Stott starts at 3B as Phils seek 'flexibility'

March 27th, 2022

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Phillies top prospect Bryson Stott is in the mix for a starting job on the Opening Day roster -- but not at the position some might have expected.

The highly touted shortstop prospect slid over to make the start at third base for Sunday's 10-5 win over the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark.

"I want flexibility," manager Joe Girardi said. "Because I'm not exactly sure how we're going to go."

So is Stott a candidate for the third-base job?

"It's something we're gonna look at," Girardi said.

The position change didn’t seem to faze Stott, who hit a two-run homer and worked a pair of walks, including one with the bases loaded. He’s reached base safely in 10 of his 17 plate appearances this spring (.588 on-base percentage) and has more walks (five) than strikeouts (four).

“He's got a great eye. He does not chase,” Girardi said. “He picks the ball up really quickly out of the pitcher's hand. [At-bats] against left-handers and right-handers have been pretty equal. He's just a good hitter.”

Alec Bohm, who entered camp as the favorite to secure the role, still remains very much in the mix -- "He's right there, too," Girardi said -- while Johan Camargo has emerged as another legitimate option.

But not many saw Stott, the 14th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, tossing his hat into the ring. The 24-year-old entered camp competing with Didi Gregorius for the shortstop job, though Gregorius -- who started next to Stott at short on Sunday -- was always the safe bet to secure that role.

With that in mind, the Phillies want to get a look at Stott across the infield. He's expected to be back at shortstop on Monday, but he will likely make a couple of starts at third, and even make an appearance at second base, over the final week and a half of Spring Training.

That versatility could be the key to Stott breaking camp with the Phillies.

"You're not going to take a guy like a Stott and he's not gonna play a lot," Girardi said. "That makes no sense."

At the same time, that doesn't necessarily mean Stott has to win the everyday job at any one position to make the roster.

"He's going to play," Girardi said about Stott's potential role if he's on the roster. "And it could be all over the place, right? It could be two days here, two days there. I mean, there's a lot of different things."

Though the 24-year-old has played shortstop almost exclusively dating to his collegiate days at UNLV, he's not a total stranger to manning the hot corner. Stott started five games at third base for Double-A Reading last season, then another two in the Arizona Fall League.

Still, he's made 134 of his 153 career Minor League starts at shortstop. That's also where he played all 169 of his collegiate games. It's also worth noting that Stott has played just 10 games at the Triple-A level, going 10-for-33 with a home run and slashing .303/.439/.394 across 41 plate appearances with Lehigh Valley last season.

"That's always a concern, too," Girardi said. "But you know, he saw a month at Triple-A and then he went and played Fall League. There's been a lot of people that have made the jump from Double-A. The thing is, if you can play, you can play."

Stott performed well in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .318 with two home runs, 31 RBIs and a .934 OPS over 26 games.

But is he ready to make the leap to The Show?

"He hasn't showed us anything that he's not [ready]," said Girardi, who added the club has no qualms about starting Stott’s service time if he’s ready to contribute. "I think his defense has been good. I think his at-bats have been good. But Spring Training is always different than the season, right? They tell you don't judge players in September and don't judge players in Spring Training."