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John Stephens

John Stephens - RHP
Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Debut: 30 July 2002
Final Game: 29 September 2002
Teams played for: Baltimore Orioles

Though his MLB career lasted just 12 games, Sydneysider John Stephens' ascent to the Major Leagues and his adaptable approach on the mound after an injury exemplify a true grit that can only be Australian.

Born and raised in Sydney and highly regarded as an international pitching prospect, Stephens signed with the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent in 1996. Stephens' career took an unfortunate turn when he injured his neck while fielding a bunt in 1998. The neck injury caused nerve damage to the righty's throwing shoulder, which cost him most of the speed on his fastball. However, Stephens got his career back on track by changing his style of pitching to rely more on his curveball and less on his weakened fastball, becoming one of the most dominant pitching prospects in the Baltimore system in the early 2000s.

Stephens led the Minor Leagues in strikeouts in 1999 while playing for the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds and set a team record by striking out 17 batters in one game. While rising through the Minors, Stephens also won the Jim Palmer Award, given out each year to the Orioles' best Minor League pitcher, in 1999, 2001, and 2002. He posted an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA for Triple A Rochester in the first part of the 2002 season, and the Orioles called him up at the end of July.

Stephens pitched less than spectacularly in his debut on 30 July 2002 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, starting the ballgame and lasting just three innings while giving up nine runs. He earned his first MLB win on 17 August against the Detroit Tigers, and made 11 total starts for the Orioles in the remainder of the 2002 season, going 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA.

Unfortunately, Stephens could not translate his Minor League success into Major League wins, and did not appear in the Majors again after 2002, spending the rest of his career in the high Minor Leagues with several different teams. He last played professionally in the US in 2006, when he posted a combined 2-7 record and 5.32 ERA in eight games with Reading, the Philadelphia Phillies' Double-A affiliate, and Ottawa, the Orioles' Triple-A team.

Stephens won a silver medal while pitching for Team Australia at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and donned the green and gold again for his home country in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. 

View John Stephens' career statistics from Baseball Reference