times in his first five games, setting a record dating back to at least 1901. He also became the first player since at least 1901 to reach base at least three times in each of his first five career games.
Kwan joined Yermin Mercedes (2021) as the only hitters since 1933 with a five-hit day within their first three career games.
Showcasing the bat-to-ball skills that led to his promotion to the majors on Opening Day, Kwan didn't swing-and-miss in the first 115 pitches of his career, the longest streak without a swing-and-miss to start a career since 2000, according to Elias. (Ryan Lewis - May 3, 2022)
One would never guess it to watch the way Steven Kwan stands at the plate now with such poise and confidence, delivering clutch hit after clutch hit, but not long ago, the Guardians’ rookie phenom would get so nervous when batting he couldn’t concentrate properly.
Kwan, during a sit-down interview at his locker inside the Guardians’ clubhouse May 7 before Game 1 of a doubleheader with the Blue Jays at Progressive Field, said his issues surfaced when he was a freshman at Oregon State in 2016. He hit .215 over 35 games. He knew he was better than that.
“I had a lot of anxiety in the batter’s box,” Kwan said. “I’d get a rapid heart rate. I’d have trouble breathing.
“I went to one of my college coaches about it. He played in the big leagues as well. We kind of broke it down and just started working together on meditation. We did it as a team as well. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Kwan was referring to Tyler Graham. Graham played nine years of professional baseball, but his Major League career lasted just 10 games with the Diamondbacks in 2012. He batted twice without getting a hit, although he did score a run. He was retired on his only stolen base attempt.
Graham, an outfielder, played his college ball at Oregon State. He was selected by the Giants in the 19th round of the 2006 draft. He returned to his alma mater as an undergrad assistant with the Beavers’ baseball team in 2016 and 2017, which is when he hooked up with Kwan.
Whatever door Graham unlocked in Kwan’s mind, he must have found the right key, because Kwan hit .331 with the Beavers in 2017 and .365 the next year before the then-Indians picked him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
Because COVID forced cancellation of all minor-league baseball in 2020, Kwan essentially played only two seasons in the minor leagues before breaking training camp in April as the Guardians’ starting right fielder. He took a .328 batting average into the first game of the doubleheader with the Blue Jays on May 7.
Kwan was named AL Rookie of the Month for April when he hit .354 in 15 games. His single through the right side in the bottom of the 10th inning May 4, with runners on first and second and nobody out, drove in the winning run in a 6-5 victory over the Padres. One night later, he hit his first Major League home run when the Guardians edged Toronto, 6-5.
The home run was a big moment in Kwan’s early career, but the game-winning hit was bigger, not just because it won the game but because it showed Manager Terry Francona had enough confidence in Kwan to have him swing away rather than lay down a sacrifice bunt.
“He looked down and asked Sarby (third base coach Mike Sarbaugh) to repeat the signs,” Francona said. “He runs well enough where they shouldn’t be able to double him up. They were playing in for the bunt, so the idea is maybe he can slap one by somebody.”
Which is exactly what happened. Kwan did not try to knock down the outfield wall with a line drive. His ground ball got past Padres second baseman C.J. Adams. Owen Miller scored for the Guardians. Game over.
It was the first walk-off for the Guardians this season and the first of Kwan’s career. Kwan was mobbed by his teammates. The obligatory water bottle shower was part of the celebration.
“We’re a really young team, so a lot of the guys came up through the minors with me,” Kwan said May 7. “But also the older guys have taken me under their wing, which I’m grateful for.
“You look around, we have some really good hitters. We play for each other. We’re a really tight-knit community. I think those three factors can equate to a good amount of wins.” (By Jeff Schudel - May 7, 2022)
Aug. 30, 2022: Kwan has made a ton of history this season, becoming the first Cleveland rookie to have two on-base streaks of at least 18 games since Al Rosen in 1950. And he has reached base 177 times via a hit, walk, or a hit-by-pitch, which is the most through a 112-game stretch since Luke Easter did it 179 times between 1949 and 1950.
2022 Season: Kwan led the team in batting average (.298) and OBP (.373). And he finished one back of the team lead in runs (89) and two back in steals (19). He excelled in the field as well, finishing first among all left fielders in total fielding runs saved with 20.
