Robert Stephenson took the mound last night for the Louisville Bats and things didn’t go so well. The right handed pitcher allowed six runs over 2.0 innings with four walks and two strikeouts.

The former 1st round pick has had struggles with his control for several seasons now. He’s walked 65 batters in 123.2 innings pitched this year for Louisville and he walked four batters in 12.0 big league innings over two starts with the Cincinnati Reds earlier this year.

The Bats overcame the early deficit and won the game, but in the postgame interview, Louisville manager Delino DeShields didn’t hold back.

This is what we’ve been going through with this kid for the last three or four years,” DeShields said, referring to Stephenson’s control issues. “Until he makes an adjustment, it’s going to continue. It’s not going to get better. It’s on him. He’s been told what he needs to do and what he needs to work on by numerous coaches and staff members. It’s up to him to make those adjustments. If I was him, I’d be embarrassed.

The frustration seems to be boiling over for DeShields here. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a minor league manager say something like that final sentence about a player for on the field performance. It would also seem that he’s frustrated that he believes that Robert Stephenson is either no listening to his coaches, or is unable to make the adjustments that his coaches have been telling him to make.

Consistency seems to be the issue for Stephenson. Over his previous three starts he had walked just four batters in 18.0 innings, but the start before that he walked six batters in 3.2 innings. The one before that he didn’t walk anyone in six innings. The two before that he walked nine in 12.0 innings. You get the point. Some days he’s able to throw strikes and keep the walks down, but some days he simply struggles to get through an inning without a walk or two.

The good news for the Reds is that they’ve seemingly got enough starting pitching, assuming there aren’t more injuries, that they have the ability to continue to let Robert Stephenson work on things in the minor leagues, even next year, if he needs to. The not-so-good news for Stephenson is that he’s got other guys, who also have outstanding stuff, breathing down his neck for that next shot. Teammate Amir Garrett is now in Triple-A and after dominating Double-A has a handful of starts under his belt with Louisville. In Double-A Sal Romano has been crushing the hopes and dreams of Southern League hitters for the last two months (2.20 ERA in 61.1 innings, nine walks, 57 strikeouts). Jackson Stephens has pitched very well in Pensacola all year (3.29 ERA in 139.2 innings) and after dominating the Florida State League Tyler Mahle now has 11 solid starts with Pensacola.

While Robert Stephenson still has the best raw stuff of any starter in the Reds farm system, he’s going to have to find a way to use it more consistently. If he’s not able to throw it for strikes often enough then the fact that he’s got three plus offerings doesn’t matter all that much.