Stephenson could be among Reds' callups

Club's top pitching prospect activated off DL at Triple-A

Stephenson could be among Reds' callups

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have yet to finalize or reveal who their September callups might be, but it seems possible that top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson would be among them.

"Those are conversations I'll have with Walt [Jocketty, the Reds' general manager] when we finalize the roster of guys that are coming up," Reds manager Bryan Price said Thursday. "I just don't have the ability or the right to tell you guys who would be coming up because we haven't had that final conversation. There's a chance he could be a part of that September conversation."

Ranked by MLB.com as the Reds' No. 2 overall prospect, Stephenson has been activated from Triple-A Louisville's disabled list to start Thursday night vs. Indianapolis. A wrist cramp put him out of his Aug. 12 start and was later diagnosed as a right forearm strain.

In 22 starts combined for Louisville and Double-A Pensacola, Stephenson is 8-9 with a 3.59 ERA, but reports before the injury indicated he was looking better since moving up to Triple-A.

Stephenson, 22, entered Thursday with 120 1/3 innings after he had 136 last year for Pensacola.

"So he's got some room to pitch," Price said.

But he doesn't have much time left. Louisville's season ends Sept. 7 and Price would like to see Stephenson increase his innings total. He is not on the 40-man roster, so it would require an extra move to bring him up.

"The importance of this for these guys is that so next year we're not looking at guys and saying we can pitch them 150-165 innings because they're going to finish the year here or stay the whole year, it's a six-month season and you have to pitch in September," Price said. "You're seeing the issues we have here, guys run out of innings in September and then with the injuries we've had, in September you run out of guys that are options to start in the final month of the year. He needs to get those innings up to where we can say he can safely throw 185-190 innings next year and that should safely cover a six-month season."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.