Brock Stassi is in an unenviable place coming into the 2017 season. Coming into his second season at Triple-A, Stassi is blocked at the major league level by Tommy Joseph and is going to have to fight for playing time with Rhys Hoskins, who seems destined to head for Triple-A after putting up huge offensive numbers last season at Reading. Add to that the fact that Stassi is limited in the positions he can play - he has played 36 minor league games in left field - and you get the feeling that Stassi's future may have to come with another organization. Of course, he has pitched in nine games since 2013 and is 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA in those nine games, covering 10 1/3 innings of work, not to mention striking out eight batters, including Mark Teixeira, who was on a rehab stint last season when he went down swinging against Stassi.
Defensively, Stassi is pretty much as good as they come at first base. In 743 chances last season, he committed just one error and has a career fielding percentage of .994 at first base.
Offensively, Stassi is fairly consistent hitter with decent, but not impressive power. He struck out just once every 5.8 plate appearances last season while with Lehigh Valley. He's got good plate discipline, drawing 60 walks in 117 games, helping boost his on-base percentage last season to .369 on the year. The numbers were down from the breakout season that Stassi put together at Double-A Reading in 2015. On his way to earning the Eastern League's MVP Award that season, Stassi hit a career-high 15 home runs and hit .300/.394/.470 with the Fightins.
Brock Stassi vs International League Averages in 2016
Stassi credited an increased attention to diet and nutrition for his breakout season in 2015 and also revamped his swing prior to the season. In short, he was pretty much a different player after a weak first season with Reading where he hit just .238 and found himself in trouble of being passed over by other prospects. The 2015 season saved him, but now, he again has to fight to show that he can stick with the organization and have a future at the major league level.
Hoskins is simply a better first base prospect and figures to be ready for the jump to Triple-A after a 38-116-.281/.377/.566 season with the Fightins last year. Moving to the outfield, where Stassi primarily played in college, isn't as simple as it sounds because of the stockpile of prospects that the Phillies have in the outfield. That same limitation applies to Stassi having any shot at making the big league club out of spring training, even though as a left-handed hitter, he might be a good fit to spell Joseph at first base against some right-handers.
Stassi lives to pull the ball and that's where most of his power comes in to play, and he was pretty susceptible to the shift last season and would often wind up popping the ball up when he tried to go the other way to beat the alignment.
Many fans are reminded of former prospect Matt Rizzotti, who came to Lehigh Valley in 2010 with big Double-A numbers and thought that he was a no-miss prospect. Like Stassi, Rizzotti was also a left-handed hitting first baseman, but the difference is that Rizzotti lived on the smaller ballparks of the lower minor league levels and didn't have much of an idea about simply being a hitter. Stassi does have an idea of how to hit and the peripheral numbers show that he has good discipline, can make contact and has pop in his bat. He's also a much better defensive player than Rizzotti could have ever dreamed he would be at any level. Those tools give Stassi a shot at playing in the majors, but the situation just isn't a good fit for him right now in the Phillies organization.
Stassi has an invite to spring training, as does Hoskins, but it's not likely that he's going to get a lot of playing time in camp. Unfortunately, it's very possible that Stassi will be looking for other opportunities unless the Phillies find a way to keep him around and still give him decent playing time at Triple-A.
Brock Stassi career stats
|Minors (6 seasons)||580||2228||1937||245||510||93||13||42||271||24||8||246||283||.263||.347||.390|