Two weeks ago, Reds' No. 1 prospect Robert Stephenson and Marlins' No. 3 prospect Justin Nicolino were teammates representing the South Division in the Southern League All-Star Game. Wednesday night they will face off in a game that highlights the Minor League slate.
Stephenson and Nicolino, ranked 16th and 63rd, respectively, on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, both appeared in the South's victory in the All-Star Game on June 17, but will now oppose each other for the first time in their careers. Stephenson and Double-A Pensacola host Nicolino and Jacksonville at 7:30 p.m. ET in a game that will be shown on MiLB.TV.
Despite his All-Star selection, Stephenson will be looking to move on from a rough June. He went 1-2 with a 6.38 ERA in five starts last month.
Overall this season, Stephenson is 3-6 with a 4.17 ERA. He has struck out 85 batters and walked 41 in 82 innings. He ranks second in the Southern League in strikeouts, trailing only Dodgers' No. 6 prospect Chris Reed, who has 95.
Stephenson will hope to get some offensive support from outfielder Jesse Winker, the Reds' No. 3 prospect and No. 87 overall. Winker began the season with Class A Advanced Bakersfield and was promoted after the All-Star break. He has reached base in all 12 games since he joined the Blue Wahoos, and on Tuesday he hit his first Double-A home run. Winker has posted a .298/.413/.536 slash line with 14 home runs between Bakersfield and Pensacola this season.
Nicolino enters Wednesday's game having won seven consecutive decisions, a streak that spans 14 starts and dates back to April. He lost his first two starts of the season, but hasn't been charged with a loss since April 12. He has been especially good of late and had a streak of six straight quality starts snapped when he threw only five innings in his last outing.
Nicolino is 7-2 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP this season. He has struck out 43 batters and walked 10 in 96 2/3 innings.
Jacksonville's offense is led by catcher J.T. Realmuto, the Marlins' No. 8 prospect. Realmuto made his Major League debut last month, but has spent the bulk of his season in Double-A. He is hitting .302/.367/.497 with six home runs in 53 games for the Suns this season.
In addition to Nicolino and Stephenson, a few other pitchers ranked on the Top 100 are scheduled to start Wednesday, including Lucas Giolito (No. 36) Mike Foltynewicz (No. 46), Jimmy Nelson (No. 65), Matt Barnes (No. 68), Robbie Ray (No. 79) and Sean Manaea (No. 96). Fans can watch Foltynewicz, Nelson, Barnes and Ray on MiLB.TV, beginning with Barnes and Triple-A Pawtucket, which hosts Rochester at 6:15 p.m.
Top prospect probables:
Cody Anderson (Indians' No. 3), Akron at Erie
Barnes (Red Sox No. 6), Pawtucket vs. Rochester
Aaron Blair (D-backs' No. 3), Visalia vs. Bakersfield
Parker Bridwell (Orioles' No. 15), Frederick vs. Salem
Alex Colome (Rays' No. 5), Durham vs. Gwinnett
Zach Davies (Orioles' No. 12), Bowie vs. Altoona
Anthony DeSclafani (Marlins' No. 5), New Orleans vs. Round Rock
Foltynewicz (Astros' No. 5), Oklahoma City at Colorado Springs
Domingo German (Marlins' No. 20), Greensboro at Lexington
Giolito (Nationals' No. 1), Hagerstown at Lakewood
Brian Johnson (Red Sox No. 12), Portland at Trenton
Matthew Koch (Mets' No. 19), St. Lucie at Charlotte
Cody Kukuk (Red Sox No. 16), Salem at Frederick
Jorge Lopez (Brewers' No. 19), Brevard County vs. Daytona
Manaea (Royals' No. 4), Wilmington vs. Potomac
Bryan Mitchell (Yankees' No. 13), Trenton vs. Portland
Nelson (Brewers' No. 1), Nashville vs. Memphis
Nicolino (Marlins' No. 3), Jacksonville at Pensacola
Victor Payano (Rangers' No. 14), Myrtle Beach vs. Winston-Salem
Ray (Tigers' No. 1), Toledo vs. Columbus
Alex Reyes (Cardinals' No. 5), Peoria at Kane County
Adrian Sampson (Pirates' No. 20), Altoona at Bowie
Tyler Skulina (Cubs' No. 17), Kane County vs. Peoria
Ryne Stanek (Rays' No. 11), Bowling Green at Lake County
Stephenson (Reds' No. 1), Pensacola vs. Jacksonville
Lewis Thorpe (Twins' No. 6), Cedar Rapids at Wisconsin
Nick Travieso (Reds' No. 7), Dayton vs. Fort Wayne
Tom Windle (Dodgers' No. 7), Rancho Cucamonga vs. High Desert
Mike Wright (Orioles' No. 5), Norfolk vs. Charlotte