Catchers generally have good recall, and Tyler Stephenson is no different.Cincinnati's seventh-ranked prospect posted his third three-hit effort in the past four games -- and fourth multi-hit showing in five -- as Double-A Chattanooga lost to Montgomery, 9-4, on Monday night at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.
Catchers generally have good recall, and Tyler Stephenson is no different.
Cincinnati's seventh-ranked prospect posted his third three-hit effort in the past four games -- and fourth multi-hit showing in five -- as Double-A Chattanooga lost to Montgomery, 9-4, on Monday night at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.
For the 11th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, it's the one game in that stretch in which he didn't get two hits -- Friday against the Biscuits -- that he remembers in detail.
"It was one of those in-betweeners, a hit to right field," Stephenson said. "The runner on first [Ibandel Isabel] was caught between first and second and didn't know if it was going to fall [for a hit]. [Rays No. 12 prospect] Josh Lowe got it, threw to second for an out and a fielder's choice."
Stephenson followed that game with back-to-back three-hit efforts, including a perfect night at the plate Monday, going 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. His average jumped to .289, its highest mark since May 11.
"All year, I'm happy with how I've been hitting," he added. "It's just one of those things where the ball falls at the right time. I'm recognizing pitches and not missing."
Gameday box score
The 22-year-old backstop grounded a single into center field off right-hander Wendolyn Bautista (1-1) with two outs in the second inning and walked in the fourth. In the sixth, Stephenson followed Jonathan India's first Double-A homer with a base hit to left and scored on a single by Michael Beltre during the Lookouts' three-run frame.
"He's a great player," Stephenson said of India, the Reds' third-ranked prospect, who was promoted from Class A Advanced Daytona on July 22. "He hits the ball really well. It's an honor to get to play with him now.
"We were in the same graduating class , and he went to Florida and I was drafted. We'd met a few times before, during Perfect Game and showcases. ... He can hit; he's been hitting the ball right at guys. Tonight, he got that first home run."
Facing righty Ian Gardeck in the eighth, Stephenson laced a double to right, but was left stranded at third.
He has gone 15-for-33 (.455) over the last 10 outings with five-multi-hit contests, nine RBIs and seven runs.
Even with success at the plate, the Kennesaw, Georgia, native understands swinging the bat is only half of his job.
"I was fortunate to grow up blessed with good coaches," Stephenson said. "At a young age, I was told, 'You play two positions -- hitter and catcher.' I have never forgotten that.
"You can win a game with hitting, but you can lose a game quickly catching. I was fortunate to learn that."
Any time Cincinnati and catching is in the same conversation, Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is sure to be mentioned. Yes, Stephenson has met the two-time National League MVP and looks forward to gleaning more from the Reds' legend.
"I met him last year, for about five minutes, in West Palm Beach," the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder said. "It was unbelievable. I hope to sit down with him again. It was surreal.
"There was a ["MLB Presents"] on him that I watched. My parents grew up watching Johnny Bench, but there is so much I didn't know -- commercials, TV shows. He loved the spotlight."
As for possibly following in Bench's footsteps, Stephenson isn't looking that far ahead.
"For me, it hasn't set in. I don't think it will until I'm in that first big league stadium," he said. "I'm just playing the game I love. One day, hopefully I'll get called up, step in that stadium and then it will be a dream come true."
Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB.