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.”

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.

13 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    As for the eye test, Tyler looks like he belongs. Now it’s just a matter of how the cards fall. As for TeJay, …

    • Doug Gray

      Bad night for the team with the loss, for sure. But what a night for both Tejay Antone and Tyler Stephenson. They both looked like they absolutely belonged on the field and then some.

  2. Tom

    Feels like every game under Bell the Reds fire every bullet they got and die an excruciating death.

    Baseball is hard, it shouldn’t be that hard.

  3. Jim Delaney

    Stephenson and Antone were great.. Still cant believe that Ervin was allowed to bat in 9th.. Janikowski is a lefty batter, with big time sped. Akiyama was on 3rd.. Bell again shows he just struggles in one run games. This is reminiscent of last year. It’s like watching movie The Natural and hearing over and over Losing is a disease. That is how I feel with Bell at the helm… Hopefully ownership will be quick with hook if this does turn out to be a bad start. Also noticed at beginning of game Reds were sitting on hands in dugout until 9th inning. CUBS players were standing at rail entire game. Ross has his team into it. Reds just dont seen to have sane fire. Another sign of lack of leadership from the Manager…

  4. MK

    A team win would have made Tyler’s debut as good as it gets. Tejay was outstanding as well. Have to wonder if Miley is still tipping his pitches, they sure looked like they knew what was coming.

  5. SultanofSwaff

    Stephenson looks the part behind the plate, especially for a big man—smooth, quiet movements, gives a good target…..I like the pitch calling as well.

    Regardless of what happens for the team this season, if Tyler and Jose Garcia are starters next year the organization will be pointed in the right direction.

  6. L.A. Red

    Doug –

    I saw on ESPN prospect Rankings that they have 10 Catching Prospects ranked above Tyler Stephenson. This seems really crazy to me (last nights debut notwithstanding). In your opinion are all these catchers better prospects than Tyler? I’d like to know where you’d slot Tyler in this group. Thanks.

    4. Adley Rutschman Baltimore Orioles Age 22
    14. Joey Bart San Fran Giants Age 23
    33. Sean Murphy Oakland Athletics Age 25
    49. Luis Campusano San Diego Padres Age 21
    62. Francisco Alvarez New York Mets Age 18
    69. Shea Langeliers Atlanta Braves Age 22
    72. Keibert Ruiz L.A. Dodgers Age 22
    73. Sam Huff Texas Rangers Age 22
    75. Dualton Varsho Diamondbacks Age 24
    94. Miguel Amaya Chicago Cubs Age 21
    100. Tyler Stephenson Cincinnati Reds Age 23

    • SultanofSwaff

      I’ve given up all expectations that Reds prospects get ranked fairly. Been happening for years.

      • L.A. Red

        Yeah maybe I should give up trying to understand it myself. I mean one of those prospects on the list I posted is in Rookie ball, while we all know (thanks to Doug’s good reporting) Tyler played really well in AA a last year. I’m just confused.

    • Doug Gray

      I honestly don’t know – but based on historical rankings, I feel Stephenson is closer to being rated 50 than 100. Obviously some years are deeper than others when it comes to prospects, but 100 feels low to me.