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Sunday, January 1, 2023

Todd Stephan knew the bigs sometimes required getting a break; Saw five pro seasons, made AAA, missed majors

Todd Stephan started with an independent team, then made it to the Orioles and, by May 1993, AAA Rochester, he noted to his hometown The La Crosse Tribune

He just needed to take that next step, get that break, he told The Tribune.

"I was fortunate to get an opportunity to go with the Orioles and do well in every spot," Stephan told The Tribune. "I am close ... that is how I feel. Organizations have different thoughts and different feelings about different people. Sometimes it takes a special break."

Stephan spoke in his fifth pro season, second at Rochester. That season also proved his last. He fell short of the majors.

Stephan's career began in 1989, signed by independent Peninsula. He'd played college ball at Point Park in Pittsburgh and Bethany Lutheran in Minnesota. He'd also played high school ball at Onalaska in Wisconsin.

Stephan started at Peninsula and saw 35 games, 16 starts. He went 6-8, with a 4.72 ERA. Stephan's work drew praise from his manager Jim Thrift, to The Tribune.

"He's been outstanding. He's a very smart player, a very smart pitcher," Thrift told The Tribune of Stephan that May. "He's a gamer."

Stephan ultimately earned a contract with the Orioles for 1990. Assigned to high-A Frederick, Stephan went 8-2, with a 1.32 ERA in 42 outings, one start. He also saved 17.

He moved to AA Hagerstown for 1991 and saved 14 in 53 outings, one start. He also went 5-5 and ended with a 2.12 ERA.

For 1992, he got his first look at AAA Rochester, after beneficial time in winter ball, The Tribune wrote

"I came to spring training ready to go," Stephan told The Tribune that April. "I made enough strides during winter ball that I felt confident. I think I even picked up a couple miles per hour on my fast ball."

Stephan went 5-6 at Rochester in 1992 over 44 outings, two starts. He saved four and ended with a 3.96 ERA. He returned for 29 more outings, 10 starts, in 1993. He accumulated a 3-7 record and a 5.10 ERA to end his career.

Stephan soon settled in Pennsylvania, where, in 2015, he was involved in youth and church league activities and coaching. Stephan was inducted that year into the Bethany Lutheran Hall of Fame.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,103
Made the Majors:1,359-33.1%
Never Made Majors:2,744-66.9%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:553
10+ Seasons in the Minors:336

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