The Reds optioned Stephenson to Triple-A Louisville on Sunday.
Cincinnati's top catching prospect wasn't a serious threat to crack the Opening Day roster with all of Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali and Kyle Farmer ahead of him in the organizational pecking order. The 2015 first-round pick will likely spend the majority of the season at Louisville honing his receiving skills, but Stephenson could get a look in the majors at some point if the Reds are eager to phase out Barnhart in favor of a higher-upside offensive option behind the dish.
Stephenson went 2-for-2 with a homer, double, walk and four RBI in Thursday's spring training win over the Diamondbacks.
Stephenson finally put together a healthy minor-league season in 2019 and followed that up with a nice campaign in the Arizona Fall League. He's expected to begin the year at Triple-A Louisville, but if Tucker Barnhart continues to falter at the plate, there's a window for Stephenson to potentially take over the No. 1 job for the Reds over the summer.
Stephenson was added to the Reds' 40-man roster Wednesday.
This move was a lock on the final day to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft. Stephenson is clearly the catcher of the future in Cincinnati, but he will need to head to Triple-A for at least a month or two before making his big-league debut. He hit .285/.372/.410 with a 10.2 percent walk rate, 16.5 percent strikeout rate and six home runs in 89 games at Double-A and made up for lost time with 13 games in the Arizona Fall League. Stephenson has big raw power and is patient at the dish, which will hopefully make up for the fact that he isn't the greatest defensive catcher.
Stephenson has been assigned to Double-A Pensacola to begin the 2019 season.
Stephenson was the Reds' first-round pick in 2015 and has battled a slew of injuries in his professional career. He was able to make through most of 2018 unscathed, however, hitting .250/.338/.392 in 109 games at High-A Daytona.
Stephenson went 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs and five RBI for High-A Daytona in its 9-6 win over Bradenton on Thursday.
The hit and RBI totals matched career highs for the 21-year-old backstop, who is now slashing .282/.361/.451 across 391 plate appearances on the season. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Stephenson is quite large for a catcher, but his big frame hasn't hindered him too much defensively thus far in his development. The Reds will continue to bring the 2015 first-round pick through the system slowly and likely won't prepare him for a role with the big club until 2020.
Stephenson (thumb) successfully made it through instructional league games in Arizona without aggravating his thumb injury and will move up to High-A Daytona to start 2018, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports.
Stephenson was able to avoid surgery on his thumb after seeking and receiving a second opinion on the injury. He has played only 119 games the last two seasons due to multiple injuries.
Stephenson (thumb) is playing for the Reds in the instructional league, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Stephenson missed much of the season due to a thumb injury, but he'll be able to play a bit in the instructional league before the season comes to an end. Before getting hurt, Stephenson hit .278/.374/.414 over 80 games at Low-A Dayton. Considering his current level of activity, Stephenson should enter the 2018 season in full health.
Stephenson (thumb) is on the disabled list, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America reports.
Before the injury, Stephenson was having a good season with Low-A Dayton, slashing .278/.374/.414 with six home runs and 22 doubles. The Reds intended to keep him with Dayton most of the season, so the injury probably won't be what keeps him from advancing through the system at the moment, but the loss of at-bats is never good for development.
Stephenson continues to hit well at Low-A Dayton, hitting .287/.400/.435 in 135 plate appearances. Despite his strong start, the Reds intend to keep Stephenson at Dayton for the bulk of the season, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
The good news is that Stephenson's surgically repaired wrist is fully healed and he's performing at the level the Reds once hoped for when they took him in the first round of the 2015 draft. As Enquirer writer Zach Buchanan points out, at age 20 Stephenson is still young for the level at Low-A.
Stephenson is off to a decent start at Low-A Dayton, hitting .265/.357/.449 with two homers and 14 RBI in 56 plate appearances.
The important part is that Stephenson, the Reds' first-round pick in the 2015 draft, has stayed healthy so far after only playing 39 games at Dayton last year. He's still just 20 years old, so there's plenty of time for him to develop.
Stephenson (wrist) will start 2017 at Low-A Dayton after missing a good chunk of the 2016 season.
The Reds' first-round pick in 2015, Stephenson's development was halted in its tracks last year. He played only 39 games for Dayton, hitting a paltry .216/.278/.324 there. The team doesn't have much organizational strength at the catcher spot in the minors, so if he catches fire at Dayton the Reds could move him up to High-A Daytona fairly aggressively.
Stephenson (wrist) will have season-ending surgery.
An injury-riddled year ends on a disappointing note for Stephenson, one of Cincinnati's most valued prospects. In 39 games for Single-A Dayton, he hit .216 with three home runs and 16 RBI. Stephenson will likely ease back into baseball activities following the surgery, as he likely eyes another stint in Single-A to start the 2017 season.
Stephenson (wrist) is back in action at Low-A Dayton, where he went 4-for-4 on Tuesday night.
Stephenson was used as the DH in this one, while second-round pick Chris Okey stayed behind the plate. At some point the organization will probably put Stephenson and Okey on separate teams to allow both to catch regularly.
Stephenson (wrist) has begun a rehab assignment in the Arizona Rookie League, RedsMinorLeagues.com reports.
Stephenson's development time has stalled because of the wrist injury, but the good news is that they expected him to take awhile, given that he was drafted from high school. The bad news for him is that the Reds drafted another catcher early this year in Chris Okey, who was taken in the second round, and Okey has already been promoted to Low-A Dayton, where Stephenson was playing prior to the injury.
Stephenson is on the the minor league 7-day DL at Low-A Dayton with a left wrist sprain, according to Reds Assistant Director of Media Relations, Jamie Ramsey.
Stephenson, the Reds' first-round pick in 2015, has really struggled at Dayton this year, hitting .196/.267/.272 in 92 at-bats.
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