Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one, and they don't want someone else's shoved into their face.
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. -- Terrance Mann (Field of Dreams)
I'd argue that arrival time. I'd put Stephenson as ready somewhere between mid 2014 and the beginning of 2015:
-- The rest of this season at Dayton
-- Moving up to Bakersfield for 2013
-- Move to AA mid-season
-- Full season in AA
-- Half-season in AAA
Right now, Stephenson profiles as a TOR guy because he's got three pitches. In the one start I've seen, his fastball is more than acceptable, though he need to tighten his control/ command a bit. His curve flashes plus-plus, but is a bit inconsistent. (That puts him well ahead of the low A SP curve, btw. Most only show one or two really good off-speed pitches per game. Stephenson's showing much more consistency and bite.) His change needs some work, but flashes (rarely) as plus. It's more likely fringe-average, though the Reds have shown an affinity for teaching/ improving change-ups in the past few years.
For the rest of this year, I'd imagine his focus is to improve command of all his pitches, improve his change's arm action, and refine his curve. That puts him well ahead of most prospects in low A. He needs innings more than most, though, so that's one reason to keep him in the lower ranks.
Because he has electric stuff and two good pitches, Stephenson should be a fairly fast riser. In today's minor league system, pitchers tend to get moved quite a bit faster than in previous years. (Part of that, IMO, is the ability to develop and identify those pitchers ready for progressive levels. Part of it is technological.) Stephenson should be no different.
"You can learn little from victory. You can learn everything from defeat."
-- Christy Matthewson
"Show me a good loser and I'll show you an idiot."
-- Leo Durocher
You may be correct on your timetable as far as the way it eventually plays out. But there is no one in the Reds organization looking beyond the rest of this season. When it's time for him to move up, they will move him up. The concern is that he not try to do too much and suffer an injury. As you have probably heard, they are trying to settle him down. Word was, he was throwing as hard in the bullpen before the game as he threw in the first inning, so pumped up, something the Reds would be concerned with. The more you ask of him right now, the greater the risk that he is going to reach back and try to get more than what's there. I am sure there is some holding of breath that when he throws that first pitch Wednesday in front of 8,000, he will not try to throw it 102 mph.
This is a very special arm, the best the Reds have had in a long time. Reds are going to take it nice and easy, let him progress.
Those who want him fast tracked...be careful what you ask for. We have already had our Grulers, Howingtons. etc.
Does Robert pitch tomorrow for the Dragons? Can anyone confirm?
Hey Homer! If you can put it together, you'll put the Reds over the top....think about it.
Anyone going to the Dragons game tonight?
Last edited by TOBTTReds; 08-01-2012 at 05:13 PM.
I was at the game tonight and I was extremely impressed with Stephenson. Just some quick observations I had/saw:
- In the first inning he had his fastball topping out at 98 mph, the fastest I saw it clocked all game. More importantly, he threw that hard consistently in the first inning.
- As the game wore on, his velocity dropped a little by little every inning. His lowest fastball velocity was 94 mph.
- I was surprised with the amount of times he threw his change-up tonight (usually around 79-81 mph). He wasn't just a two pitch pitcher. In his last inning of work, he especially concentrated on his off-speed work. Another observation I had with his change-up was his arm action would slow down when throwing his change-up compared to his fastball, and it was fairly obvious.
- His breaking ball is really impressive, when it is on. There were a couple times it hung up there, but when it didn't hang it had a very nice downward action to it.
- The most impressive thing from Stephenson tonight was he didn't issue a walk. With that being said, there were times he fell behind in the count 2-0. Many times he started the AB with a ball as well.
- Final stat line: 5 ip, 5 K, 0 BB, 3 H 1 ER (a solo HR on a 97 mph fastball)
Dumb question, but IIRC wasn't Stephenson a guy who threw like 92 mph when we drafted him?
"On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."