Baseball America’s latest mock draft has the Reds selecting RHP Robert Stephenson with the 27th overall pick in the June 6 MLB Draft. Let’s head off to Martinez, Calif., and Alhambra High School to examine the youngster.
Stephenson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) is a lanky, hard-throwing University of Washington signee. He began the season in Johnny Vander Meer-like fashion, throwing back-to-back no-hitters. The gems are part of a season that has seen Stephenson go 7-2 with a 1.33 ERA. In 13 games and 64 innings, he has struck out 132, walked 23 and allowed 29 hits.
Projectable, Stephenson features a loose, lanky frame that still is growing. He throws on a downhill plane, moves his pitches around and can effectively pitch up in the zone when he picks his spots.
Stephenson’s fastball was in the low 80s as a sophomore, hit 92 as a junior and sits in the 93-to-95 range, now. He has hit 97. Athletic, Stephenson has some effort to his delivery, but has smoothed it considerably since last season. He commands well a 78-to-80 m.p.h. curve and mixes in a change once in a while.
Very intelligent (his GPA is 4.2), Stephenson also is baseball smart. He is widely considered a late first round or early supplemental round talent. Some say Stephenson won’t get past the Giants, his favorite team, at No. 29.
Stephenson features a very quick arm and strong command for a high school pitcher. With pro coaching that could help him land on a less stiff front leg, correct a slight head jerk and not step to the first base side quite so much, his command could improve even more.
The starter in the prestigious Aflac East-West game, Stephenson gets into a rhythm and is difficult to beat. He maintains his velocity deep into games. Some scouts think Stephenson could have three plus pitches as a pro.
Stephenson is a high-character individual with a strong work ethic. His family values education, so his signing price might not be cheap, but is expected to be within reason.
BA ranks Stephenson the 24th-best player in the draft, 16th among pitchers. The publication ranks him the 12th-best RHP and the No. 5 high school right-hander in the draft.