Reds righty Robert Stephenson kept carving up Low-A hitters with Walt Jocketty in attendance last night.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K; elite fastball; plus curveball; developing changeup that has a solid-average ceiling; athletic frame; carving up Low-A competition; frontline starter potential; 59.2 IP, 49 H, 22 ER, 16 BB, 77 K in 11 starts.
Updates on Raul Adalberto Mondesi, Addison Russell, Mason Williams, Robert Stephenson, and others.
Raul Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Royals (Low-A Lexington)
As much as I enjoy referring to Adalberto Mondesi as Adalberto Mondesi, the young shortstop has expressed his desire to be called by the first name that appears on his birth certificate, which just happens to be the same as his familiar father’s—a former rookie of the year--and his less-than-familiar older brother’s. Hey, if it works, keep working it. Raul Adalberto, which is still a cool sounding name, is one of my favorite prospects to watch, and on a short list of my favorite prospects to monitor and write about. He’s a 17-year-old playing a premium position at a full-season level, so the excitement can exist regardless of the on-the-field outcomes. Context is always a vital part of the evaluation process, as a prospect’s status or sudden rise in status can often put a spotlight on production [itself] at the expense of the specifics surrounding that production. Mondesi has struggled at times this season, and that can lead to overreactions and assumptions that aren’t tethered to the reality of the situation. Mondesi has struggled--no doubt --but he hasn’t been overwhelmed by the level of competition; he belongs at this level despite the poor statistical line. Coming into last night’s game, Mondesi was hitting an anemic .195/.205/.293 in May, which isn’t going to keep his name dripping from the tip of any Pavlovian tongue. But the talent to develop into something very special lives inside of Raul, son of Raul/brother of Raul, and it’s only a matter of time before his positive developmental steps show up on the stat sheet. He hit for the cycle last night. It’s a one-game sample, but bring the context back into the equation. Raul –son of Raul/brother of Raul—is a 17-year-old playing in a full-season league. The fact that he can show glimpses or flashes of brilliance at that level at his age is absolutely remarkable. This isn’t a normal prospect. –Jason Parks
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Low-A, Dayton)
Through the first seven weeks of the season, Robert Stephenson has carved up the Midwest League to the tune of 11.6 strikeouts per nine (punching out about one out of every three batters faced) and just 2.4 BB/9, all while holding the opposition to just a .240 batting average. Stephenson was the 27th overall selection in a stacked 2011 draft class, and as impressive as his stuff was out of the scholastic ranks it has bumped up across the board in 2013. His fastball is comfortably sitting mid-90s, climbing to 98 mph on occasion. He pounds the bottom of the zone on a tough downward plane, making him tough to square and helping him to produce a 45 percent groundball rate thus far this spring. His breaker is a hard curve that vacillates between 11-to-5 and 12-to-6 action, working best in the 80-82 mph range. It easily projects to a plus offering, though it plays closer to average right now due to inconsistent execution, which leads to a fair share of hangers. The changeup is still a work in progress, but Stephenson has already shown improvement in his feel for the pitch compared to early April. You can see start-to-start growth in Stephenson's game, particularly in his pitch execution and sequencing, and he's doing the little things, as well, including improving his pacing and set durations from the stretch (which, combined with 1.19-to-1.27 times to the plate makes him difficult to run on). Through 10 starts, Stephenson has made a strong case for being the top arm currently tossing in the Midwest League, and should be included in any discussion regarding the top arms in the minors. --Nick J. Faleris
In-person evaluations of Robert Stephenson, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, Henry Owens, Chris Withrow, and Taijuan Walker.
When I stepped away from the second chair and into Kevin Goldstein’s vacated spot on the stage, I decided that the spine of my prospect architecture would be eyewitness scouting evaluations. The goal was not to portray myself or other members of the prospect team as industry-level scouts; being a fabulist wouldn’t benefit the product or the public paying for that product. The goal was to offer evaluations from a more personal point of view, reports that originated at the fields instead of on the phones or the search engines. I put together a team of talent evaluators I felt had the chops to sit in the stands and document the action on the field in an authentic manner. I wanted to hire the type of talent that would one day receive the bait from the private sector, joining up with the industry that I learn from on a daily basis. That team is in place.
Going forward, Baseball Prospectus will publish a weekly series featuring eyewitness evaluations from the staff, complete with scouting grades, detailed notes and (in many cases) video. These reports will attach to the player cards and offer a wealth of information throughout the season; with multiple looks from multiple sources, you will be able to track a prospect’s progression through the developmental process. As the games continue and we populate the minor-league stadiums around the country, the reports will start to pile up, and hopefully the season will conclude with a healthy reservoir of reports for you to pick through, compare, contrast, dissect and disagree with. I can’t think of a better means to study the minor-league process than with a collection of scouting reports from quality eyes, provided over the course of a season, and if everything continues as planned, for the duration of the players’ prospect journeys.