Is Bryson Stott the prospect to get the Phillies over the hump?

By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB Writer

the Phillies need reinforcements. It’s clear.

Over the past two weeks, the club with the second-longest playoff drought in baseball has spent $180 million on freelance hitters Nicholas Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to get the roster back on track. This level of ownership investment is undoubtedly a good sign, but it’s also an indication that the organization’s inability to develop homegrown talent – ​​particularly among position players – has been a huge hurdle to get out of what has become a decade-long rebuild.

The club’s recent run of mediocrity is perhaps best explained by its unsuccessful draft record during what should have been the early years of the rebuild.

From 2015 to 2018 — years the team held a top-10 draft pick — the Phillies handed out eight bonuses of at least $1 million in the draft. These eight players combined to produce a total of 0.3 Baseball Reference WAR.

For a few of these players, the jury is still out. Alec Bohm, for example, was magnificent in the shortened 2020 season ahead of his abysmal 2021 and could yet become an everyday third baseman. Spencer Howard was sent back to Texas at the deadline last season for starter Kyle Gibson. Adam Haseley was traded to the White Sox on Tuesday for a pitching prospect.

Overall, these top picks have so far failed at the big league level. Whether it was a scouting issue or a player development issue, the Phillies’ farm system suffered, ranking in the bottom 10 of system rankings by most major publications.

This made it much harder for the front office to a) make trades for established reinforcements and b) revitalize the roster with prospects. Since Rhys Hoskins debuted in late 2017 and ignited the league with a wildfire of home runs, a Phillies rookie hasn’t established himself as an everyday great leaguer.

This is where Bryson Stott comes in.

Stott, a left-handed shortstop ranked by most publications as the Phillies’ top prospect, is looking to buck the recent trend of Philadelphia hometown futility, though he won’t put it quite so outspokenly. The 24-year-old was understandably diplomatic when asked about the team’s inability to constantly replenish its roster with homegrown talent and whether he could be the guy to get the franchise over the hump .

“I’m myself,” Stott told FOX Sports last week after a spring training game in Clearwater, Fla. “So things that other people may or may not have done, obviously you hear about that, but it doesn’t impact how I do things.”

Last year, the way Stott “did it” was a clean line of .299/.390/.486 on three levels of minor league ball. He broke 16 home runs, made it all the way to Triple-A, appeared in the Futures Game and allayed some industry concerns about his ability to stay shortstop.

The Las Vegas native capped off his sensational season with a raucous performance in the rich Arizona Fall League prospect that earned him a Fall League All-Star Game nod. That strong campaign has heightened expectations for his schedule, and Stott now finds himself on the cusp of the big ones as one of the most compelling storylines in Phillies spring training.

“[This spring training] is obviously a different situation now than the previous two, but I feel a lot more comfortable,” he said. year in spring training. Not pretty at all. I just feel a lot more at comfortable and a lot more ready. It’s great, though. Last year I threw my backpack on the floor and tried to stay away from everyone. Now I have a record.”

A guy who has the words “Be You” embroidered on his glove, Stott is self-aware beyond his years. He is a humble but confident kid who knows who he is and where he comes from. A tattoo of his hometown’s iconic “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign sits on his left shoulder. Stott floats around the clubhouse with the confidence of a veteran, his flowing blonde hair held back by a multicolored Phillies headband.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Stott grew up around the game with Bryce Harper as his personal mentor. Both are proud Las Vegans and Stott has been close friends with Harper since childhood. Stott’s mother was even Bryce’s older sister’s high school cheerleading coach. Since Stott joined the organization as a first-round pick in 2019, he’s lived with the 2021 National League MVP at every spring training.

This built-in support system made integrating into the big league Phillies clubhouse incredibly easy for Stott. “Obviously knowing Bryce, the big dog in the clubhouse, helps a lot,” he said.

And while Stott is unlikely to break camp with the big league club, there is a good chance he will be set to make his debut at some point this season.

Stott is under no illusions that he still has work to do. “Always carrying [No.] 73,” he joked. “I have the offensive lineman’s number.”

Still, Stott is well aware that his moment is fast approaching, acknowledging that he expects to play in the big leagues at some point in 2022.

The Phillies’ projected infield right now has Hoskins at the start, Jean Segura at second, veteran Didi Gregorius at court and Bohm at third, looking to rebound from his brutal 2021. There were rumors swirling around Clearwater that if Stott were to break through and force a recall, Gregorius could see time at third base to accommodate the youngster.

Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but the fact that it’s even being discussed says a lot about Stott’s talent.

This Phillies team was hungry for a homegrown spark to lift them out of mediocrity and into the playoffs for the first time since 2012, and Stott might be just the guy for the job.

Jake Mintz is the loudest half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He is an Orioles fan living in New York and as a result leads a lonely existence most of October. If he doesn’t watch baseball, he almost certainly rides a bike. You can follow him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.

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