2018 Top Prospect Rank: 18
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 6
Stephens, a native of Alvin, Texas, played college ball for the nearby Rice Owls. He was considered by many scouts at the time of his junior season to be in line for a selection in the third round. However, three starts into that season, Stephens was injured and required Tommy John surgery, missing the remainder of the season. Thus, Stephens returned to Rice for his senior season and pitched surprisingly well: 3.17 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 59 2⁄3 innings, allowing just 51 hits and 17 walks (2.56 BB/9) while striking out 75 (11.31 K/9). Due to his competitiveness and the results he posted during his four-year stint with Rice, Stephens was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft — ultimately receiving a signing bonus of $300,000.
Stephens’ results were solid from 2015-17, as he moved through the White Sox system quite rapidly while striking out more than one batter per inning and maintaining solid peripheral numbers in the process. He missed the first two months of 2017 with forearm tendinitis but still pitched effectively, with a 3.14 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 91 2⁄3 innings, allowing 84 hits (.249 OBA) and 35 walks (3.44 BB/9) while striking out 83 (8.15 K/9).
In 2018, after a return to Birmingham for seven blistering starts, Stephens was promoted to Charlotte, where he struggled a bit. For the Knights in 21 starts (107 innings), Stephens posted a 4.71 ERA and 1.46 WHIP — allowing 114 hits (.271 OBA) and 42 walks (3.53 BB/9) while striking out 99 (8.33 K/9). Lefties hit .296 against his offerings at Triple-A, while righties hit just .242, and a similar differential occurred with Birmingham as well.
Stephens’ top pitch is an excellent, upper-70s curveball with good depth. While his fastball isn’t overpowering, the low-90s velocity is still effective because of the way he hides and locates it. He also has a cutter and changeup, which still need work due to his lack of results against lefties.
Because of issues Stephens has had staying healthy both in the college and professional levels, and due to his relatively small size and bulldog mentality, a switch to the bullpen may eventually be in order.
The fact that the White Sox chose to add him to the 40-man roster this offseason over the likes of both Spencer Adams and Jordan Guerrero, was an indication that Stephens had the inside track to an early promotion in 2019. However, things haven’t worked out very well for Stephens in the first seven weeks of the season. In six starts, Stephens carries a 9.48 ERA and 1.915 WHIP, although thanks to the tubthumping Charlotte offense, has a 2-3 record. He’s currently on the injured list with a broken left (glove) hand.
Take a look!
Jordan Stephens spots a hook to end a 1-2-3 1st inning. He was 90-91 per the Charlotte stadium gun, which ran a little cold last year pic.twitter.com/eGvrfbv8dH— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 21, 2018
This one’s for you, Trooper Galactus.
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