Phillies' shortstop of future might be the opening day third baseman


DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Twelve days before opening day, the Phillies' starting third base job is still an open competition, manager Joe Girardi said Sunday.

Bryson Stott, the organization's top position prospect, entered the battle full bore when he got the start there Sunday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays. He made a nice showing with a bases-loaded walk and a two-run homer in a 10-5 win.

"It's something we're going to look at," Girardi said when asked if Stott was in the picture to be the opening day third baseman.

Sunday's start at third was Stott's first action at the position this spring. Previously, he had played only shortstop, his natural position.

Stott does have some experience at third base. He played briefly there in the minors last season and also in the Arizona Fall League. He also played some second base in the minors last season.

Stott, 24, was the Phillies' top pick in the 2019 draft. He has never played in the majors. In fact, he's played only 10 games above the Double A level.

According to Girardi, that would not prevent the Phillies from carrying Stott on their opening day roster.

"He hasn't shown us anything that he's not," Girardi said when asked if he believed Stott was ready for the majors.

Girardi said he might also look at Stott at second base in the coming days. If Stott breaks with the team, he will not sit around.

"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."

Whatever time Stott got at second base would probably be minimal. The Phillies are set at that position with Jean Segura.

They are not set at third. They hoped Alec Bohm would grab the job by the throat this spring, but that hasn't happened. Newcomer Johan Camargo may be ahead of Bohm on the depth chart, but part of his value is his ability to bounce around the diamond and play everywhere. Camargo started at first base on Sunday.

Entering Sunday, Stott was 4 for 10 with three walks and three strikeouts. On Friday, he impressed with two singles against New York Yankees right-hander Luis Severino and a nicely worked walk against gas-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman.

Subscribe to Phillies Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube

Stott came into camp riding the high of a strong showing in the minors in 2021. The UNLV product played 112 games at three levels and hit .299 with 26 doubles, 16 homers and a .390 on-base percentage. After the minor-league season, he went to the Arizona Fall League and hit .318 with a .445 on-base percentage and a .489 slugging percentage in 26 games. He had two homers, 31 RBIs and was named to the league's All-Star team.

Stott was expected to push Didi Gregorius for work at shortstop this spring, but Gregorius, who had offseason elbow surgery, is healthy now and will hold off the challenge.

It remains to be seen if Bohm can hold off Stott or even Camargo. Time is running out. The Phils have just 10 games left in Florida.

Bohm finished second for the NL Rookie of the Year in 2020 but struggled offensively and defensively last season and ended up back in the minors. He played third base Saturday in Lakeland and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. He's 2 for 16 on the spring with two walks and three strikeouts. 

"Alec is right there, too," Girardi said of the competition. "There's a lot of times you look at numbers. But we look at different things than just pure numbers and how a guy is hitting. I think Alec's made a lot of improvements since he's been here."

Bringing Stott to the majors on opening day would start his service time clock and potentially speed his path to salary arbitration and free agency. Girardi said that would not be a factor in the decision on whether to carry Stott or not, that the organization was committed to taking the best players.

Regardless of what happens in the short term, Stott is still viewed as a shortstop, the Phillies' shortstop of the future, in fact. Gregorius will be a free agent at season's end and Stott is expected to move in at the position next season, if not sooner. 

"We see him as a shortstop," Girardi said, "but sometimes you have needs. And it's always important for me to see things with my own eyes."

Contact Us