Seth Stephenson has elite speed that has caused professional scouts to take notice. He has been clocked running the 60-yard dash as fast as 6.19 seconds.
Stephenson, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound shortstop at Temple College in Texas, gained attention because of his speed. But his offensive production this spring has caused him to move up MLB draft boards.
Scouts believe Stephenson could hear his name called in the first five rounds of July’s draft. Stephenson has made a tremendous rise into the prospect spotlight after receiving one Division I college offer out of high school in 2019.
“It all has been a blessing,” Stephenson said. “It all has come so quick. I don’t know how even to explain it. It’s just been crazy. It’s God working for sure. It has been fun performing and getting the recognition for all the hard work I have put in over the years.”
Stephenson was off to a strong start in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He tallied three doubles, six triples, seven RBIs and a .318 batting average in 88 at-bats in 23 games.
This spring, Stephenson hit for more power at the plate after adding strength to his frame and refining his swing in the offseason. He hit .383 with 13 doubles, eight triples, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 193 at-bats in 51 games.
After going a perfect 8 for 8 on stolen base attempts in 2020, Stephenson stole 31 bases in 35 tries this season.
His elite speed allows him to be a dynamic player on the bases and steal bases with ease. It also allows him to profile at numerous defensive positions in the future. While he has the skills to stick at shortstop long-term, some scouts believe he profiles better at second base or center field in pro ball.
Regardless of his future defensive position, his top-of-the-scale athleticism and speed will make him an intriguing draft prospect.
“I think my speed is my biggest strength,” Stephenson said. “You just can’t teach speed. It is something God has blessed me with. I definitely think that is my best tool.”
Stephenson spent most of his sophomore season batting right-handed, minus about a dozen at-bats where he switched over to the left side. Despite the limited at-bats on the left side, he took batting practice from both sides of the plate consistently.
Stephenson can switch hit. He isn’t a prototypical switch hitter, though. He doesn’t always hit on the opposite side of the pitcher’s throwing arm, as he prefers to just hit from the side he has more confidence on at that given time, he said.
This offseason, Stephenson hopes to refine his skills and approach at the plate.
“I really want to work on having patience at the plate and making sure I pick good pitches to drive,” Stephenson said. “I feel like I have been an early count hitter. Although I don’t think that is a bad thing, if I can be in the middle of being aggressive and being patient, then it could make me a lot better.”
Besides his status as a well-regarded draft prospect, Stephenson also is a University of Tennessee commit. While there is a strong possibility Stephenson turns pro this summer, he is eager for the opportunity to play in college baseball’s top conference if the draft doesn’t transpire as he anticipates.
“Coach (Tony) Vitello has been changing that program around really well,” Stephenson said. “It has always been a dream of mine to play in the SEC. They were the first school to give me a chance. I feel like I can go make an impact in that program.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.