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Bryce Harper sees elements of 3 former All-Stars in Bryson Stott

Bryson Stott is a former first-round pick. (Cheryl Pursell)

The Philadelphia Phillies re-signed Didi Gregorius to a two-year/$28 million deal this offseason, but Bryce Harper thinks that the organization has another potential star shortstop looming in the minor leagues.

Harper, a Las Vegas native, says he’s become good friends with 2019 first-round pick Bryson Stott, who the Phillies selected out of UNLV. Stott, 23, comes to Harper’s home nearly every weekend to watch, among other things, Ohio State Football. Beyond the friendship that the two have established, Harper is looking forward to the day that he and Stott take the field together at Citizens Bank Park.

“I think if he pushes the envelope, he’s a big leaguer – I really do,” Harper said Thursday afternoon. “He’s a very good mix of I would say J.J. Hardy and Brandon Crawford…that kinda makes every play…he’s not super flashy but he has the arm like Crawford does. He’s very good up the middle, the game is not too big for him, he’s very even keel. And I would imagine he has a very similar swing…doubles to left…homers to right…as like a Garret Anderson if I could imagine that. I think so, and I know that’s pretty good praise because he was a very good hitter. But I just think he has that mentality, that demeanor…he’s a very good player…he’s going to do whatever he can to get to the big leagues, if that’s playing second or short, I think that’s what he wants to do, he wants to be here.”

Given his age and that he was a first-round pick, Stott theoretically shouldn’t be too far off from the majors. That said, because COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, Stott has yet to play above the New York-Penn League, where he slashed .274/.370/.446 with five home runs across 157 at-bats in 2019.

It is worth noting, though, that Stott spent time at the satellite squad a year ago, playing against some players that ended up being part of the 2020 Phillies, and others that will be on the 2021 Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. It’s entirely possible that Stott, who is in spring training mini-camp, opens the season with Double-A Reading and sets himself up to advance through the minor league system rather rapidly.

Still, it’s probably best to temper expectations a bit.

Once Spencer Howard uses up his rookie eligibility, Stott may jump to being the top rated prospect in the Phillies farm system, though Harper acknowledged Thursday that the minor league pipeline is “kinda depleted” currently. The outlook of the system could change this year as Stott and 2020 first-round pick Mick Abel see extended playing time, but it’s fair to say that if talent evaluators thought as highly of Stott as Harper does, most outlets wouldn’t have them as a bottom-five system in the sport.

Additionally, Phillies Nation‘s Ty Daubert has called Stott “a bat-first shortstop with some pop that hits from the left side, and should be able to hang at the position in the field.” From here, that sounds more like Gregorius than Brandon Crawford or J.J. Hardy. Since 2000, Hardy has graded out as the most valuable defensive shortstop in the sport, with Crawford at fourth, one spot behind Phillies icon Jimmy Rollins. That’s not to say that Stott won’t be an adequate or even above-average defender, but he probably doesn’t have the same type of defensive ceiling as Crawford or Hardy.

The comp of Garret Anderson is interesting, though. Between 1999 and 2004, Anderson slashed .300/.329/.502 with 156 home runs and an average of nearly 106 RBIs per season. If the Phillies eventually get anything like that type of offensive production from Stott – whether it’s at shortstop, second base or elsewhere – they’d be ecstatic.

Stott isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, so he’s probably not likely to be with the Phillies in 2021. Still, managing partner John Middleton spoke this offseason about how the Phillies have struggled at developing talent for most of the franchise’s existence. That makes Stott’s development in his first full season of minor league ball important, especially now that the most important player in the organization has touted his potential.


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