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Beyond Top 100: Scouting Robert Stephenson
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Events Scouted: PG National, AFLAC
The key words with Stephenson are long and loose. Everything he does looks easy and athletic. He's extremely projectable and will gain strength as he matures physically. Extra lean and wiry, he has an ideal pitcher's frame.
Again, loose is the key word here. He makes pitching look very natural and smooth. Mechanically and even physically for that matter there are some similarities to Clay Buchholz. Stephenson has a high leg kick and a slight inward hip turn. He gathers nicely and has an explosive arm action. One of the faster arms out there, he gets on top very nicely. I'd like to see him stay back over the rubber a little better and use his lower half a bit more. He isn't poor in that department but it will help tighten up his command long term.
The velocity numbers are clearly there but it's the liveliness to the fastball that jumps out with Stephenson. Working at 92-94 mph, and getting up to 95 mph, he is the owner of a true swing and miss fastball. He gets excellent two-seam life at times and has a hop through the zone because of his good extension and plus arm speed. He attacks the zone, but will just need to spot a little better in the zone as he develops.
Stephenson is also the owner of potential plus curveball. A 12-6 downer at 76-79 mph, he produces some nice late break. He flashed some with bigger, plus break on the showcase circuit as well. If we see more of those and he can prove he can consistently locate this is a plus offering in the making.
In showcase formats, young arms typically like to flash their two best pitches. But, I did see a good number of changeups from Stephenson the summer before the draft. He threw enough of them to lead me to believe it could be a solid-average big league pitch. He throws it at 81-84 mph with good, consistent arm action. He's not as comfortable yet as he is with his two best pitches, and he'll need to repeat his delivery a little better to get to that stage. But, the feel and potential are there.
Stephenson has a lot going for him. He has a good frame, he's a lively athlete, and has two potential plus pitches and a third quality offering in the making. These are the ingredients for frontline upside. He'll need to be tweaked a bit mechanically, but beyond that the weaknesses are few and far between for a pitcher his age.
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