With the 11th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds selected Tyler Stephenson, a 19-year-old catcher from Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia. They used their first pick to select a high upside player at a position of need. He began his professional career as one of the Reds’ top prospects and lived up to that hype throughout his entire trip to the Major Leagues. Today, we will look into the effects of the recent injury of Tyler Stephenson.
On July 27, 2020, the 23-year-old prospect made his debut. And he did not disappoint. He finished the game 2 /2 with two runs scored, two RBIs, a walk and a home run. He only appeared in eight games, tallying just 20 plate appearances that season.
In 2021, the Reds tended to platoon their catchers, with Stephenson getting most at-bats against a left-handed pitcher and Tucker Barnhart getting the at-bats against a right-handed pitcher. Stephenson thrived in his 350 at-bats. He ended the season with a .286/.366/.431 slash line. To go along with that, he added 21 doubles, 10 home runs and 45 RBIs. This was good enough for sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
The Reds needed to give Stephenson the keys to the team in 2022. This is exactly what they did. He is the Reds catcher of the future.
A Hot Start to 2022
Since returning from the injured list on May 4th, Tyler Stephenson is slashing .333/.375/.495 with an OPS of .870 and wRC+ of 139
His 25 RBI after his return is the most among all catchers in that span
He is only 25 years old pic.twitter.com/yYJobpVoLC
— ATBBTTR (@ATBBTTR) June 8, 2022
Stephenson has been the Reds’ best player in 2022. He has had a tremendous impact on the team. In fact, they are 17-22 in games that Stephenson appears. That record doesn’t seem too absurd until you consider that the Reds are 4-17 when he doesn’t appear. This season, he is slashing an impressive .305/.361/.468.
He has missed some time with a concussion already this season. Despite the missed time, he ranks near the top of the league in many statistics for catchers. He leads all catchers in RBIs (31) while being top 10 amongst catchers in AVG(.305), doubles(8), and OPS(.829). Stephenson was playing so well that the Reds players, coaches, and fans began to push for his case to be the NL starting catcher in the All-Star Game.
On June 9, Stephenson was hit with a foul ball off of his bare throwing hand. The result of this play was a fractured thumb. This injury would sideline him for 4-6 weeks, halting any push for an All-Star game appearance for the young catcher.
The Impact of His Loss
Tyler Stephenson left today’s game after a foul tip hit his throwing hand pic.twitter.com/XBPzL6Vl12
— ATBBTTR (@ATBBTTR) June 9, 2022
The Reds will feel the impact of his loss tremendously. They are a struggling 4-17 without him this season. They have two catchers remaining on roster, one being Chris Okey, who was recently called up to make his Major League debut. The Reds are not the same team without their young start behind the dish.
Not only is this injury going to stunt the Reds’ season, but it could also affect Stephenson’s growth as a player. Missing significant time could stunt any player’s growth, let alone a young player that is still trying to find his footing amongst the veterans in the league.
The sophomore star is going to need to make a speedy and full recovery from this injury. The more important word being full. The Reds will likely not be in a rush to get him back to the field, as they would not want to risk a reinjury to one of the future faces of the franchise.
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