Nov 14, 2022: - There was no arguing against the fact that Steven Kwan had an incredible rookie season. The only issue for him is that Julio Rodríguez and Adley Rutschman did, too.
Kwan came just shy of becoming the first Cleveland player to win the American League Rookie of the Year award since Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1990. Kwan placed third in this year’s vote, trailing Rodríguez (who took home the hardware) and Rutschman (who came in second), as announced on MLB Network. Just two teams have gone longer than Cleveland without a Rookie of the Year winner: The Orioles (1989, Gregg Olson) and Padres (1987, Benito Santiago). (M Bell - MLB.com - Nov 14, 2022)
- Stephen Kwan is Asian American. He has both Chinese and Japanese roots.
|Birth City:||Los Gatos, CA|
|Draft:||Indians #5 - 2018 - Out of Oregon State Univ.|
Kwan is a lefthanded hitter with a short load and quick hands for impressive bat speed. He is level to the ball, hitting line drives to the gaps. He is a slap hitter.
Kwan’s size has always led to questions about his impact potential. What’s never really been in doubt, however, is his ability to put the bat on the ball. He has excellent feel for the barrel and rarely strikes out. He whiffed in just 9% of his plate appearances in 2021. That fit with his profile as a slap-hitting leadoff hitter prior to 2021, but in 2021 he produced surprising power. While Akron and Columbus are both hitter-friendly ballparks, he did his best to answer questions about his ability to drive the ball. (T Cahill - Baseball America - Spring 2022)
Steven has solid swing mechanics and is balanced at the plate.
He is a very tough hitter to strike out. And he walks a lot.
Kwan can bunt for a hit.
April 12, 2022: Most times reaching base in first 5 career games (since at least 1901):
2008 - Jay Bruce: 17
2022 - Steven Kwan: 16
1939 - Fern Bell: 16
1901 - John Farrell: 16
Kwan has a contact-oriented approach.
“He’s a throwback,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “He puts the ball in play, in an age when there is a lot of swinging and missing.”
Kwan does not have prototype corner outfield power, but he does have the next best thing: an ability to consistently put the ball in play and get on base.
“He uses the whole field,” Francona said. “I think, as he grows into his comfort zone, you’ll see him not necessarily hit home runs, but drive the ball more.”
Steven is learning to hunt his pitch and turn on it.
The Guardians would be happy to continue to see Kwan put his bat on the ball, which is something that he’s consistently done at all levels. He has more walks (100) than strikeouts (82) as a pro as of the start of the 2022 season.
“As he gets an accumulation of at bats, and gets some confidence, I think you’ll see him hit more balls into the gaps,” Francona said. (Jim Ingraham - Baseball America - May 2022)
Steven covers plenty of ground, getting good jumps and taking solid routes to the ball. He is a 60-grade center fielder.
Kwan is an above-average runner and tracks balls well in center field. (T Cahill - Baseball America - Spring 2022)
Kwan has a good arm, and his throws have good carry.
- Oct. 2022: Kwan won the Fielding Bible Award at LF for the Guardians. Kwan's breakout season in Cleveland included an impressive performance in the outfield, where he led all left fielders in both DRS (21) and OAA (12). His 21 DRS were the most by any player at a specific outfield position.
- 2022 Gold Glove winner - Left field: Steven Kwan, Guardians
Another surprise team this year, the AL Central-champion Guardians had a rookie left fielder who was key to their unexpected surge, both with his offensive and defensive contributions. With Myles Straw also winning a Gold Glove, this marks the first time two Cleveland outfielders won the award in the same year. Defensively, Kwan led all MLB left fielders with 21 DRS and 10 Outs Above Average. According to Elias, he is the first Cleveland rookie to win a Gold Glove. Kwan is also the fifth rookie outfielder to win the honor, joining Tommie Agee (1966), Fred Lynn (1975), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Luis Robert (2020).
- Steven runs well.
- In 2022 with the Indians, he stole 19 bases.
April 23, 2022: The Guardians were relieved that Kwan passed initial concussion protocol after crashing hard into the left field wall late in the loss to the Yankees. He underwent subsequent testing after the game without issue.
- April 24, 2022: Kwan exited the game after two at-bats with what the club called right hamstring tightness. Manager Terry Francona said Kwan’s hamstring cramped up while rounding first when he flied out in his second at-bat. Francona called Kwan's removal “preventative." He is considered day-to-day.