Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Reds list
The Top Ten
1. Robert Stephenson
Height/Weight: 6’2” 190 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Alhambra HS (Martinez, CA)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #78 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 4.86 ERA (16.2 IP, 17 H, 18 K, 13 BB) at Double-A Pensacola, 3.05 ERA (20.2 IP, 19 H, 22 K, 2 BB) at High-A Bakersfield, 2.57 ERA (77 IP, 56 H, 96 K, 20 BB) at Low-A Dayton
The Tools: 7+ FB; 7 potential CB; 6 potential CH
What Happened in 2013: The 20-year-old pitched across three professional levels, finishing the year in Double-A, missing more than a bat an inning and holding hitters near the Mendoza line.
Strengths: Easy plus athlete; fluid delivery; creates sharp angle to the plate and excellent extension; fastball is plus-plus offering; routinely works in the mid-90s; touches upper 90s in most outings; curveball flashes well above-average potential; thrown with velocity and hard vertical snap; true wipeout offering; shows feel for a changeup; good control for power arm; ultra-competitive.
Weaknesses: Can lose plane because of the delivery; pitches can flatten out; tendency to work up in the zone; changeup is fringe at present; flashes plus but overthrows the pitch; too firm in the upper 80s with a more deliberate release; more control than command at present.
Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 2 starter
Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter
Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited Double-A experience.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s no doubt that the fantasy upside is huge for this fireballer. Stephenson has the raw stuff to strike out a batter per inning and log a lot of them—the question is where his ratios will fall. His realistic ceiling, especially pitching at Great American Ball Park, is that he’s around a 3.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, which gives him top-20 starter potential.
The Year Ahead: Stephenson is one of the most electric arms in the minors, a true frontline type with two 70 (or better) pitches and the makings of a quality changeup. He’s still turning his control into command, but for a power arm, he shows advanced pitchability and feel for sequencing and location. This could be a special arm, one that reaches heights above his paper projection, especially if the changeup matures into a plus pitch and the fastball command refines. Stephenson will continue to miss bats at the Double-A level in 2014, and could reach the majors over the summer if he continues to take steps forward.
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