For the third consecutive year, the Philadelphia Phillies used their first-round pick on a college position player, selecting shortstop Bryson Stott with the No. 14 overall pick in the opening round of the MLB Draft Monday evening. One of Stott’s biggest influences – his high school head coach, Paul Buboltz – says that the city of Philadelphia will quickly embrace the 21-year-old.
Buboltz became the head coach of the Desert Oasis Diamondbacks (Las Vegas, NV) in 2013, Stott’s freshman year of high school. That, along with Stott’s character, makes this selection especially personal to Buboltz.
“Bryson came into high school as a 5’3 kid,” Buboltz recalled. “He really improved each year. He started at second base as a freshman and caught some as a sophomore, when he also hit his growth spurt. Bryson played every inning of every game his senior year. As a senior, he was the high school player of the year in Las Vegas. He is a great kid that loves baseball and truly is a good person.”
Stott stayed in state for his collegiate ball, In his junior season at UNLV, Stott slashed .356/.486/.599 with 10 home runs, 36 RBIs, 55 walks and a 1.085 OPS. MLB Pipeline had him ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect in this year’s draft, saying that “nearly all of Stott’s tools grade out as at least above-average.” His best tool, according to their 20-80 scale, is his 60 hit tool, with the scouting report suggesting he has “very advanced bat skills.”
The one question about Stott offensively may be his ability to generate power. Stott homered 10 times in his final season at UNLV, which came after hitting just five home runs combined in his first two college seasons. Stan Stolte, Stott’s head coach at UNLV the past three seasons, is extremely high on Stott’s offensive profile, and thinks in time, some more power will come.
“He knows the strike zone so well and can hit all pitches,” Said Stolte, who has been UNLV’s head baseball coach since June of 2016. “As he gets older, I think more power will develop.”
Buboltz echoed those same sentiments, saying that while Stott has traditionally been a gap-to-gap hitter, as he continues to grow and develop as a player, some of the balls that were doubles in high school and college will carry out of the park.
It’s funny, during a recent Phillies telecast, NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Tom McCarthy reminded viewers that Pat Burrell, the first No. 1 pick in franchise history, was actually drafted as a third baseman. While Burrell’s bat was his calling card, he would play two different positions in the National League – first base initially, but ultimately left field. He briefly was a DH during an unsuccessful stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. Even without a consistent third baseman after the July 2002 trade of Scott Rolen, it never crossed the minds of Larry Bowa or Charlie Manuel to pencil Burrell, who finished his career with -22 defensive runs saved, in at third base.
The point being, simply because you are drafted at a position, that doesn’t ultimately mean that’s what position you will play at the major league level.
For as much as scouts may rave about the offensive tools that Stott possess, he had a less-than-stellar .969 fielding percentage in his junior season at UNLV. There are some players that are drafted and obviously aren’t going to stick at the position they played in high school or college. For example, when the Phillies selected Cornelius Randolph in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, it was decided rather quickly that he would move from shortstop to the outfield. Without having insight on the Phillies plans, the guess here would be that he’ll be given the chance to sink or swim at shortstop before any decision is made about his defensive future. But as MLB Pipeline puts it “While Stott does show off a plus arm at times, the one area there’s a split camp might be his ability to play shortstop in the big leagues.”
As Buboltz noted earlier, Stott was very flexible defensively in high school – he played all four infield positions at one point or another and even served as a catcher during his sophomore season. But he thinks that Stott will stick at shortstop at the major league level. So too does Stolte.
“He can play other positions, but I think the Phillies will have a hard time moving him from shortstop.”
It may seem as though high school and college coaches will rave about any former player of their’s that gets drafted. On some level that’s true – it’s in their best interests and, of course, if a player reaches the major league level, they probably had pretty good intangibles from a young age. But, as anyone who played sports at the varsity level can attest, there are some athletes that demonstrate advanced maturity and off-the-charts intelligence in their given sport, but that same character and good judgement doesn’t translate to real life. Stott, according to both his high school and college head coaches, is special both as an athlete and a person.
“Bryson loves baseball and he works hard at perfecting his craft he is always swinging and working,” Buboltz said. “Bryson will be able to adjust quickly he has always been a good hardworking kid who loves the game.”
Stolte, who most recently, has overseen Stott’s progression as both a baseball player and a human says that Matt Klentak’s front office got a steal at No. 14.
“Bryson is a great kid on & off the field,” Stolte said. “He does everything above-average and he can handle playing in front of tough crowds. The Phillies got a gem. There are zero off-the-field-concerns with Bryson and he’s a great teammate.”
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