With the 11th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds chose catcher Tyler Stephenson from Kennesaw Mountain High School in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was in serious contention for the top overall pick in the draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, though they ultimately selected shortstop Dansby Swanson out of Vanderbilt University.
Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stephenson batted .425 with eight home runs in 25 RBIs in his senior baseball season.
From MLB.com’s Jim Callis, here’s a scouting report on Stephenson:
"“Stephenson’s arm is both strong and accurate, his hands are soft and he demonstrates unusual agility for a player his size. His bat speed, physical strength and the loft in his right-handed stroke give him the power potential to hit 20 homers per season in the big leagues. Though the scout mentioned the length of his swing, Stephenson has produced against quality competition and has the tools to profile as at least a quality regular even if he doesn’t hit for a high average.”"
The comparison you’ll hear over and over with Stephenson is to three-time All-Star and Orioles’ catcher Matt Wieters. Not a bad guy to be compared to.
Here’s a brief video scouting report on Stephenson:
And here’s some video of Stephenson in game action:
Many fans will wonder if the Reds’ first round selection means that Devin Mesoraco‘s future behind the plate is in question, but you have to remember it’ll be several years before Stephenson ever puts on a Cincinnati uniform, especially since he’s fresh out of high school. Unlike the NFL and NBA drafts, MLB teams don’t draft for immediate need, instead they select who they deem to be the best player on the board when their selection rolls around.
There’s also no guarantee Stephenson even stays at catcher, as players move positions all the time in the minor leagues. Joey Votto was drafted as a catcher in 2002 and has become one of the best first basemen in baseball. Considering Stephenson is already quite big for a catcher, it’s possible the Reds move him down the road, though I’d imagine they’ll leave him at catcher since they have little depth at the position in their farm system.
You can follow Stephenson on Twitter at @Tyler_Step22.