.136/.224/.182. That was the stat line for Tyler Stephenson on May 3rd, 2016. He hadn’t played in nearly two weeks at that point, finding himself on the disabled list as he recovered from a concussion. The overall line was not good, but he had five walks and 11 strikeouts in that time. A .182 batting average on balls in play was killing his production. His season ran into problems when he returned, playing two weeks before injuring his wrist that eventually would lead to multiple DL trips and surgery.

Fast forward a year to the day and Tyler Stephenson finds himself back with the Dayton Dragons. Things, however, look very different. In 20 games this season he’s hitting .301/.400/.466 with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts. He’s been a very different hitter, both statistically, and simply watching him.

Coming out of the draft Tyler Stephenson was viewed as a power hitting catcher, though the power wasn’t quite developed yet. He was expected to hit. And he did hit for the Billings Mustangs in 2015 as an 18-year-old. In 2016 things went south with the wrist injury after a slow start. His wrist injury, that led to surgery, would usually lead to a bit of a power outage. Wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power for a bit of time after the injury, sometimes up to a year.

That hasn’t been evident for Tyler Stephenson in 2017. He’s shown plenty of extra-base power this year, hitting six doubles and two home runs in 20 games played. From a pure scouting standpoint, he looks more confident with the strikezone. He seems to have a better idea of what he wants to swing at and what he wants to lay off of. His swing looks more fluid. The ball is coming off of his bat and carrying better than it was last year.

While it hasn’t even been a full month since the minor league season began, the difference a year has made for Tyler Stephenson has been huge. He’s healthy at this point, which is key. But his numbers are also up across the board. He looks better on the field. The 20-year-old catcher is starting to show on the field all of the promise that was there when the Reds drafted him 11th overall in 2015.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner of RedlegNation.com and RedsMinorLeagues.com and as you guessed it, passionate about the Cincinnati Reds and baseball in general. He's been writing about baseball since 2006. You can also find some of his work at The Athletic where he writes about the Reds farm system. You can keep tabs with him on twitter @dougdirt24. He can also be reached via email here.

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12 Responses

  1. dan

    I hope the guy can stay healthy. If he has anymore injuries from catching, I think the Reds should consider placing him in another spot

  2. Shchi Cossack

    Stephenson’s reemergence after the disastrous, injury-catalyzed 2016 season might be especially critical with the horrendous start (.157/.234/.229) for Okey in Daytona.

  3. cfd3000

    Since you can’t easily convert someone to catcher, maintaining a solid pipeline of catching prospects is important for such a critical position. I’m hoping Stephenson continues to mature AND stay healthy, and that Okey will turn it around as well. I won’t be confident in Mesoraco’s long term prognosis until he makes it through at least a full year healthy and productive.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Healthy or not, Mesoraco has no long term future with the Reds. I hope he regains full health and reprises his 2014 (healthy) seasopn, but Mesoraco will not be with the Reds after the 2018 season. He has one shot for the BIG payday as a FA and that will be when his current contract expires. The Reds are simply not in a position to make long term extentions to catchers and pitchers. There is simply too much risk in those extentions.

      • CP

        I guess I don’t understand what you mean by long-term. He could certainly earn a 2-3 year extension if he shows he remains healthy and produces well (but not too well). Particularly if they exit the rebuild mode and enter into playoff contention mode as everyone hopes. His injury history kind of works in the Reds’ favor in that regard.

      • Old-school

        I think you are you correct. Unfortunately…Homer and mesoraco were the lynchpins of continuity for the 2010-13 winning years to the next winning team..Their injuries and exploding contracts in 2018 and ongoing pitching injuries… Make me think it’s 2019/20 before the Reds contend again. Suarez.Senzel.Stephenson the catcher and Garrett/Ariel/Romano.and Lorenzen/Iglesias are the next core…With an aging Votto.

        I don’t see the requisite starting pitching for 2018 anymore.

  4. Patrick Jeter

    Do you think there’s any shot they promote him to Daytona around the ASB if he continues having a good year? Or would that be considered a rush since he’s a young, HS catcher?

  5. WVRedlegs

    Wonderful news regarding Tyler Stephenson. I was concerned he would get off to a slow start this year with the bat. The C position isn’t all that strong on the farm. Okey needs to kick it into gear soon.
    Are there any C’s in the draft that the Reds may take early in the 3rd-5th rounds instead of taking one a little later around the 10th-15th rounds? That U of FL catcher who was earlier a 1st round projection, has fallen down to the 3rd round or so.Mostly because he hasn’t hit as well as expected this year, but he still has good power. JJ Schwartz I think his name is. He has caught some good pitchers while at UF. Can you see the Reds being in on him early in the 3rd??

    • The Duke

      Schwartz isn’t a good defensive catcher, and now he isn’t hitting either. He has rarely caught at all this year as the guy who does is far superior behind the plate.

      Evan Scoug at TCU came into the year as a projected 1st rd pick, but has struggled. If he’s still there in the 3rd or 4th it would be worth a gamble.

      • WVRedlegs

        Thanks for updating on Schwartz. I’ve seen him hit a couple of HR’s on ESPN in a couple of UF games. Just happened to be flipping through the channels.
        Would you go that high for a C this year after the Reds doing so the last 2 years?
        I would hazard a guess that pitch framing is going to become more important for college C’s evaluations from this day on and into the future. To go along with bat and glove evaluation. I haven’t a clue as to what the college C landscape looks like this year. I remember last year’s draft there was a small run on C’s in the supplemental round just before the Reds took Okey in the 2nd.

  6. Eric

    Do you think that he gets moved up to Daytona soon?

    • The Duke

      No. I’ll be surprised if he isn’t in Datyon all year.