REDLEG NATION MINOR LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Reds starting pitcher prospect Robert Stephenson was chosen by the writers as the Redleg Nation Minor League Player of the Month for July. The 2011 1st round pick was promoted from Billings to the Dayton Dragons last month. In July, he started 5 games with a 1.25 ERA and 0.969 WHIP. His July pitching line was 21.2 IP, 13h, 8bb, 24 K.

Stephenson was the subject of a Reds.com article by Mark Clements earlier this week. Some snippets are below, but the full article is worth a read.

Stephenson has yet to record a loss in the Minors, holding a combined 3-0 record with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts, and Reds assistant director of player development Jeff Graupe said the club has been extremely impressed with Stephenson’s velocity, which ranges from 93-99 mph, and has touched as high as 101.

“He’s an intelligent young man, and physically, his arm strength is top of the charts,” Graupe said. “For a starting pitcher to be able to carry that [velocity] for six or seven innings, that’s pretty impressive.”

The hard-throwing right-hander has chalked up 57 strikeouts with just 15 walks this season while recently working on adding a changeup to his arsenal — a pitch he didn’t throw in high school, when he resorted to a split-finger fastball instead.

“I mostly rely on the fastball to get ahead,” Stephenson said. “I try to back them on fastballs, and if I get ahead in the count, I go to offspeed. [The changeup] is something I just started throwing in the past year. I got a really good feel for it when I was in Billings, then I kind of lost feel for it, so I haven’t been throwing it quite as much recently.”

“Amazingly, for a guy like Robert — who has the velocity he has — there isn’t a ton of effort in his delivery,” Graupe said. “So while we are monitoring his innings and his pitches at this point, he’ll be able to grow at a healthy rate over the next couple years to a point where I think he’s physically strong and durable enough to where he’ll take a pretty big workload.”

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