The Phillies need to handle Bryson Stott with immense care
The Philadelphia Phillies have a logjam forming in their infield, thanks to Bryson Stott skyrocketing through up the farm system faster than anticipated. He was only drafted in 2019, and the 2020 minor league season was canceled, but he really made the most of the 2021 season, rising three levels, from High-A to Triple-A.
But with Didi Gregorius still at shortstop for one more year and Alec Bohm trying to find himself at third base, Stott, a natural shortstop, doesn’t really have a landing spot.
At least, not a consistently open one.
With Phillies Opening Day exactly one week away, it looks like Gregorius will make the roster while Stott and Bohm duke it out down to the wire. But based on how Stott and Bohm are playing this spring, it’s clear who deserves the spot; Stott has been crushing the ball in spring training and proving himself defensively, more than rising to the challenge Dave Dombrowski gave him last fall.
Meanwhile, over his first eight games of the spring, Bohm is hitting – if you can call it that – .095/.208/.143 with a .351 OPS. He’s got two hits, three walks, and three strikeouts. It would be a small sample size if it wasn’t following his terrible sophomore slump last year.
And yet despite the overcrowding on the infield depth chart and the vast difference in their numbers, the Phillies seem to want Bohm and Stott up at the big-league level. They want to have their cake and eat it too, and it’s a terrible idea.
According to manager Joe Girardi, he’s thinking of using Stott at short, third, and maybe even second base:
"“Flexibility is really important. Might even play him at second one day. I want flexibility … because I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to go.We see him as a shortstop. Sometimes, you have needs. Sometimes, a guy can get hurt, and [the position of need] might not be your natural position. But if you’ve moved around, it could be really helpful.”"
In the words of the iconic television character Michael Scott, ‘Nope, don’t like that.’
This setup is “really helpful” to whom, exactly? Confusing a rookie because your roster is disorganized is going to hurt the individual and collective success. Besides, the Phillies re-signed Ronald Torreyes to be their reliable utilityman again; Stott is their shortstop of the future.
There’s a big difference between saying plans are flexible and declaring that a rookie who barely spent time at Triple-A is going to debut and be used for whatever you need. If they’re not going to choose him over Bohm, then better for Stott to spend at least the beginning of the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he can hone his skills instead of having his bright future warped by inconsistency in a Phillies uniform. As the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, that’s exactly how the Phillies ruined Scott Kingery.
At least the Phillies paid Kingery before they broke him.
If the Phillies are serious about Stott, and all signs pointed to that being the case before Girardi said what he did, then they absolutely can’t do this to him. They should’ve traded Gregorius or Bohm, but they didn’t, so now they have to divvy up two spots between three players. But even having Gregorius and Stott platoon at short is a better idea than moving Stott all over the infield.
To be crystal clear, this is an indictment of the Phillies’ well-documented struggles with developing prospects, not a lack of confidence in Stott.
Of course, Girardi isn’t going to reveal his hand to the media, but his message isn’t what anyone wants to hear. And hopefully, it’s not what’s actually going to happen, because as Taylor Swift famously sings, “I think I’ve seen this film before / And I didn’t like the ending.”