Reds: 3 players most likely to improve league-worst batting average

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds bats. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds bats. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 22: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

3. Tyler Stephenson, Reds catcher

Tyler Stephenson has a ton of pressure on his shoulders heading into the 2021 season. After breaking onto the biggest stage of them all last season with a home run in his first plate appearance and a walk-off against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a lot of fans are hoping for big things from the former first-round pick.

Stephenson’s chances during the early going of the 2021 season are likely to be few and far between. I assure you that David Bell will play Stephenson every chance he gets against left-handed pitcher, but Tucker Barnhart will get the lion’s share of starts, especially against right-handed hurlers.

Where Stephenson fits into the Reds batting order when he’s inserted into the lineup will be interesting to follow. I’m guessing that either Shogo Akiyama or Nick Senzel will bat leadoff with the quintet of Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suárez, Mike Moustakas, and Jesse Winker to follow.

That basically tells me that Stephenson is likely to find a home near the back of the Reds batting order; most likely slotted behind Moustakas or Winker and in front of Kyle Farmer or Dee Strange-Gordon. Will Stephenson be counted on to get on base or drive runs home? Regardless, the right-handed hitting rookie will get his opportunities in 2021.

Next. Projecting the Reds 2022 starting rotation

Tyler Stephenson never played Triple-A, but his slash line at Double-A Chattanooga (.285/.372/.410) is encouraging. Stephenson also brought the wood during the Arizona Fall League in 2019 where he hit .347/.418/.490. Reds fans will be looking for Stephenson to help an offense that never really got going in 2020.