Robert Stephenson to make Cincinnati Reds debut Thursday

The Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect, right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson, will make his big league debut Thursday in a 12:35 p.m. game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds called up Stephenson, a first-round pick in 2011, from Triple-A Louisville on Monday morning, hours before an Opening Day game against the Phillies. They placed Homer Bailey on the 15-day disabled list to make room on the roster.

“This is probably a one-start situation for Robert,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He knows that. It’s a great opportunity for him to get his feet wet in this environment.”

Stephenson said he found out Sunday morning and drove from Louisville to Cincinnati on Monday morning.

“They told me to be prepared in case anything crazy happened,” Stephenson said Monday in the Reds’ clubhouse, “but I was definitely surprised and I’m excited to be here.”

Stephenson has climbed the minor-league ladder from Billings, Mont., and Dayton in 2012 to Bakersfield, Calif., to Pensacola, Fla., to Louisville last season. He was 4-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A last year.

“The only thing I want to do when I go out there is have fun,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to go out there and get a little more experience, so when I come back for a more permanent time, it’s not new to me.”