Reds prospect Stenson killed in Arizona

By Chris Haft

November 6, 2003

Dernell Stenson

Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson was found dead Wednesday after being shot and run over in Chandler, Ariz. Stenson, 25, was playing for the Arizona Fall League’s Scottsdale Scorpions when he was killed.

No motive was immediately determined for Stenson’s shooting, which Chandler police are still investigating.

“We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to Dernell’s family and his friends, teammates and coaches,” the Reds organization said in a statement.

Chandler police issued a news release stating that officers responded around 1:45 a.m. on Nov. 5 to a phone call that reported shots had being fired. Police discovered Stenson’s body lying in a roadway. Stenson apparently had been shot and run over by a vehicle. Witnesses told police that a black sport utility vehicle was involved and seen leaving the area.

Mesa (Ariz.) police found a vehicle matching that description a couple of hours later. The car, a 2002 Isuzu Rodeo, was registered to Stenson. The driver of the vehicle was being held by Chandler police.

Originally, Stenson wasn’t slated to play in Arizona. He was added to the Scorpions’ roster after outfielder Wily Mo Pena was granted his wish to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic after spending time at Cincinnati’s instructional league camp in Florida. Stenson was thriving in the AFL, ranking third in the league with a .394 batting average and fourth with a .453 on-base percentage through 18 games.

Stenson, whom the Reds claimed off waivers from the Red Sox on Feb. 25, made his major league debut this year after spending seven years in the Red Sox’ minor league system. The lefthanded hitter, a third-round pick in 1996 out of La Grange (Ga.) High, began his professional career with promise, as he was ranked as Boston’s No. 1 prospect in 1998 and 2000.

Stenson was a Southern League all-star this year with the Reds’ Double-A Chattanooga affiliate, batting .306-14-76 in 356 at-bats. He also hit .237-5-14 in 59 at-bats with Triple-A Louisville before being promoted to the Reds on Aug. 13. Appearing in 37 games with the Reds, including 20 starts, Stenson batted .247-3-13.

“You’ve got to take what you can get. You never know how long you’re going to be here,” Stenson told the Cincinnati Enquirer after hitting his first major league home run in August.

The AFL canceled all games scheduled for today after Stenson was found murdered.