Tyler Stephenson, Reds catcher
Tucker Barnhart will be the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day catcher in 2021. However, Tyler Stephenson may be holding that title heading into next season. With Curt Casali now residing in the Bay Area, Stephenson will get a chance to show if last year’s production was for real.
Stephenson will enter Goodyear as the backup, but he may finish the season as the starter. David Bell, as he’s shown in the past, will surely divide time between his two catchers based on the pitching matchup. Barnhart will get the lion’s share of starts versos right-handed pitchers and we’ll likely see Stephenson behind the plate when a southpaw is on the hill.
The rookie comes in with a reputation for being able to hit, and hit with power. We saw that last season when Stephenson homered in his first at-bat and game-winning blast against the Pittsburgh Pirates was arguably the biggest momentum shift for last year’s team before the Reds made their playoff push.
Since the Reds front office did little to nothing to improve the team’s hitting over the winter, a lot of focus will be on Tyler Stephenson’s offensive prowess. It was a small sample size, but Stephenson’s 1.094 OPS is nothing to scoff at.
More than anything, I’m interested to see how Stephenson handles the defensive side of things. Catcher is arguably the most important position on the diamond, and his handling of the pitching staff will be something to keep an eye on this spring and on into the 2021 season.