BLUF: Everything necessary for a #2 profile if the secondary pitches catch up to the rest of the package.
The Player: Robert Stephenson (RHP, Cincinnati Reds) – A first-round pick of the Reds in 2011, he debuted with rookie-level Billings in 2012 and posted a 2.05 ERA in seven starts before a promotion to the Midwest League. Pitching for Dayton as a 19-year old, he notched a 4.19 ERA in eight starts with 32 hits and 15 walks allowed in 34.1 innings while striking out 35 batters.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 190): Decent athlete with solid, athletic build. Surprising strength in frame with room to fill out more as he reaches physical maturity. Frame allows for some projection.
Delivery/Mechanics: Simple, clean delivery that is repeatable. Very balanced throughout, including through finish, allowing him to field his position as he further learns his responsibilities. Exceptional arm speed.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 100, Low – 91, Average 94-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 99, Low 91, Average 94-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Good natural life and good angle to the plate. Not tons of movement but enough to help miss the fat part of the bat. Solid overall movement, slightly above average. Lacks feel for cutting/sinking the ball at present but could develop with more experience. Grade – 50/50
Overall Fastball: Can see easy plus-plus FB working as SP once physical maturity is reached. FB could be elite in short bursts. Excellent pitch that has explosiveness and dominating potential in SP or RP role. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Some feel to spin but very little consistency. Will snap off occasional average CB, more often throws spinners that need more snap to give bite and depth to the pitch. Showed a little more consistency late in debut season, though still below average. Needs considerable work and repetition. Has average potential if it all clicks and given his pitching IQ, I can see it working out. Grade – 30/50
Change-up (CH): Better feel for CH than CB. Good arm speed and the same slot as his FB. Shows some movement both with sink and arm-side fade, but nothing overwhelming. Pitch has plus potential but is still generally below-average. Can be too firm when he gets amped up and overthrows. Grade – 40/60
Control: Repeats delivery well and typically throws strikes with consistency. Will have stretches of pounding the zone with all three pitches and should avoid deep counts and walks as he matures and gains experience. Potential for plus-plus control. Grade – 50/70
Command: Has spurts of really strong command. Knows how to move FB to all four quadrants of the strike zone, just has to improve ability to execute what he wants to do. Showed growth in 2012 and should have plus command at peak. Grade – 40/60
Summation: Very promising pitcher. Still quite raw with secondary pitches. FB has near-elite potential and should carry the profile in either SP or RP role. Very intelligent and poised on the mound. Approach to pitching is polished for his age. CH is ahead of CB and has plus potential with improving feel and good deception. CB lags behind and must catch up to add vertical component to his arsenal. Command and control profile is very good and could help him advance more quickly than the development of his secondary pitches suggests. Number two potential peripheral tools develop as expected, but excellent backup late inning profile as well.
Relative Risk: High. Significant questions surrounding secondary pitches and a long way from MLB.
Future: Since he only has eight starts in Low-A, Stephenson could return there to start the 2013 season, but a strong showing could push him to High-A before the close of the campaign. He has the mound presence, poise, fastball and control/command profile to move quickly, even is his secondary pitches lag behind. His big-league ETA is likely 2015.