The Philadelphia Phillies have been giving young prospects an opportunity to play over the last couple of seasons as their rebuilding program got underway.
Those opportunities have continued this spring as some of the club’s top prospects begin to make a real push for regular big league roles. This includes highly rated shortstop J.P. Crawford, outfielders Nick Williams and Roman Quinn, and catcher Jorge Alfaro.
But it has been a far less heralded prospect who has emerged to steal the spotlight during the 2017 Grapefruit League season down in Florida.
Brock Stassi is a 27-year old first baseman. He was the club’s 33rd round selection in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Nevada-Reno.
Stassi has spent the ensuing six seasons battling his way incrementally up through the Phillies farm system.
In those six minor league seasons, Stassi has hit for a cumulative .263/.347/.390 slash line. He has produced just 42 home runs in more than 2,200 minor league plate appearances.
The left-handed hitter is limited to first base, so his only path to a regular big league role is with his bat. To this point, he simply has not hit enough to be considered a true prospect. As a result, MLB does not rank him among the Phillies current Top 30 Prospects.
STASSI BECOMES 2017 SPRING PHENOM
But this spring, Stassi has broken out. In 31 at-bats over 13 games, Stassi is hitting for a .419/.486/1.000 slash line. He has banged five homers to lead the club. His 15 RBI are far and away the top figure on the team. He has struck out just twice.
Following another strong performance on Tuesday in which Stassi crushed his 5th home run, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was quoted on his spring phenom by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury.
Complicating Stassi’s chances of actually making the Opening Day roster is the fact that he is not being carried on the Phillies 40-man roster at the current time.
John Stolnis at ‘The Good Phight’ did a nice job of breaking down Stassi’s chances of cracking the roster in a piece just yesterday.
An opportunity nearly emerged yesterday. Starting first baseman Tommy Joseph was hit on the hand by a pitch and had to leave the game.
It appears as if a bullet was dodged. There were no broken bones. Consequently, Joseph is likely to miss just a few games. But the incident showed just how suddenly an opportunity could open up.
LIKELY STASSI SCENARIO
Updating his own predictions for the Phillies opening roster today, Matt Gelb at Philly.com still doesn’t think that Stassi will make the cut. As a result, he will provide organizational depth.
Stassi is remaining mostly quiet, as players in his position are generally wont to do. He is simply letting his bat and his glove do the talking for him.
Thus far this spring, that bat and glove are screaming loudly. What they are yelling is that they want to be noticed. If they keep their voices up, you just might see Stassi at Citizens Bank Park at some point this season.