School: Rice; Class: RS Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-1; Weight: 185
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: This season the redshirt junior made his way back from Tommy John surgery – courtesy of Arm Shredder U., which sports some illustrious names like Phil Humber, Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend, and Joe Savery – and has performed better than expected.
The injury, which opened the door for Zech Lemond, another personal favorite of mine, limited Stephens to just three starts last season (14.0 IP, 15 K, 5 BB). This season, however, Stephens has appeared in 17 games (11 starts) and averaged career bests in strikeout and walk rates (11.31 K/9 and 2.56 BB/9, respectively).
For his career Stephens has posted a 230-to-78 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 231 innings of work.
Projection: Obviously, there’s some additional risk – admitted or not – with hurlers coming out of Rice University. And Stephens is no different. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound hurler looked like a potential first round pick heading into his junior season – something that looked to be coming to fruition through his first three starts last year – and his overall production in 2015 measures up with the best of them: his strikeout rate ranks 17th among all DI hurlers.
He’s shown a strong ability to miss bats and limit free passes, something that would suggest at least middle-of-the-rotation potential. But, again, the injury coupled with Rice’s history doesn’t bode well.
Stephens would be an excellent gamble for a team in the second round, one that could easily exceed expectations – if he doesn’t self-imploded.
Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player
Floor: 1.0-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
Grade: Second Round
Photo Courtesy of Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle via chron.com.