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OnBaseMachine
05-31-2013, 02:20 PM
The title says it all, how good can Robert Stephenson be? He's currently dominating Midwest League hitters at age 20 to the tune of a 3.32 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 2.41 BB/9, and a very impressive 11.61 K/9, while only allowing 4 HR in 59.2 innings. His fastball is explosive in the mid to upper 90's and his breaking ball is considering a plus pitch, with a chance to have a plus changeup down the road.

I've seen some people say he has the best arm to come through the Reds organization since Don Gullett. So I have question for those who have seen him pitch, is he a potential legit ace? Is there a pitcher he reminds you of? It's hard not to be excited about him right now. Hopefully he stays healthy.

kaldaniels
05-31-2013, 02:22 PM
I don't think there is any reason to not believe he has the potential to be a legit ace. I'd love to hear comps from the guys here in the know.

dougdirt
05-31-2013, 02:25 PM
I have said that Stephenson is the best right handed arm to come through the system in my lifetime. I fully believe that. When he is on his game, the guy can throw three pitches for strikes in the strikezone and just overmatch hitters. There are days like yesterday where he could have had plenty of success against Major Leaguers.

klw
05-31-2013, 02:29 PM
He is #2 on the BA Hot Sheet this week.
http://ht.ly/lAuu6


The Scoop: There’s nothing wrong with a pitcher learning how to manipulate the baseball, but sometimes it can go a little to far. Stephenson spent some of his early-season starts working on his two-seam fastball as he tried to baffle hitters with movement. Six starts into the season he was living with a 5.79 ERA and the realization that he needed to go back to what he does best, blowing away hitters with his 94-97 mph four-seam fastball. In reality, not many hitters can catch up with Stephenson’s best stuff, even if it’s somewhat straight, especially when it’s paired with a changeup and curveball that are both average or better. Since going back to the high-octane approach, Stephenson has given up four runs in five starts, striking out 42 and walking four over 31 2/3 innings.

Steve4192
05-31-2013, 02:32 PM
I'd say his ceiling is unlimited. The only question is whether he comes anywhere close to his ceiling, if he washes out like thousands of pitching prospects that have preceded him, or if he lands somewhere in the middle. The safe bet is somewhere in the middle.

Superdude
05-31-2013, 02:34 PM
Verlander? I don't know if his changeup is as good yet, but the high 90's fastball and hard, power curve certainly looked familiar last night.

TOBTTReds
05-31-2013, 02:36 PM
I have said that Stephenson is the best right handed arm to come through the system in my lifetime. I fully believe that. When he is on his game, the guy can throw three pitches for strikes in the strikezone and just overmatch hitters. There are days like yesterday where he could have had plenty of success against Major Leaguers.

I'm here with you. Not to overstate things, because it is going to sound like it, buy it was asked in the spring by BP or BA, what other pitchers could come up to the big leagues like Jose Fernandez and have some success at the age of 20. My first thought was a Stephenson type. He has great stuff, and great confidence, but not cocky at all (not saying that would help or hurt, just throwing that in).

When he's on the mound, I get a sense that he thinks every hitter is relatively weak, and that he will dominate him. I like that. Cingrani has a similar approach (my stuff is better than your hitting ability type of mentality).

I think he has ace potential (keyword is potential. There is a lot of time between now and when he reaches the potential).

fearofpopvol1
05-31-2013, 02:59 PM
Verlander? I don't know if his changeup is as good yet, but the high 90's fastball and hard, power curve certainly looked familiar last night.

That's who I was thinking of too. Not to say he will be Verlander, and he has a lot of work to do before he's on his level, but I do think that is his ceiling.

What does redsof72 think? Best Reds pitching prospect since...?

nmculbreth
05-31-2013, 05:11 PM
I have said that Stephenson is the best right handed arm to come through the system in my lifetime. I fully believe that. When he is on his game, the guy can throw three pitches for strikes in the strikezone and just overmatch hitters. There are days like yesterday where he could have had plenty of success against Major Leaguers.

