Over the years, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has made multiple under-the-radar signings that have bailed the team out in more ways than one. Most notably, Tyler Matzek absolutely saved the Braves against the Dodgers in the 2021 NLCS, striking out the side in a bases loaded jam. This year, Anthopoulos may have found another key bullpen piece for cheap:
Jackson Stephens, Nasty 77mph Curveball. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/5nbEjMuQfH
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 22, 2022
In Venezuela, Jackson Stephens had Wi-Fi at the hotel and the ballpark. He used iMessage and FaceTime to talk to his wife, but everything there was a culture shock.
Now he's balling for the Braves. He leads the Braves notes today: https://t.co/YDbsCqiHUw
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) May 20, 2022
Much like Matzek, who was playing Independent League Baseball, Stephens was playing Independent and Mexican League Baseball after flaming out of the league with the Reds in 2018. And he has been fantastic in 2022:
Jackson Stephens (2022): 14.2 IP, 17 K, 1.23 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
What’s more impressive is Stephens sports a 2.72 FIP, which indicates this isn’t a fluke… so far. It is a pretty small sample size, so we’ll need to see a few more innings before declaring Stephens the next big piece of this bullpen, but he deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done so far. Let’s hope he keeps up the good work, because he has been a great story and a key piece of the 2022 Braves.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire