Brock Stassi finished last season with somewhat pedestrian numbers - 12-58-.267/.369/.437 - at Lehigh Valley. Defensively, he was primarily just a first baseman, who had played just 36 games in left field in the minors, and most of those games had come early in his career. He was a former Eastern League MVP in 2015 when he hit 15 home runs, drove in 90 and hit .300 with Double-A Reading. There was a lot there to like, but there was also a feeling that he was basically limited in where he could play and just didn't quite fit on a major league roster.
That all changed this Spring, when Brock Stassi became the talk of the Spring for Phillies fans. Suddenly, he became a left-handed bat who could come off the bench and provide some power. He led the team with six home runs and returned to playing outfield to make himself more versatile. Early on, there was some talk that he had an outside shot at making the team, but it still seemed like somewhat of a dream sequence. Besides, the Phillies were short on 40-man roster spots and Stassi would basically have to bump someone off to win a spot.
When the Phillies traded Alec Asher, it opened one spot, but Daniel Nava was also pushing for an Opening Day roster spot and he would need to be added to the 40-man roster as well. The bullpen took shape with Adam Morgan and Joely Rodriguez winning spots Thursday morning, so that final 40-man roster spot was there and waiting for Stassi and/or Nava.
In the end, the Phillies decided that Jesmuel Valentin, who was already on the 40-man roster and fighting for a place on the 25-man roster, would be better served being optioned to Lehigh Valley. That meant that Nava's longshot dreams had come true and that both he and Nava had made the club.
To clear the second spot on the 40-man roster, the Phillies will designate outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who had earlier been optioned out of camp and told he would likely start the season at Reading.
Stassi and Nava will be somewhat similar players, at least position-wise, for the Phillies, but with the difference that Stassi bats left-handed and Nava is a switch-hitter. Also, while Stassi will look to make his major league debut, Nava is a veteran with just over 500 MLB games on his resume. In 2013, Nava seemed destined for a nice career as an every day player when he hit 12-66-.303/.385/.445 in 134 games with the Red Sox. Those numbers slid, although not terribly, the following season, and pretty soon, with the arrival of younger outfielders, Nava was out of a job with the Red Sox and wound up on waivers. He wound up being claimed by Tampa Bay, became a free agent three months later and signed with the Angels before being dealt to Kansas City last August. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies last December.
Somewhat ironically for Nava, if you look at his page on Baseball-reference.com, you'll see a section that compares him to other players. Nava, who is now 34, compared most favorably to former Phillies outfielder Jim Eisenreich at ages 30 and 31.
Valentin, like Stassi, has no major league experience and would have given the Phillies three bench players with zero MLB at-bats coming into the season. Backup catcher Andrew Knapp is also going to be making his MLB debut this season with the Phillies. Valentin will play every day with Lehigh Valley, manning second base. It's likely that on the rare occasions that shortstop J.P. Crawford gets a day off, Valentin could move over to play short. He could also play some third base to keep his skills honed at those positions, should the Phillies need him at the major league level. Valentin has the distinction of being the only infielder on the Phillies 40-man roster who is not in the majors, meaning he's very likely to be the first player up if they need another infielder for any reason.