You follow the Reds minor league system much more closely than I do, but I agree completely. I got a chance to see Homer Bailey in Dayton and thought he had a special arm but I've been even more impressed with what I've seen from Stephenson. He's got a long way to go but it's hard not be be excited about what his future may hold.

krm1580
05-31-2013, 05:40 PM
Has anybody seen him pitch and if so can they qualify this statement from the BA writeup:

"In reality, not many hitters can catch up with Stephensonís best stuff, even if itís somewhat straight"

Is his stuff actually somewhat straight or is the a play on words in the context of him trying to get more movement?

By the way, just for kicks, here is his last 5 starts

4-0
1.15 Era
4.61 H/9
1.15 BB/9
12.11 K/9
10.5 K/BB

texasdave
05-31-2013, 07:24 PM
"I knew that I could beat any of those hitters tonight," the 6-foot-2 right-hander said. "Once I gave up the hit, I was a little bummed. I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about it."

Stephenson has a powerful four-seam fastball, as well as an impressive curveball and a changeup. His secondary pitches came in handy against South Bend. The 20-year-old estimated he threw about 25 percent curves -- which he labeled his "out pitch" for the evening -- and 15 percent changeups.

http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130531&content_id=49152892&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb&sid=milb

Wonderful Monds
05-31-2013, 07:45 PM
So here's another conversation I think with visiting; is there any chance, even remotely, that this guy could make the team at any point next year? I'm guessing he will be in AA at the very least by then?

nate1213
05-31-2013, 09:02 PM
So here's another conversation I think with visiting; is there any chance, even remotely, that this guy could make the team at any point next year? I'm guessing he will be in AA at the very least by then?

That would be awesome to see him throwing 100+ in a bullpen role in September and October.

OGB
05-31-2013, 09:08 PM
So here's another conversation I think with visiting; is there any chance, even remotely, that this guy could make the team at any point next year? I'm guessing he will be in AA at the very least by then?

I can't see a scenario where he leapfrogs (assuming Cingrani is in the rotation) 2 or more of Corcino, Villareal, Reineke, and Reynolds/Galarraga if they're back.
In other words, it would take a lot of injuries.

Wonderful Monds
05-31-2013, 09:52 PM
I can't see a scenario where he leapfrogs (assuming Cingrani is in the rotation) 2 or more of Corcino, Villareal, Reineke, and Reynolds/Galarraga if they're back.
In other words, it would take a lot of injuries.

Honestly, if he's getting results, why not? That's more of a "is he ready for the majors" question than a "could he fill in for an injury" one, the way I meant it.

The DARK
05-31-2013, 10:19 PM
I can't see a scenario where he leapfrogs (assuming Cingrani is in the rotation) 2 or more of Corcino, Villareal, Reineke, and Reynolds/Galarraga if they're back.
In other words, it would take a lot of injuries.

It's not like any of those guys are particularly important to the Reds's future plans, except perhaps Corcino (and he hasn't exactly had a successful season). Still, next season seems a little optimistic, even for a guy of Stephenson's caliber.

Steve4192
06-01-2013, 08:39 AM
So here's another conversation I think with visiting; is there any chance, even remotely, that this guy could make the team at any point next year? I'm guessing he will be in AA at the very least by then?

There is a remote chance, but it is pretty darn unlikely.

redsof72
06-01-2013, 12:31 PM
I expect to see Stephenson in Pensacola sometime this season.

Difference between April and May has been that in the last 5 starts, he has been constantly in 0-2 and 1-2 counts and when he gets ahead throwing 97 and then drops something off speed, hitter has no chance. That is why you are seeing so many K's with 2-3 putouts. Most of his strikeouts are coming on secondary pitches because he is putting the hitter in a defensive position by getting ahead 0-2 with the heater.

Early in the year, he was pitching behind in the count and most pro hitters can hit a fastball when they can gear up for it in 2-0 or2-1 counts.

In the last start, he threw 8 balls over the first 3 innings. Over the first 5 innings, he threw 52 pitches, meaning he averaged 3.4 pitches per batter, yet he still managed to strike out 6 of the 15. That is amazing.

