There was little fanfare last offseason when the Atlanta Braves signed Jackson Stephens in the midst of a lockout. Even for fans starved for all things Braves related, news of the signing was met with a collective shrug. Stephens, an 18th round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2018 and was considering retiring when the urging of his wife and a little bit of luck brought Stephens to Atlanta. The rest is history as what started off as a feel good story, turned into a real asset for the Braves bullpen.
Jackson Stephens a Comeback Story
With COVID in full swing, Stephens was struggling to pick up with a Major League Team. The only contract offer he received was with a Mexican Winter League team. While pitching in Mexico, Stephens impressed with a high strikeout ratio. Stephens pitched well enough to catch the eye of Braves bullpen coach Juan Yepez, who signed him to his team in Venezuela. After Stephens won the pitcher of the year award, Yepez encouraged the Braves to take a look at him. The Braves signed Stephens to a minor league pact and when Jacob Webb went down early with an injury the Braves called him up to the big league club.
Stephens bolsters Atlanta Braves Pen
Stephens made an immediate impact for the Braves, particularly early in the season helping to provide length and solidify what was early on a question mark for Atlanta. In his first six appearances Stephens had a 1.80 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10 innings. Stephens never maintained that level of success but was still valuable to the club. Used mainly as a multi inning option, Stephens helped to lengthen a bullpen that struggled for stretches in the fifth through seventh innings . On the season, Stephens ended with a 3.69 ERA and a 3.54 FIP in 53 2/3 innings before being designated for assignment after Atlanta acquired Dennis Santana from the Rangers.