Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2020: Trevor Stephan (RHP, #24)
Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with RHP Trevor Stephan.
At one time, Stephan was the Yankees #7 overall prospect, which he earned from jumping from college to Double-A ball less than a year after signing to go professional. However, after a command and control-less season in 2019 with back injuries and a demotion, Stephan’s stock dropped rapidly. He still has a potential MLB future, but it’s looking more and more like that will be in a relief role than anything else.
(Screenshot From New York Yankees Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZXv_4Ri5xM)
Trevor Stephan, RHP (#24):
Age/Date of Birth: 24 Years Old (11/25/1995)
2019 Team(s): Trenton Thunder (Double-A)
2019 MiLB Statistics: 4-7 Record, 4.73 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 80.0 Innings, 86 Hits, 91 Strikeouts, 29 Walks (20 Games, 19 Games Started)
Height/Weight: 6’5”/225 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted by the New York Yankees with the 92nd Pick (3rd Round) of the 2017 MLB Draft
MLB ETA: 2021
Trevor Stephan Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
Coming into the 2017 MLB Draft, Trevor Stephan was the 87th ranked draft prospect coming out of the University of Arkansas. Originally a first baseman in High School, Stephan only had 2 years of experience as a pitcher before being originally drafted in 2016 by the Boston Red Sox in the 18th Round. A year later, after opting to transfer from Hill College, the Yankees used their 3rd Round (92nd Overall) pick to draft him, signing to an above slot bonus of $797,500 (slot value of $588,700). A day after signing, Stephan began his professional career.
As with many college players the Yankees sign, they first get sent to the Gulf Coast League where they get to show their stuff in a low stress environment against younger and less developed players. Stephan spent 2 innings there, and just 3 days after going professional was headed to the New York-Penn League wih the Staten Island Yankees (Class A Short Season). He spent 10 games there, pitching 32.1 innings to a 1.39 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP over 32.1 innings. This great start propelled Stephan to his first prospect list, ranking #28 at seasons end.
After the offseason, Stephan’s stock was greatly increased to 15th in the farm system as he started the season with the Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced). It didn’t take long for Stephan to continue to dominate where he was playing, and after 7 games in which he threw 41.0 innings to a 1.98 ERA and 0.78 WHIP he was promoted to the Trenton Thunder (Double A). In just under a year since signing, Stephan spent 17 games with the Thunder where he found his first real challenge as a professional. He pitched 83.1 innings to a 4.54 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP, and was promising enough to pump up to being the #7 prospect in the Yankees farm system.
His 2019 season started out with a non-roster invite to Spring Training, but quickly took a turn for the worse as after 4 games he ended up on the IL with a back injury which kept him out from April 23rd to May 17th. Spending another 6 games through the rest of May and most of June, Stephan showed lack of control and command as he had a 6.27 ERA at the time of his demotion to the Tampa Tarpons. In 8 games there, Stephan continued to struggle until the end of July when he threw a 7 inning no-hitter. This helped him drop a 7.88 ERA to 4.01 in 3 straight games, earning him a spot back with the Thunder for his final two games of the season where he allowed only 1 run over 9 innings before going back on the IL. Improvements at the end of the season couldn’t help his prospect stock from dropping as he went from #8 to #15 after the draft, and has now ended up at #24.
Overall, Trevor Stephan is a fastball-oriented pitcher, sitting around 91-96 MPH, with a good mid-80s slider and a still developing changeup. While he was seemingly on a path to a future as a rotation piece, his 2019 season helped confirm to many that his future seems brightest as a reliever. If his command and control comes back to pre-2019 form, Stephan could surprise, but he needs to really develop his changeup if he wants to stay in a rotation for the long-term.
What Will the Future Hold?
It’s telling that the New York Yankees didn’t offer a non-roster invite to Spring Training to Trevor Stephan this year. Previously seen as one of the best prospects the Yankees had, Stephan’s story goes to show that TINSTAAPP is partially true (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect), although scouts from the beginning were wondering about his future as a starter before 2019. He has a lot to prove in 2020, but very well could make it as a bullpen piece in Triple-A, and from there maybe be a potential big league shuttle-arm. It truly depends on if the Yankees think they can keep him in the rotation for the long-term or not. This may be the season that that gets determined.
Stephan is definitely going to continue to sit around the lower ends of prospect rankings, as his floor is nothing incredibly special and his ceiling is continuing to drop. He has a potential big league future ahead of him but may not see that career for many years if he is just a middling relief arm. As the Yankees continue to bolster one of the best bullpens in baseball, it’s seeming more and more like Stephan’s MLB future may be destined by being a throw-in trade piece or a Rule 5 pick.