Reds' Stephenson Has Electric Fastball
CINCINNATI — Robert Stephenson, like everyone else in the park, took notice. Stephenson's fastball registered an even 100 mph on the scoreboard readout at Fifth Third Park in Dayton.
"Yeah, it was pretty cool," he said. "I shouldn't really look at it too much. But it's definitely cool to be able to say I threw 100."
Stephenson, a 19-year-old righthander, was the Reds' first-round pick (27th overall) in 2011. He didn't sign until just before the Aug. 15 deadline, so his professional career didn't begin until the 2012 season.
Stephenson started the year at Rookie-level Billings. He went 1-0, 2.05 in seven starts there. He struck out 37, walked eight and allowed 22 hits over 31 innings before being promoted to low Class A Dayton. He went 2-4, 4.19 there with 35 strikeouts and 15 walks over 34 innings.
The adjustment from Alhambra High in Martinez, Calif., was a big one. Stephenson threw back-to-back no-hitters in high school.
"You have to be a lot more cautious throughout the lineup than in high school," he said. "The hitters are a lot better. On the other side, the fielders behind you are a lot better. But when there are tough hitters throughout the lineup, it's a lot more difficult."
Stephenson obviously has some serious zip on his fastball—as the 100 mph reading would attest. His fastball normally sits at 94-97. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. He has a splitter, but the Reds have shelved that for now.
"We may add it later," he said. "They're going to see if I can get by without it."
Stephenson is expected to start the 2013 season at Dayton. He says he'll concentrate on refining his secondary pitches.
"I think the biggest thing for me right now is working on my changeup," he said. "And I didn't throw my two-seam at all last year because my pitching coach at Billings wanted me to focus on my four-seam and how to locate it. I want to work on the two-seam this year, so I don't just (throw) the four-seam, which is a pretty straight pitch. I'd like something with movement."
• The Reds promoted manager Delino DeShields from Dayton to take over Double-A Pensacola. Ken Griffey Sr. will return to high Class A Bakersfield. Jose Nieves will take over at Dayton.
• The Reds signed 7-foot-1 Dutch righthander Loek Van Mil to a minor league deal. The 28-year-old is 12-16, 3.18 in 320 career minor league innings.