The Cincinnati Reds called up #3 overall prospect Tyler Stephenson from the Prasco Park roster on Sunday afternoon. The series of events that led to it aren’t what anyone involved was hoping for, as Stephenson is taking the place on the roster of Mike Moustakas. Cincinnati’s second baseman woke up this morning and wasn’t feeling well and was placed on the injured list – not the 10-day injured list – which is worth noting because that designation seems to imply it’s the COVID-19 injured list. To be placed on that doesn’t require a positive test, merely showing symptoms. There is no time requirement for the stay on the list.

For Tyler Stephenson, if you had said that he would make his debut at the end of July back in February, it would have made plenty of sense. He was likely to begin the year in Triple-A Louisville, and as the top position prospect in the organization he was on the brink of the big leagues. As a catcher, with how the position tends to go with regards to guys getting banged up behind the plate, he was always a call away for 2020. But then things went all 2020 and the season was shut down before we got it started.

The 2019 season for Tyler Stephenson ended on a high note. Over the final five weeks of the minor league season Stephenson hit .361/.434/.556 for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. He then went out to the Arizona Fall League where he kept that going for the next month, hitting .353/.421/.549 in 14 games – including the Fall Stars game.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart is on the paternity leave list for Cincinnati right now after he and his wife welcomed a new member of their family on Saturday evening. He could come back on Monday, I believe. That could mean that the stay could be short for Stephenson in the Major Leagues for now. Of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that, either. With Mike Moustakas on the injured list for the time being, Kyle Farmer may not be viewed as much as that third catcher as he may be the right-handed hitting side of the second base platoon that may develop until Moustakas returns.

In the minors last season, Tyler Stephenson lowered his strikeout rate. He’s always had a quality walk rate. When it comes to the offensive side of things, the area where Stephenson needs to tap into the most is his power. He’s got above-average raw power, but his home run totals haven’t shown that in the minor leagues to this point. When he does show his power, though, he can show it to all parts of the field. We got a glimpse of his opposite field power earlier this month in the intrasquad scrimmages as he put one into the seats in right-center.

Behind the plate, Tyler Stephenson has shown big improvements in the last two seasons. A lot of that may just come down to the fact that he’s been healthy, able to stay on the field, and get the necessary reps to continue to develop. Early in his career he struggled with stay healthy, dealing with a variety of injuries along the way that kept him off of the field more than you would prefer to see. He’s got a strong arm behind the plate, and he’s solid in the other aspects of the game behind the plate.

The Reds were preparing 2020 with Tyler Stephenson in mind. The organization included Stephenson on all of the big league calls with the catchers and pitchers to allow him to be as caught up as possible on everything with the pitching staff and coaching staff as to what it was they were looking to do. During spring training, and in Summer Camp, Stephenson was spending plenty of time catching everyone as he continued to try and familiarize himself with what everyone throws, what they like to throw in what situations – just building a catalog of everything a catcher needs to know about their pitchers.

11 Responses

  1. gregteb

    Can’t fathom why they would sign Shogo to lead off because of his speed and OB ability, then start that slug runner Winker batting first.

    • BK

      Likely because Winker has a career .396 OBP vs. RHP which is best on the team. Also, I would guess they are trying to bat Shogo lower in the order while he adjusts to MLB hitting.

    • Billy

      I may be wrong, but the data I’d seen presented a few years back suggested that you should hit your fast players around 6 in the order. The reason is that speed matters less when good hitters are hitting behind you. They already have a decent chance of driving runners in. Weaker hitters hitting behind you, especially guys with less power, are less likely to a runner around the bases. In that case, if the runner can steal a base, it makes it more likely that the weaker hitter can drive him in. Regardless, the difference is pretty small, I think.

  2. MK

    Has a team ever had a slower 1-2 at top of order than Winker/Votto?

    Guess the are hoping they can trot around bases

  3. Jim Delaney

    It’s only 3 games but the biggest issue that I was concerned about the Reds 2020 team and that was the Manager.. after 3 games it is definitely still the manager.. doesnt seem to have any idea on setting relief roles.. Hitting Winker lead off.. Allowing Winkwr to face a lefty… They lost close game after close game last year and blamed the offense.. two close games this year and Bell is 0 and 2..This team just seems so tight in close games.. Hopefully the ownership will make quick move if this continues. It would be inexcusable for this team to not be in the playoff hunt when over half the teams in NL will make the playoffs…

    • Greenfield Red

      One thing that bothered me is that he gave up the DH in one of the games (meaning the pitcher would have to hit for himself for the rest of the game). They lost anyway so it didn’t come back to bite them, but I don’t believe that happens often if ever. How hard can it be with an expanded roster to keep from doing that?

  4. AMDG

    “To be placed on that doesn’t require a positive test, merely showing symptoms.”

    With symptoms of cold & flu being similar to covid, it’s a strange option to land on the covid list when you may not even have the virus.

    • Doug Gray

      2020 is strange. But there’s no “time” you must spend on this list. So it allows teams to quarantine players until tests get back if there’s a concern, and if it’s just a cold, the guys can come back in a few days.