Tyler Stephenson wasted next to no time in making his impact felt in his Major League debut. After taking a ball in his first at-bat in his career, he turned around a 94 MPH fastball from Duane Underwood Jr. and sent it 415-feet to center field and over the fence for his first hit, first homer, and first RBI of his career.
“I just can’t even explain it,” said Stephenson of his home run. “The thing is, Duane Underwood is a local Atlanta guy. So it was pretty funny how it lined up with another local Atlanta guy I’m facing for the first time. Sure enough, he throws me a first pitch curveball, and then get a fastball out over the middle of the plate. I’m on time and I hit it and then after that I don’t know what happened – it’s just pretty incredible.”
1st #MLB at-bat
1st MLB homer
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 28, 2020
The Cincinnati Reds #3 overall prospect was subbed in during the top of the 7th inning behind the plate for Curt Casali. His first action was to catch left-handed reliever Brooks Raley, who allowed a run on three hits and a hit batter in the inning, but also struck out three batters.
While taking the field for the first time was behind the plate on the defensive side of things, that first at-bat may be a little more memorable given the result that came with it. The first swing was one that counted and the 2015 1st round draft pick by the Reds showed off some of that power in his game that’s just waiting to come out.
The home run in his first Major League plate appearance by Tyler Stephenson was the first time that feat was accomplished by a Reds player since September 14th, 1950. Ted Tappe accomplished the same feat on the road against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The next inning saw Tyler Stephenson come to the plate with two outs. This time he was facing Ryan Tepera, who thought a 93 MPH sinker would get the job done. He was wrong. Stephenson laced a single into left field at 99 MPH off of the bat, moving to 2-2 on the night. As the Reds comeback attempted continued, Stephenson came to the plate for a third time in three innings and he worked a bases loaded walk to extend the inning against Craig Kimbrel.
“Just staying with my approach. I mean it’s something I’ve done my whole career, my whole life and obviously it’s easy to get caught up in the moment – especially facing somebody like Kimbrel – one of the best closers the past couple of years and stuff. Just continue to look for my pitch and lay off his, and sure enough, it worked out,” Stephenson said about what it was like to work the plate appearance.
“Easier said than done (to not swing). I mean, it was a slider that obviously came in. On our reports it was like make him prove he can throw it. And sure enough I saw it in and just laid off. Obviously you can get caught up in the moment and just in a panic, swing, because you don’t want to strike out in a situation like that. But just having confidence really in myself, and trust my ability.”
Two at-bats. A homer and a single. Add in an RBI walk. That’s how you do a Major League debut.