If you saw the game in person or on TV, you saw what Jocketty saw that night...a pitcher completely over matching an entire lineup.

I said all along, when he starts throwing the curve and change for strikes, the hitters' only chance will be to try to run into a fastball and lately, when they have tried to swing early enough to do that, they found themselves swinging at pitches in the dirt. Robert is smart enough to know that when the hitter has to make his mind up to swing the instant it leaves his hand, there is no reason to throw the ball to a spot where it could possibly be hit. Thus, you have strikeouts with 2-3 putouts.

lollipopcurve
06-01-2013, 01:18 PM
I expect to see Stephenson in Pensacola sometime this season.

Interesting.

Somebody give Chris Buckley a raise.

texasdave
06-01-2013, 01:39 PM
Does that include a brief stopover in Bakersfield? Or skip that level altogether?

bellhead
06-01-2013, 01:56 PM
Does that include a brief stopover in Bakersfield? Or skip that level altogether?

I could see him skipping Cali altogether. A lot of it has to do with life outside baseball. People forget these are young guys who don't have a lot of stability in their lives moving from host family year to year. Send him to Pensacola and give him a 1 and 1/2 there were he can get acclimated and be comfortable. He is still 3 to 4 years away from the show, as he needs to build innings on that arm. I don't want him up hear ala Mike Leake only able to go 150 innings his first year.

dougdirt
06-01-2013, 02:01 PM
I could see him skipping Cali altogether. A lot of it has to do with life outside baseball. People forget these are young guys who don't have a lot of stability in their lives moving from host family year to year. Send him to Pensacola and give him a 1 and 1/2 there were he can get acclimated and be comfortable. He is still 3 to 4 years away from the show, as he needs to build innings on that arm. I don't want him up hear ala Mike Leake only able to go 150 innings his first year.

You aren't going to send a guy like Stephenson to AA then say he is another 3-4 years away. If your plan is 3-4 years, you keep him in Dayton this year and maybe give him a taste of Bakersfield in August. Then return him to Bakersfield next year and maybe split the year in Bakersfield/Pensacola. Then start the next year in Pensacola and go from there. But your timeline simply doesn't work if your plan involves Pensacola at all this year.

And like it or not, guys are always going to be on that "Mike Leake" plan of 150-175 innings their first year if they reach the big leagues before they are 24. That is just how it works.

texasdave
06-01-2013, 02:02 PM
I was only inquiring about Bakersfield because Stephenson is from California and might want to pitch there. Several of those California League teams are close to his hometown. I have no idea if that is any sort of consideration.

redsof72
06-01-2013, 02:03 PM
I don't know. Decisions like that involve a lot of things and can change at the last minute.

When you look at some of these various prospect rankings, even the ones that are updated within the season always have a bit of a delayed effect or lag. Stephenson's last start got a lot of attention. It will interesting to see over the next 10 days what some of the more well-known prospect watchers do with him on their lists.

To go back to the original post in this thread, I am one of those who resists the talk of "ceilings" and the like. Not sure we even know how good Homer Bailey can be yet, or Mike Leake. Differentiating between whether a guy is a top of rotation starter or number 3 or 4...I know a lot of people do that but I just don't see it.

We know this: Stephenson has the best fastball this system has seen from a homegrown starter in decades. His curve and change are strikeout pitches and getting better. He's a very serious minded player who works hard, is smart, and stays away from trouble.

Tom Servo
06-01-2013, 02:22 PM
I was only inquiring about Bakersfield because Stephenson is from California and might want to pitch there. Several of those California League teams are close to his hometown. I have no idea if that is any sort of consideration.
That's a good point. Ironically, of the 5 teams in the California League's Northern Division, Bakersfield and the Blaze are furthest away from Stephenson's hometown of Martinez.

lollipopcurve
06-01-2013, 04:11 PM
We know this: Stephenson has the best fastball this system has seen from a homegrown starter in decades. His curve and change are strikeout pitches and getting better. He's a very serious minded player who works hard, is smart, and stays away from trouble.

