Bryson Stott has looked all the part of one of the 26 best players at Philadelphia Phillies camp during Spring Training, and not especially close to 25 or 26.
An excellent spring continued for Stott Monday, in a day that we may look back at as the day that the 2019 first-round pick forced the hands of the Phillies to put him on the Opening Day roster.
Stott’s first at-bat came in the bottom of the second inning, and he quickly got in an 0-2 hole against Baltimore Orioles‘ starter Dean Kremer. Stott then worked the count back to 2-2, before taking a pitch on the outer half of the plate and singling down the left field line:
It only took Stott two pitches to double into left-center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was the type of swing that made Bryce Harper compare Stott’s offensive approach to former Los Angeles Angels‘ star Garret Anderson last spring.
Before Stott added a third hit in the form of a single, he made a tremendous leaping catch to rob catcher Anthony Bemboom of a hit:
Nick Castellanos — who homered in Monday’s 7-1 victory — was speaking to Tom McCarthy and Ben Davis on NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s coverage of the game at the time of Stott’s catch.
“Hey, he’s really good,” Castellanos said of Stott. “You know and the way that he goes about it, it’s like he’s cool as a cucumber. If I was having that much success when I was his age coming up as a minor league with no big league experience, anything that I did positive I was so giddy and skipping around and excited. He’s playing like a veteran, it’s fun to watch.”
Stott played shortstop Monday, a day after playing third base. By all accounts, the Phillies feel comfortable with him playing shortstop, third base or second base, which may help increase the chances that he’s able to carve out a role for himself even if Didi Gregorius has a bounce-back season.
He could open the season at shortstop and push Gregorius — who has -12 defensive runs saved in two seasons with the Phillies — to third base. What’s more likely is that Gregorius starts at shortstop to begin the season, rather than third base, a position he only has played at for 10 innings in the majors, and that came when he was playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014. Stott would then play third base.
If Alec Bohm had seized the starting third base job in spring, Stott may be out of luck. But despite a nice catch at third base Monday afternoon, Bohm is hitting just .105 this spring. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia mentioned Bohm as a possible trade candidate last week, but if that doesn’t happen before the season starts, it feels entirely possible that the Phillies have the former National League Rookie of the Year runner-up open the 2022 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
While trading Bohm or having him start the season at Triple-A would have been shocking just a year ago, it may be where things are at. And it also could open up a chance for Stott to be in the lineup on Opening Day, with Johan Camargo as a bench option to fill in around the infield as well.
Over the weekend, manager Joe Girardi talked about how important it would be for Stott to be able to play more than just shortstop if he opened the season with the Phillies.
“I want flexibility,” Girardi told Paul Casella of MLB.com. “Because I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to go.”
Considering that Stott is now hitting .533 this spring, the Phillies are going to have to be flexible in both roster and lineup construction, because Stott looks too good to be playing in Allentown in April.
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