On Sunday, manager Joe Girardi was asked about the third base job. He clearly stated that it was still an open competition.
Later in the day in Dunedin, top prospect Bryson Stott found himself in the lineup at third. Bryce Harper’s roommate responded by going 1/2 with 3 RBIs, including a two-run HR in the 5th inning.
Stott’s performance yesterday brought his spring slash up to .417/.588/.667. Granted, it has only been 12 at-bats, but Stott has looked much more confident than he did last spring. His smooth left-handed swing and knowledge of the strike zone are evident in every at-bat. He came into camp looking to build off of his strong 2021 and he is certainly doing that.
Coming into the spring, Stott was in competition with Didi Gregorius for the starting shortstop job. Didi is coming off an abysmal 2021 season both offensively and defensively. Stott was drafted as a shortstop and has played most of his innings there, so it was a natural competition. However, Stott’s performance has opened up a lot of eyes.
Enough that he is going to get more looks at other positions as we inch closer to Opening Day.
Scott Lauber of the Inquirer wrote that the Phillies were not going to manipulate Stott’s service clock. If Stott is ready for the big leagues, then he is going to make the Phillies’ roster. Under the new CBA, teams will be given draft picks if they promote prospects in time to receive a full first year of service time and keep them on track to be a free agent after the sixth year.
“You’re not going to take a guy like a Stott if he’s not going to play a lot. That makes no sense,” Girardi said. If he comes to the majors, “he’s going to play, and it could be all over the place — right? Two days here, two days there.”
Unlike the Phillies’ hoped, Alec Bohm has not played well this spring. Coming off the season he had last year, the team was hoping he would come in motivated. That hasn’t happened, paving the way for Stott to get reps over at the hot corner. He’s back at his natural position for Monday’s game against Baltimore, but it’s looking more and more likely he’s going to be the Opening Day third baseman.
Frankly, he is the best option the team has at this point.
I know that some fans worry about moving Stott off of his natural position, a la Scott Kingery. However, it is different to ask that of a shortstop than it is a second baseman. If you can play adequate defense at short, that will translate much smoother to other spots. In fact, some pundits think Stott’s long-term position may be at third base.
Having Stott at third base also improves the team’s defense, which we all know will be a struggle this year. Alec Bohm was arguably the worst defensive third baseman in the MLB last year. The signings of Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber do not improve your defense. Routine plays have to be made, and I have faith in Stott to make more of them.
As much as you want Bohm to right the ship, the Phillies aren’t in a position to do so. They intend to compete now, and Stott at third gives the team a better opportunity to do so. He is clearly ready for the MLB, even if he has only played 10 games above Triple A.
I don’t know if he will ever be a star in this league, but Stott looks like he could be a real good player for the Phils.
There is a week and a half before Opening Day, and a lot can change. At this point, Bryson Stott is going to be breaking camp with the team. The question becomes, if Stott makes the team as the starting third baseman, what happens to Alec Bohm?
Time will tell.