For all of these reasons, he is about as good a candidate for fast tracking as you can get.

bellhead
06-01-2013, 04:36 PM
You aren't going to send a guy like Stephenson to AA then say he is another 3-4 years away. If your plan is 3-4 years, you keep him in Dayton this year and maybe give him a taste of Bakersfield in August. Then return him to Bakersfield next year and maybe split the year in Bakersfield/Pensacola. Then start the next year in Pensacola and go from there. But your timeline simply doesn't work if your plan involves Pensacola at all this year.

And like it or not, guys are always going to be on that "Mike Leake" plan of 150-175 innings their first year if they reach the big leagues before they are 24. That is just how it works.

For the Reds is there any benefit to him hitting the majors early before age 24?

Wonderful Monds
06-01-2013, 04:51 PM
For the Reds is there any benefit to him hitting the majors early before age 24?

He might have nothing left to develop in the minors? He will probably be better off getting the hang of the majors by then.

mth123
06-01-2013, 05:09 PM
For the Reds is there any benefit to him hitting the majors early before age 24?

Well, somebody has to pitch. Arroyo leaves this year and Cingrani should fill that hole. After next season, Homer is probably gone. Mike Leake is probably in line for a $5 to $6 Million arb award in 2014 and maybe nearing $10 Million by 2015. The Reds may look to move (or non-tender) him at those costs. After 2015, Latos, Cueto and Leake need to be extended or are gone. I don't want to rush anyone, but if Stephenson might be ready, I'd rather let him take a shot at establishing himself in the major leagues before having to make those decisions. Again, don't rush the kid, but if they think he's ready, I wouldn't hold him back either. The Reds staff probably will turn-over before 2017 (when RS will be 24)

Dan Corcino, is possibly stiil in the mix somewhere, but I've seen it suggested, more than once, that he profiles more as a reliever. After him, there are a lot of questionable options. Sharky Rogers? Carlos Contreras? Drew Cisco? Sal Romano? I think those guys are more in the back-end mold (except maybe for Contreras) and many may end-up in the pen. Stephenson is the guy to take one of those top spots.

Drugs Delaney
06-03-2013, 11:01 PM
Well, somebody has to pitch. Arroyo leaves this year and Cingrani should fill that hole. After next season, Homer is probably gone. Mike Leake is probably in line for a $5 to $6 Million arb award in 2014 and maybe nearing $10 Million by 2015. The Reds may look to move (or non-tender) him at those costs. After 2015, Latos, Cueto and Leake need to be extended or are gone. I don't want to rush anyone, but if Stephenson might be ready, I'd rather let him take a shot at establishing himself in the major leagues before having to make those decisions. Again, don't rush the kid, but if they think he's ready, I wouldn't hold him back either. The Reds staff probably will turn-over before 2017 (when RS will be 24)

Dan Corcino, is possibly stiil in the mix somewhere, but I've seen it suggested, more than once, that he profiles more as a reliever. After him, there are a lot of questionable options. Sharky Rogers? Carlos Contreras? Drew Cisco? Sal Romano? I think those guys are more in the back-end mold (except maybe for Contreras) and many may end-up in the pen. Stephenson is the guy to take one of those top spots.

I think maybe next offseason could be the time to move Homer Bailey if the Reds don't think they can extend him. Especially if Arroyo is willing to take a hometown discount on a 2 year deal and the Reds are able to get a major league ready power hitting LF for Homer.

If you could pull that off, the timing could work out perfectly with Arroyo bridging the gap until Stephenson's arrival. A cheap young LF increases your chances of being able to afford both Cueto and Latos on long term extensions.

fearofpopvol1
06-04-2013, 06:13 PM
I think maybe next offseason could be the time to move Homer Bailey if the Reds don't think they can extend him. Especially if Arroyo is willing to take a hometown discount on a 2 year deal and the Reds are able to get a major league ready power hitting LF for Homer.

If you could pull that off, the timing could work out perfectly with Arroyo bridging the gap until Stephenson's arrival. A cheap young LF increases your chances of being able to afford both Cueto and Latos on long term extensions.

What indication do you have that Arroyo would take a hometown discount? He was quite outspoken before the last extension that he would not be giving any hometown discount.