CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bryson Stott got the good news on Monday morning at BayCare Ballpark. He called his mom to share it.
What a thrill for Stott to tell his mother, Shana, that he fulfilled a lifelong dream and made the Phillies’ Opening Day roster. Stott was the Phillies’ first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, and he had been building to this moment for years. He entered camp as the organization’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 45 prospect in baseball, competing with Didi Gregorius for the job at shortstop, only to find himself entering the final days of camp competing with Alec Bohm for the job at third base.
It could have gone either way. In the end, both Stott and Bohm made the team.
Stott rejoiced. So did mom.
“She was on the way to work,” Stott said. “She’s a teacher, so she held it together pretty well on the phone. Then I got a text 20 minutes later. She had to clean herself up. I mean, all the kids at her school love her. She takes care of them. … She’s a mom to a lot of those kids, as well as my mom. They know when something’s up. I’m sure they figured it out pretty fast.”
Stott also had Cooper Ricciardi on his mind. Stott and Ricciardi were best friends at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas. Ricciardi died from cancer when they were seniors. He always told Stott he would make the big leagues.
Ricciardi wore No. 5 when he played basketball. Stott wore No. 10 when he played baseball. Stott continued to wear No. 10 through the Minor Leagues, but he switched to No. 5 in the Arizona Fall League to honor his friend.
It is not yet official, but Stott hopes to wear No. 5 for the Phillies.
“This was his dream, too,” Stott said. “To be able to wear No. 5 in the big leagues is going to be special for sure.”
Stott said it is an amazing feeling to grow up playing baseball, then get to play the game with people he watched while growing up.
Or, in his case, people he grew up with.
It is well known by now that Stott and Bryce Harper are close friends. They vacation together. They watch football together. They even live together during Spring Training, which means they drive to the ballpark together almost every day.
Harper said he learned before Stott that he made the team.
“It was funny,” Stott said. “We were supposed to go to the mall yesterday to grab some stuff. I needed shoes or pants or whatever for the flight. I mean, I knew I was going to be on the flight one way or the other. I needed to go grab that, so I actually went to try and find him. This was right after [manager] Joe [Girardi] told me. I went to try to find him and he just started laughing and told me he was proud and congrats and all that stuff.”
“I gave him a big hug,” Harper said. “I told him, 'Congrats. Well deserved.' I'm just excited for him. I'm excited for him and his family to enjoy Opening Day. You only get one of them for your first one. I mean, it's a pretty incredible moment. No matter the day -- if he goes 4-for-4 or 0-for-4 or whatever he does -- just enjoy it. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the opportunity to be there. The work starts now. I know he's excited. I know his family is excited. All of us as friends, our whole group, is really excited for him too.
“I was in the car with him [Monday] night. I said to him, 'As a friend, it's a really cool moment.' I mean, you're sitting there. We hang out in the offseason together. You don't really get to play in the big leagues with one of your best friends. Right? So, it's a pretty cool opportunity to do that. But, like I said, when we walk in here, we're teammates. We need him to be a guy. We need our young guys to step up and do what they know how to do. He's a first-rounder. Bohm is a first-rounder. Mickey [Moniak] is a first-rounder. You know what I'm saying?”