22. Robert Stephenson, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Another toy for Dusty coming soon
Stephenson, who'll turn 20 this Sunday, got off to an outstanding start at Rookie-level Billings after he was taken with the 27th overall selection by the Reds in last year's draft. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander posted a 2.05 ERA, 37 strikeouts, just eight free passes and a 0.98 WHIP in seven starts (30 2/3 innings). He didn't fare as well in his move to Single-A Dayton later in the year, but wasn't terrible (4.19 ERA, 35 K's, 15 BBs in 34 1/3 frames).
There is a lot to like about the California native. He has a simple, clean delivery and has an electric heater that reaches into the mid- to upper 90s. A bit of a max effort pitcher at times, Stephenson boasts repeatable mechanics, and his fastball could be elite down the road when he develops a more mature frame. His weakness, like most young hurlers, is the lack of depth in his secondary pitches. He made solid strides perfecting his changeup last year, but his curve is still a work in progress.
His fastball alone can carry him to the upper minor league levels, but he will need to develop his arsenal in order to break into the bigs. If he can do that, Stephenson, because of his intelligence and poise on the bump, easily projects to be at least a No. 2 starter in the majors. He's likely to begin somewhere in Class A again this season, but depending on his development, he could be a quick riser. It would be realistic to see him in the consideration for a rotation post in spring training in 2015.
On to No. 23
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About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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