When the Phillies added sluggers Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, the pressure was off. The Phillies no longer needed to worry whether or not their offense would need contributions from top offensive prospect Bryson Stott. But after a strong showing 10 days out of Opening Day, the former first round pick might just be forcing his way onto the Phillies Opening Day roster...and another first round pick off.
Stott started for the Phillies on Sunday at third base, and followed that up on Monday by going 3 for 3 at shortstop. Stott is now 8 for 15 (a .533 average) with an OPS of 1.450 in the early (but also late) going in Spring Training. With a resurgence from the healthy Didi Gregorius, the Phillies infield suddenly looks like it may be better offensively and defensively.
Stott had previously just 10 games at the Triple-A level, leading many to believe that some more seasoning at Triple-A was in order before joining the big league ranks. But Stott, with a strong glove thus far at both third base and shortstop - with some work coming at second base - could help turn the Phillies infield defense.
What does that mean for Alec Bohm, incumbent third baseman? Well, it could be he, and not Stott that starts 2022 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Bohm's Grapefruit League action has not gone well. At the plate, Bohm is batting just .105 after Monday. And in the field, Bohm has one error in 12 chances at third base over seven games. It is more so the latter that could be the deciding factor.
Since the acquisition of Castellanos and Schwarber, the concerns about the Phillies defense have been oft-stated. But should Stott and Gregorious give the Phillies a formidable left side of the Phillies diamond, all of a sudden a weak glove in left field and first base do not feel so bad.
So while the rookie Stott might eventually need to adjust to major league pitching, it will be the defense that is setting him apart from Bohm. And could be the reason Bohm starts the season in the minors, or, perhaps becomes a trade chip.
NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury recently commented that Bohm could be a trade chip for the Phillies. The emergence of Stott gives them some flexibility in that regard. Like Spencer Howard last summer, Bohm could be a former top prospect who still retains value while needing a change of scenery.
That's not to say the Phillies are shopping Bohm. Should Stott claim a spot in the Phillies infield, the Phillies will need to replace both shortstop and second base next season, when Jean Segura and Gregorius are free agents.
But lets remember that the Phillies opened up the checkbook beyond the Competitive Balance Tax threshold for the first time in 2022. They did so to win. So that should motivate the Phillies in 2022; 2023 will take care of itself.
Also of concern typically: Starting a player's service time clock. But the Phillies want to win now; service clock is not an issue, manager Joe Girardi recently said. That's why Stott could make the Phillies in 2022.
Hear more about Stott's upward movement on the Powder Blue Podcast with Frank Klose and Geoff Mosher: