Former Oxford High standout Jackson Stephens will start for the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs, Reds manager Bryan Price announced after the Reds' loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati.com reported Thursday night.
It will be Stephens' first big-league game appearance.
Stephens had a brief call-up as an emergency long reliever in late May but did not appear in a game before returning to Triple-A Louisville.
A 16th-round draft pick of the Reds in 2012, Stephens has a 4.97 ERA in Triple-A but 3.09 in his last eight games, seven of which were starts.
The Reds passed over previously auditioned young pitchers like Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano. Reed and Stephenson have struggled with command. Stephenson and Romano turned in strong recent outings, but pitched too recently to be ready for a Saturday start.
The Reds also bypassed right-hander Tyler Mahle, who impressed in his first Triple-A start after a promotion from Double-A. But Mahle is not on the 40-man roster, which means the Reds would have had to risk losing a player permanently in order to create room for him.
Stephens could have a chance to stick in the rotation. With Brandon Finnegan back on the disabled list and Anthony DeSclafani not expected back until late July at the earliest, there are no looming returns of more seasoned pitchers.
Oxford coach Wes Brooks says he will attend Stephens' start against the Cubs, winners of the 2016 World Series.