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Prospect Stephenson soaking it all in

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Possibly the next young pitching sensation to rise all the way through the organization, Reds top prospect Robert Stephenson is learning all he can during his first big league camp.

Stephenson was named last month by as baseball's No. 19 overall prospect and the No. 7 right-handed pitcher. He was the Reds' first-round Draft pick (No. 27 overall) in 2011.

"It's been a great experience so far," said Stephenson, in camp as a non-roster invite. "I've gotten to meet the guys and the coaches and been able to work with them. It's something that definitely helps me for the future."

In 22 starts combined at Class A Dayton, Class A Bakersfield and Pensacola last season, Stephenson was 7-7 with 2.99 ERA. Over 114 1/3 innings, he gave up 92 hits, 35 walks while striking out 136. He routinely throws 96-98 mph and is capable of touching 100.

Stephenson, 21, is likely to begin the 2014 season at Pensacola, but can't be ruled out for a big league callup before the year is done.

"That's definitely the goal for this year for me. I want to do anything it takes to get there," Stephenson said.

Stephenson debuted this spring in the sixth inning Friday against the Indians. After notching two quick outs, he had trouble closing out the inning. After a two-out walk and a single with two strikes, he had Carlos Moncrief in a 0-2 count and allowed a RBI single to right field. A second run scored when there was a throwing error on the play.

"It was my first one. It was fun and good to have it out of the way now," Stephenson said. "I was pushing stuff out. I was trying to work on my two-seamer and I started it on the corner and it was running off of the plate. It's something I want to work on. I was just kind of missing outside a little when I walked that guy and the inning just sped up for me."

Stephenson is among the pitchers scheduled to work Monday, when the Reds play the Mariners.

"I just need to work on consistency," Stephenson said. "There are days when I do everything right and feel like I can pitch up there. There are other days when I feel inconsistent and couldn't get an A-ball hitter out."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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