Stephenson is currently ranked as the Cincinnati Reds #7 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. He was the Cincinnati Reds first round selection (11th overall pick) in the 2015 draft out of Kennesaw Mountain High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.
2019 Season: Stephenson continued his climb through the Reds farm system by making a successful jump to the Double-A level, spending the entire year with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League. At the age of 22, Stephenson was young for this level of competition in a league that was absolutely stacked with many of baseball's top prospects, but he more than held his own. He batted .285 and added six home runs in 89 games, posting a .782 OPS (league average was .683). He was also selected as the "Best Defensive Catcher" in the league in a Baseball America survey of league managers. He had a good second half, batting .306, and a great finish to the season, batting .352 in August and September with a .927 OPS. After the regular season ended, the Reds sent Stephenson to the prestigious Arizona Fall League to gain more experience, and he performed exceptionally well, batting .347 with seven extra base hits in 13 games while connecting on a home run in the league's Fall Star Game.
With the Dragons: Stephenson spent parts of two seasons with the Dragons, appearing in a total of 119 games in a Dayton uniform. He arrived in 2016 after being taken in the first round the previous June by the Reds and then returned for 80 games in 2017 and played in the Midwest League All-Star Game as a key member of the Dragons playoff club. Stephenson's 2017 season ended on July 14 when he suffered a thumb injury, but he finished the year batting .278 with six home runs. His 50 RBI ranked seventh in the league at the time of the injury.
Outlook: Stephenson is poised to continue his climb toward the Major Leagues in 2020. He will be added to the Reds 40-man roster for the first time this fall, should see lots of action in spring training games with the Reds in February and March, and would be expected to begin the year with Triple-A Louisville.
Fun Facts: Stephenson was an extremely popular player in Dayton with fans, teammates, and media due to his friendly and mature personality. Those who remember him with the Dragons were not surprised when Stephenson won the 2019 Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award, which is given to one player in the Arizona Fall League who "best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work, and leadership"…Stephenson was the first catcher selected in the 2016 draft. The next season, he became the second first round catcher to play for the Dragons. Devin Mesoraco, an eventual MLB All-Star with the Reds, was the first. Mesoraco played in Dayton in 2008 after being drafted in the first round the previous June.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.