We continue our countdown of top prospects here at The Good Phight, counting backwards from 20 to our top prospect.
Bryson Stott, 24 years old, L/R
Stott rocketed through the Phillies minor league system in 2021, starting the year at High-A and closing it out at Triple-A. He performed well above league-average at each of those stops in the way you’d hope an early first round pick would. He carried that momentum into the Fall League, where he slashed .318/.445/.489. In addition to the statistical performance piece, Stott showed improvement in his lower half’s flexibility and general conditioning, as well as with his arm stroke, which used to be so atypical that while he was an amateur it caused some concern among scouts about his viability at short. Those have evaporated with the subtle improvements he’s made. The question of Stott’s in-game power lingers on, however; while he hit 16 homers in 2021, most of them came during his time at Double-A Reading, whose home ballpark is notoriously hitter-friendly. Stott has uncommon raw power for a shortstop but his approach has caused us to project his in-game power output below his raw. We still think that’s true, but also think his swing decisions have improved enough to close the gap. He can adjust mid-flight to breaking balls when necessary, but he’s now able to better lay off the ones he shouldn’t be swinging at in the first place. Lefty-hitting shortstops with this kind of power are tough to find and Stott is basically big-league ready. We expect him to usurp Didi Gregorius as the Phil’s everyday shortstop at some point in 2022 and remain entrenched there for at least the next half decade.
Jay: 2, Ethan: 2, Alex: 2
By now, you know the story.
Didi Gregorius is going to have to hit in spring training, or he will find himself supplanted on the depth chart by Stott. This is not new news to you. You also know that, almost universally, scouts think Stott will be “average” across the board, maybe a bit closer to above average in all phases of the game.
The thing is: that’s an outstanding outcome for the team as a whole and for Stott individually.
It almost feels denigrating to say that a player might just turn out to be “average”. We’ve gotten so accustomed to prospects coming into the game and not just showing they belong, but excelling, that when a player just ends up being a 3-4 WAR player, it almost feels disappointing.
The player that Stott reminds me of is Dansby Swanson from the Braves. Swanson isn’t the flashiest player, not clearing the 100 wRC+ hurdle but once in his career. What he does do is stay on the field, giving the team solid, but not spectacular, defense at the shortstop position, and not requiring the team to make a huge financial outlay at that spot. He’s just giving them solid production across the board. 2021 was his best season, hitting .248/.311/.449, swatting 27 home runs and registering 3.2 fWAR on the season. It’s a good season on a team that needed it.
Ask yourself: if Bryson Stott were able to give numbers like this, maybe not as much power, maybe a bit better on base ability, would you take it? Of course you would! It’s not superstar level good, but it’s also extremely productive.
If Stott can churn out seasons resembling this one by Swanson, that’s a huge win for the team. Will it start this year? It’ll all depend on Gregorius of course, but if Stott is forcing his way into the lineup by tearing up the minor leagues again, the team will have no choice but to make room for him.