Spring Training can mean different things to different people. For baseball fans, it means the season is near and there is still hope that your team can win a division title (unless you are a fan of the Pirates – then you have no hope).
For the veteran baseball players, it is a chance to work on their timing at the plate or a new pitch while basically getting the body ready for the season. Young players, however, use spring training to prove they should make the jump from the minors to the big leagues or that a disappointing 2021 season wasn’t a fluke. Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, and Bryson Stott fall into the young players group.
Bohm starred at Wichita State University and was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft by Philadelphia. He appeared in the 2019 Futures Games and entered the 2020 season ranked as the 28th best prospect by BA and 30th by MLB . He proved those rankings were pretty solid as he finished second in the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020 after slashing .338/.400/.481 with four homers and 23 RBI in 44 games.
Moniak joined the Phillies organization in 2016 after being the top overall pick in the 2016 draft out of La Costa Canyon High School. Ahead of the 2017 season he was ranked the #17 overall prospect by Baseball America (BA) and #19 by MLB Pipeline (MLB), but fell out of the BA rankings ahead of 2018 and dropped to #88 by MLB. Moniak also struggled in two stints with the Phillies, leaving him on the outside looking in when it came to having a spot on the Opening Day roster this year.
Stott was drafted by the Phillies with the 14th overall pick in 2019 out of UNLV. After playing in the Futures Game last year, he entered this season ranked as the 67th best prospect by BA and 45th by MLB.
A Bad Break
Moniak suffered a bad break, both literally and figuratively, at the end of the spring training. In the final spring game, Moniak was hit in the hand by a pitch. Initial X-Rays were negative, but subsequent X-Rays showed a hairline fracture. In the blink of an eye, Moniak went from being the Opening Day starter in center field for the Phillies to being sidelined for six weeks.
On the fantasy front, it is bad news for players in redraft leagues. But in keeper leagues with limits on the number of players you can keep, there should be an interest in examining Moniak in addition to Bohm and Stott to determine who may be the best keeper down the line.
So let’s take a look at the Philadelphia trio.
Spring Training Breakdown
As you can see, Moniak had a monster spring for the Phillies. He blasted six homers and drive in 11 in only 37 at-bats. His slugging and OPS were off the charts.
Like Moniak, Stott had an outstanding spring, slashing .406/.513/.563. With an aging Didi Gregorius at shortstop, the Phillies decided it was time to see what Stott could do and told him he was headed to The Show.
Meanwhile, Bohm had a below-average spring, and that is not what he needed after struggling last season and being sent back to the minors in August. But Bohm showed signs of life in the last week of spring training. In March, he slashed .136/.240/.182, going 3-for-22 with one RBI. But in April, Bohm found his swing and slashed .357/.357/.571 with a homer.
However, we all know spring training isn’t always a glimpse as to what a player will do when the bright lights are on and the stadiums are filled with fans. With that in mind, let’s look at what each player did last season.
Coming off his outstanding rookie season, there were high expectations when it came to Bohm. But instead of following his 2020 campaign with another solid season, Bohm fell flat. His strikeout rate went from 20% to 26.6% while his walk rate dropped from 8.9% to 7.4%.
His ISO and BABIP also fell, from .144 and .410 to .095 and .327. Interestingly, however, is the fact that his EV went from 90.2 to 92.0 last year, leading his hard hit percentage to increase from 46.8% to 49.8%. The average EV in the majors is 88 mph and the average hard hit percentage is 38.6%, so he was well above average.
Moniak simply didn’t have a good season in 2021. His numbers are Triple-A are not what one expects from a former No. 1 overall pick as he had a slugging percentage under .450 and an OBP of .299. Not only did he not get on base, but he also had a 24.6% strikeout rate. Moniak was even worse during his stint with the Phillies, if that is possible. He paired his .091 average with a 43.2 strikeout rate.
And those numbers really aren’t an anomaly. He slashed .214/.389/.214 in 14 at-bats with the Phillies in 2020. In five seasons in the minors, his career slash line is .253/.301/.401 with strikeout%/walk% rate of 21.9%/6%. If he had speed, you could at least point to that. But in 502 games down on the farm, he has only 47 stolen bases.
Stott had a standout career at UNLV, compiling a career line of .340/.433/.515 in 171 career games for the Rebels with 15 homers, 97 RBI, and 34 steals. He also displayed a great eye at the plate as he walked 109 times compared to only 81 strikeouts.
In two seasons in the minors, Stott has slashed .298/.390/.488 with 22 dingers, 76 RBI, and 15 steals. He still has a good eye as well, posting a walk rate of 13.1% with a whiff rate of 21.6%. As you can see, he flew through all three levels of the minors last season and then carried that into this spring to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
So if you had to choose only one player to keep, who would you go with? For me, it is easy to eliminate Moniak. Yes, he had a great spring, but that doesn’t erase five years of mediocre results in the minors. The top overall pick in the draft shouldn’t struggle to hit .253. If he was a true power hitter, you could live with a low batting average. But I’m not buying the sudden improvement he showed this spring.
For me, the better option to keep is Stott. He is a shortstop who could slide to second or third if needed. He has also shown more power during his career, with a 3.2% home run rate in the minors compared to 2.8% for Bohm (and a 1.8% rate in the majors.) Stott is also the better base stealer. He may not be called on to steal a lot with the Phillies, but he could bag around 10 if playing nearly every day to go with 15 homers and 60 RBI, and a .290-300 batting average.
Those are about the same numbers I expect from Bohm. I don’t think he will duplicate his rookie season, but he will be better than last season. But from a third baseman, I want more than 15 homers and 60-70 RBI. That is why if forced to choose just one of these Phillies, I’m going with Stott for the next three to five years.