Yankees Prospect Profile: Right-hander Trevor Stephan
By Jon Butensky
This week’s Yankees prospect profile focuses on Trevor Stephan, a right-handed starting pitcher who climbed up prospect boards throughout his first full season in the minors.
The 23-year old Stephan was originally drafted in 2016 by the Boston Red Sox in the 18th round out of Hill Junior College, located in Cleburne, Texas. The righty opted not to sign and later transferred to the University of Arkansas. The Yankees then drafted Stephan as the 92nd overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft and gave him a $797,500 signing bonus.
Used mostly as a reliever in his two years (2016-17) at Hill, Stephan made 35 appearances out of the bullpen and only three starts. After transferring to Arkansas for one year, the 6’5″-righty made 16 appearances (all starts) for the Razorbacks.
In 2017 with Arkansas, Stephan went 6-2 with a 2.87 ERA and struck out 120 batters across a team-high 91.0 innings pitched. Stephan’s team-leading 2.87 ERA was 10th best in the SEC and his 120 punch-outs were the fifth-highest by a Razorback in a single-season.
After getting drafted in the 3rd round by New York, Stephan began his professional career in Rookie Ball with the Gulf Coast League Yankees. After one start, the righty was promoted and finished the 2017 season with the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League. Stephan appeared in 10 games (9 starts) with Staten Island, compiling a minuscule 1.39 ERA across 32.1 innings with a 43/6 K/B ratio.
The Magnolia, Texas native started the 2018 campaign with Class-A Tampa. Stephan posted impressive numbers during his limited time with the Tarpons:
Class-A Tampa: 7 G (7 GS), 3-1 W-L, 41.0 IP, 1.98 ERA, 9 R (9 ER), 23 H, 9 BB, 49 K
On May 22, Stephan was assigned to the Trenton Thunder, where he would make the majority of his starts for the season. His numbers at Double-A weren’t lights-out by any means, considering his success in Tampa:
Double-A Trenton: 17 G (17 GS), 3-8 W-L, 83.1 IP, 4.54 ERA, 43 R (42 ER), 80 H, 29 BB, 91 K
However, Stephan’s overall numbers don’t do any justice for the actual success he had in Double-A. Of the 17 starts that Stephan made in Trenton, the righty started nine games in which he pitched at least 5.0 innings and gave up one earned run or fewer. In eight of those nine starts, Stephan gave up five hits or fewer.
Additionally, three of his 17 starts featured outings in which he lasted less than 5.0 innings and surrendered at least six earned runs. These three abysmal starts can explain for Stephan’s bloated ERA in Double-A.
If Stephan can avoid those forgettable starts, his numbers are going to look a lot better in Trenton. It takes time for a pitcher to become comfortable and acclimated at a new level, especially when the competition is more experienced.
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Stephan certainly has swing-and-miss stuff, as he ranked third among Yankees farmhands with 140 strikeouts in 2018. The righty currently features a three-pitch arsenal: Fastball, slider, and changeup.
According to MLB.com, the Yankees #7 ranked prospect’s fastball sits in the 90-95 mph range and can jump to as high as 97 mph. After dropping his curveball for a slider, he is still looking for consistent results, while his changeup is a work in progress.
In regards to the 2019 season, the Yankees announced on Tuesday that Stephan was invited to Major League spring training. While the righty clearly needs more seasoning in the minors, it’s assumed that he will begin the season in Double-A.
If Stephan can simply avoid those few disastrous outings, the righty has certainly solidified himself among the Yankees crop of polished Minor League starting pitchers.
*Fun Fact: Stephan’s father, Bill, provided Topps with the photographs used in multiple 2018 Bowman Baseball products featuring Trevor. Pretty cool if you ask me!