Four years after seeing his big-league dream come true with the Philadelphia Phillies, Brock Stassi jumped at the opportunity to return to the organization that he broke into the majors with in 2017.
The first baseman/outfielder has bounced around between the minor leagues and independent ball since he playing 51 games for Philadelphia in his lone major-league season, and was excited to get the chance to play for the system where his professional career began.
“It’s awesome. I mean, it feels like I’m back home, honestly,” Stassi told Phillies Nation on Thursday. “I was here from ’11 to ’17 and I was playing in the Atlantic League [this year], so it’s nice to get back into affiliated baseball.
“And there’s really not a better place to play than Reading.”
Stassi was assigned to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils when he officially rejoined the Phillies on Tuesday as the team purchased his contract from the independent Long Island Ducks. The now 33-year-old had previously made his biggest noise as a prospect for the Fightins.
He played in Reading for parts of three seasons, winning Eastern League MVP in 2015 as he batted .300/.394./.470 with 15 home runs in 133 games. Stassi also made many relationships with the people in Reading.
Upon learning he’d be playing for the Fightins again, Stassi made sure to see the members of the front office before heading to Harrisburg for the team’s series opener against the Senators on Tuesday.
“It’s awesome, because all the front office is still the same,” he said. “They’re my favorite people of all time. … It was really cool seeing a lot of familiar faces.”
Following his meeting with Fightins employees, Stassi immediately made an impact for the team on Tuesday, hitting an extra-inning, game-winning single off the bench in a 9-8 win.
“That was cool,” he said with a smile. “I mean, I don’t know what else to say. It was cool.
“I love being in those situations like that, so to pinch hit and come through for the team was a lot of fun.”
Stassi had a hit in each of the two following games as well, going 3-for-8 with a walk. He’s contributing to the team, this time as the veteran of the group instead of the former 33rd-round pick trying to earn his first shot. And with that comes a bit of a different role in the clubhouse.
When Stassi came to Reading in 2014, he looked to teammate and former major leaguer Jake Fox for guidance. Now, while still getting to know his new teammates, he looks to act as a similar resource for Fightins prospects with less experience such as 2019 first rounder Bryson Stott.
“I don’t think anybody who’s still playing would tell you their goal isn’t to get back to the big leagues, so that’s still my goal,” Stassi said. “But I know I’m here so a lot of younger guys can lean on me, and hopefully I’ll lead by example and show them how to go about their day in a professional way.”
Stassi has brought a more mature mindset to Reading than he had the last time he was in the Phillies system. Gone are the days of worrying about the organizational depth chart and wondering when the major-league call might come. Advancing is one of his goals, but so is taking advantage of each moment back in the minors.
“Everybody wants to move up a level, get back to the big leagues and stuff like that, and when I was younger — not so much when I was in Reading — I was always worried about: ‘What’s this guy doing ahead of me? What’s this guy doing behind me?’ And that’s just a waste of energy,” Stassi said. “It’s big for me to just be where my feet are and enjoy each and every day and be thankful that I’m here.
“And I am for sure.”
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