The 2016 season was one that Tyler Stephenson would have liked to put behind him. A wrist injury cost him a large chunk of the year. The Cincinnati Reds sent the catcher back to Dayton in 2017 and he made up for lost time. After a solid first two weeks in April, Stephenson went on a big run to end the month. In the final 11 games of the month he would hit .366/.458/.488 with as many walks as strikeouts. It capped off a .301/.400/.466 line in 20 games played. He added in six doubles and two home runs to go with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts.

May had some ups-and-downs for Tyler Stephenson.  From May 7th through the 16th he slumped pretty hard, sort of. He hit just .182 with no extra-base hits. At the same time, he drew 10 walks with just three strikeouts in that span. Things would rebound from that point forward as he would hit .268/.353/.351 on the month in 25 games. Stephenson would hit five more doubles and add another home run during the month.

June was a tale of two halves. In the first 14 games for Tyler Stephenson, it was a tough go. The catcher hit just .204 with two doubles. The second half of the month went much better. From the 18th through the end of the month, Stephenson hit .270/.300/.595 with six doubles and two home runs. The slow start was tough to overcome and it’s reflected in his overall line on the month of .233/.323/.395. He would add another eight doubles and two home runs. That also came with 12 walks and 17 strikeouts.

July began well and it kept going that way. Well, until it didn’t. From the 1st through the 14th, over 12 games, he hit .359/.479/.513 with more walks than strikeouts. Unfortunately, July 14th would be the last game of the year for Tyler Stephenson. He injured his thumb and hit the disabled list. Initially it seemed like he would need surgery, but after some rest and a second opinion he didn’t and came back in time to participate in instructional league after the regular season.

Tyler Stephenson

For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Tyler Stephenson Spray Chart

Tyler Stephenson Scouting Report

Hitting | Tyler Stephenson can use the entire field and can hit the ball hard to all parts of the field.

Power | Right now his power is below-average, but there’s above-average raw power in his bat.

Running | He’s a below-average runner, though as a catcher that doesn’t really come into play much.

Arm | From a pop-time standpoint, Stephenson has an above-average arm at his best with pop times in the 1.9-2.0 second range. It’s not always in that range, though – sometimes it’s more average.

Defense | Behind the plate there’s a whole lot of things that go into “defense”. There’s handling the pitching staff, calling a game, receiving the pitch, blocking balls in the dirt, controlling the running game, etc. Stephenson received the ball well during 2017. He was generally quiet behind the plate when the pitcher didn’t miss his spot by large amounts. He’s athletic behind the plate which should translate to being able to block well. Like most catchers his age, he will need to continue to round out all aspects of his defense as he continues to progress.

Offensively, there’s a lot to like with Tyler Stephenson. He’s big, strong, understands the strikezone well, has power potential and makes plenty of contact. Even if he weren’t a catcher, he would project to have a good bat. The fact that it comes as a catcher makes it more rare. Defensively, there’s work to do. He will need to be more consistent with his catch-and-throw skills. Stephenson also was charged with seven passed balls in just 53 games behind the plate – a rate that will need to come down as he moves up the ladder. There were clear improvements defensively for the 20-year-old behind the plate from 2016 to 2017. Those improvements will need to continue, but all of the tools and ability seems to be there for at least an average defensive catcher in the future at the Major League level.


5 Responses

  1. Wes

    Jury is still out on this guy. I don’t think he did enough in the past season to surpass rest of top 10.

  2. The Duke

    Hard for me to get too excited about T Steph until he shows he can play a full season. He’s at least shown enough to start 2018 in Daytona, but I’d like to see him play at least 100 games this year between C and DH (59 in 2015, 39 in 2016, up to 80 in 2017), and preferably a little more. The raw power is definitely there, and when I saw him in Dayton this year even his singles were ripped more often than not. I thought he looked athletic and quiet behind the plate too. I was pleasantly surprised a guy 6’4″ could sit in the crouch that well.

    • MK

      Tyler was as good defensively in 2017 as any Dragons catcher since Tucker Barnhart who set the gold standard. He was much better than Devin Mesoraco was at same level. It is concerning that he has had two years of hand/wrist injuries. At the plate I really like his line drive power to right-center field.

  3. sultanofswaff

    He’s one of my near untouchables. Like Doug says, the bat for a catcher is rare. He’s got a lot of Matt Weiters in him methinks. The health issues were a bit freaky in nature so I don’t put a ton of stock into it, and you could argue it hasn’t affected his timeline. 2018 will be his moving year if all goes well. I’d love to see him finish the year in Pensacola.

  4. CP

    If this kid can finally stay healthy and continue to progress, he could be the perfect compliment to Tucker towards the end of his contract. He can get around a 1.5 years playing with Tucker and learn from him. No doubt that this timeline was in the Reds FO minds when they locked him up Tucker recently.

    Okey was a good depth/contingency pick, but hasn’t lived up to his potential unfortunately. Tyler has the real ceiling to impact the game on both sides of the ball.