Phillies' Stott showing versatility in AFL

October 25th, 2021

got a quick glimpse of what the Arizona Fall League would be like back in July. That was when the Phillies' No. 2 prospect (MLB's No. 97) went to Denver and participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. The infielder went 0-for-2 that day, though he reached base twice and scored a run, and it gave him an idea of what it was like to see that much talent in one place at one time.

“That was awesome,” said Stott, who's playing for the Peoria Javelinas this autumn. “It’s the same concept: You play with all of those guys and try to meet them and build relationships with them. Spending a month-and-a-half here instead of just the one day is going to be awesome.”

The 2019 first-rounder certainly seemed to be enjoying it during the league’s first couple of weeks, going 8-for-19 over his first six games. He drew nine walks while striking out just four times for a robust .421/.607/.579 line. None of this should surprise anyone who has watched Stott's progress during a 2021 season in which he started off in High-A and ended it at Triple-A. He hit well with a very strong approach at the plate (13.3 percent walk rate combined) to finish with a .299/.390/.486 line with 16 homers and 10 steals. He was able to keep things simple as he moved up the ladder, with a very simple lesson he’s carried with him to Arizona:

“That I don’t have to try to do too much,” Stott said. “I can stay in my zone and my approach and I’m big enough and strong enough now that I don’t really have to force anything and try to yank balls. I can use the whole field and stay within myself a lot more.”

He’s also learning how to move around the infield. He played nothing but shortstop during his college career at UNLV. That’s where he’s spent the majority of his time professionally and he'll have every chance to play there long-term if that’s where the Phillies need him. But he’s also seen time at second and third, and while he continues to focus at the premium position in Arizona, he sees the importance of his work at multiple spots.

“Being able to play all three spots is huge for development purposes,” Stott said. “You never want to be that one-position guy, and anything to help your teams win -- you want to play any spot you can.”

And Stott wants to do it every day. It would be easy to point to fatigue after a successful first full season that included 112 games and 487 plate appearances. But like every Minor Leaguer, Stott’s goal is to not just make it to the highest level, but be a regular there, which means being ready to play as close to 162 games as possible.

“I want to see how many games I can play in a year,” Stott said. “It’s been a long year, and 30 more games is going to be fun. It gets you ready for the big league season, going into Spring Training and the Minor League season as well.”

Phillies hitters in the Fall League

Logan O’Hoppe, C (No. 11): O’Hoppe has continued an improbable ride up prospect charts, starting with an alternate site invitation last year and continuing with the hitting of 17 homers across three levels during the 2021 season. The Long Island native gets high marks for his leadership behind the plate as well, and he’s continued to perform in the AFL, with an .816 OPS over his first six games.

Simon Muzziotti, OF (No. 16): Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Muzziotti played in just 20 games during the regular season, not seeing action until the very end of August because of visa issues. He’s making up for lost time in Arizona, and he's been getting off to something of a slow start. The talented outfielder has always hit for average and made a ton of contact while learning to draw more walks, albeit without much power.

Phillies pitchers in the Fall League

Hans Crouse, RHP (No. 4): Crouse’s strong showing in Double-A continued even after he was sent from the Rangers to the Phillies in a Trade Deadline deal, and he even earned a late bump to Triple-A for one start and then two in the big leagues. He threw 92 innings across all the stops and he’s yet to top 100 for a season since being taken in the 2017 Draft, with his time in the Fall League allowing him to continue to work on refining his command and stretching him out a bit more so he can perhaps be ready for a full season in 2022.

Erik Miller, LHP (No. 9): Miller always showed electric stuff at Stanford without the ability to control it consistently, but he was dominant during his pro debut in 2019 after the Phillies took him in the fourth round. That got everyone excited to see what the big lefty could do in his first full season, but injuries limited him to throwing only 12 2/3 innings during the 2021 season, so hopefully he can get some innings in. (His last outing before his AFL debut was on July 28.) A good autumn would help him put the lost year behind him and get ready for a full workload next year.

Damon Jones, LHP: A late-round pick in 2017, Jones jumped on the radar screen when he pitched across three levels, up to Triple-A, in 2019. The 27-year-old lefty missed bats (12.4 K/9) in 2021 and even earned his first big league callup. But he struggled with command (7.8 BB/9) as he made a full-time move to the bullpen, something he hopes to iron out this fall to prepare for a potential big league reliever gig.

James McArthur, RHP: The 6-foot-7 right-hander spent most of 2021 as a starter in Double-A and was fairly successful, especially when away from the hitting haven of Reading, Pa. He uses a four-pitch mix effectively and made strides with his command (2.8 BB/9 in 2021 to bring his career rate to 3.8). With an eye on a 40-man roster spot, he gave up just one run on one hit and struck out six in his first AFL start.