Cincinnati Reds: Ranking the rookie performances of the 2020 season

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a solo home run.
CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a solo home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

2. Tyler Stephenson, Reds catcher

There might not be a more exciting prospect in the Cincinnati Reds farm system, outside of Hunter Greene, than Tyler Stephenson. The Georgia-native made a huge impact in limited opportunities this past season, and the Reds front office may have found their answer to the offensive struggles behind the plate.

Though it was in limited at-bats, Stephenson slashed .294/.400/.647 with two home runs and six RBIs. Stephenson’s very first hit was a home run against the Chicago Cubs and his pinch-hit, walk-off homer against the Pittsburgh Pirates may have been the catalyst for Cincinnati’s late-season surge that saw the Reds in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

I honestly struggled to put Stephenson ahead of Akiyama, mainly because of the disparity in playing time. But the impact that Stephenson had in limited at-bats was outstanding. Given the Reds struggles in terms of offense from the catcher’s spot, David Bell’s going to be hard-pressed to keep Stephenson out of thee starting lineup on a regular basis.

The Cincinnati Reds have two solid starting catchers in Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali. Barnhart is a Gold Glove caliber defender behind the dish and Casali is well liked by the pitching staff and throughout the clubhouse. However, the offensive potential of Tyler Stephenson cannot be undervalued and he’s likely to be in the mix as the starting catcher heading into 2021.