50 in 50: Robert Stephenson

Draft : : Top Prospects
David Rawnsley        
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Robert Stephenson
RHP / Alhambra HS

Bats-Throws:        R-R
Height/Weight:     6-3/180
Hometown:           Martinez, Calif.
College commit:   Washington
Birthdate:              Feb. 24, 1993

SCOUTING PROFILE: For one of the rare draft years ever, the high-school talent in northern California may actually eclipse the talent in the traditionally-strong prep ranks in the southern half of the state. Stephenson is the top-rated high-school prospect in the state, though Joe Ross (No. 3 overall), a fellow NorCal righthander at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High, is pretty much considered his equal and could give Stephenson a run for his money in terms of who will go off the board first. Both should be gone no later than the top 35-40 picks. While Stephenson and Ross are frequently compared because of their close geographic proximity, the better comparison to Stephenson may actually be on the other side of the country in South Carolina prep righthander Taylor Guerrieri, who is one of the top 2-3 prep righthanders in the entire draft. Stephenson has the same lean, athletic frame and should continue to fill out and get stronger over the next few years. Like Guerrieri, Stephenson wasn’t a well-known prospect outside of his local area heading into last summer. He did earn an invitation to Perfect Game’s National Showcase in June at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., however, and his impressive performance there landed him a spot in the prestigious Aflac All-American Classic, played in August in San Diego. Between those two high-profile appearances, Stephenson took a big step forward with his raw stuff, and he was one of the most impressive prospects in the Aflac game. He has solidified that lofty status this spring. Stephenson opened the 2011 season with back to back no-hitters, and has consistently showcased his top-shelf stuff while going 6-2, 1.26. In his first 61 innings, he allowed only 27 hits and 17 walks while striking out 119. Stephenson’s fastball has sat at 92-94 mph, and he has held his velocity late into games, recently hitting 94 mph in the seventh inning of one contest. He also has topped out at 97 mph frequently this spring. Stephenson has the makings of two potential plus off-speed pitches, although neither is consistent yet. His curve is in the 78-80 mph range and has sharp, 12-to-6 biting action at times, while he has surprisingly good feel for his low-80s changeup that has good movement down in the zone. Stephenson has loose, athletic actions on the mound and a lightning-quick arm that comes through from a high-three-quarters release point, creating very good downhill angle to the plate. Where Stephenson may lose points to Guerrieri, and maybe even Ross, is his delivery has some extra effort, which creates inconsistency in his release point and sometimes prevents him from working down in the strike zone, where his pitches would have more movement. Stephenson committed to Washington in the NCAA’s early-signing period and would be seen as a major rebuilding block for a program that has struggled this year (13-29 through the first week of May), and pretty much since two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum left the program in 2006. His projected high standing in the draft, however, makes it a longshot that Stephenson will ever set foot on the Washington campus.

Projected Draft Position: Late First Round / Early compensation pick

--DAVID RAWNSLEY

Perfect Game Events Attended
2008 World Wood Bat Association 15-and-under National Championship
2010 National Showcase
2010 AFLAC All-American Game

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