Sunday Notes: Bryson Stott Knew What to Expect in the 2019 Draft (Sort Of)

Bryson Stott had a pretty good idea of what to expect coming into the 2019 draft. Ultimately taken 14th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies, the now-23-year-old shortstop out of the University of Nevada Las Vegas had reason to believe that he would be selected in that neighborhood of the first round. Our own mock draft had him going one pick earlier, while Baseball America ended up being spot-on with their prediction.

Stott likewise knew that several of his friends would be taken in the first round, albeit not necessarily by which organizations. He and a handful of former USA Baseball teammates would periodically update each other on what they’d been hearing, as well as any pre-draft workouts they’d been invited to. Specific expectations were couched in caution.

“As I’m sure you know, you don’t really get much before the draft,” Stott told me earlier this month. “It’s kind of, ‘You hear one thing and then something else happens.’ So it’s a weird time, and an exciting one, but still pretty stressful.”

As Stott pointed out, the entire 2018 USA team infield went in the first round the following year. Andrew Vaughn was at first base, Braden Shewmake was at second, Stott played short, and Josh Jung covered the hot corner. Will Wilson was an extra infielder, while Shea Langeliers and Adley Rutschmann were the catchers. Last year’s first-overall pick, Spencer Torkelson, was also on the team.

“It was a pretty good infield,” said Stott, in what could rightly be called an understatement.

He hadn’t been drafted out of high school. “Not the biggest or the most physical,” Stott didn’t yet have his eyes on that prize, nor had scouts been knocking down his door. Shortly thereafter, that began to change.

“I had a good start [at UNLV], then went to the Northwoods League my freshman summer and had a really good year — I hit something like .350,” explained Stott. “My sophomore year, we had Kyle Isbel, who was going to be a top-three-rounder, so there were scouts there all the time. As a younger guy you always want someone older than you to be attracting scouts. That way you kind of get a head start. If you play well, you get on their lists.”

Stott slashed .365/.442/.556 as a sophomore, sending his draft stock soaring. His junior year raised his profile even higher. Playing in front of a plethora of scouts, he socked 10 home runs while slashing .356/.486/.599. Media attention came with the territory.

“It was pretty crazy my junior year with all the hype and expectations,” recalled Stott, who played collegiately in his hometown.” A lot of people who’d followed me throughout high school and college wanted the story, and I kind of never turned them down. They usually made it pretty easy for me, though.”

Having a former first-overall pick as a friend didn’t hurt. Fellow Las Vegas native Bryce Harper didn’t shower Stott with advice, but there was wisdom to glean from his experiences.

“It was just, ‘Be yourself, have fun, and you’ll go where you go. Don’t press, just play your game,’” Stott said of Harper’s counsel. “His dad helped me a lot with the advisor process, because when you’re in college it’s not an agent, it’s an advisor. So that family really helped with all the stuff outside of baseball. That was awesome, because it allowed me to just focus on playing.”

No. 5 on our Phillies Top Prospects list, Stott is currently with Double-A Reading after beginning the year with High-A Jersey Shore. He’s slashing .258/.380/.453 with nine home runs on the season.

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Vernon Wells went 4 for 6 against Al Leiter.

Pokey Reese went 4 for 6 against John Rocker.

Mickey Doolin went 4 for 6 against Erskine Mayer.

Fred Toney went 4 for 6 against Mule Watson.

Joe Torre went 5 for 9 against Tom House.

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Dayton Moore was featured here at FanGraphs last August in an interview that focused on the Kansas City Royals GM’s scouting background. Player evaluation is in Moore’s blood, and much for that reason it’s a subject he will expound on at length. He did so in that earlier piece, with several of his thoughts held back for later publication. With this year’s amateur draft now upon us, here are a few of them.

Bill Lajoie told me that any time you’re evaluating a pitcher, if he can make the ball move naturally without trying to manipulate it… you better sign as many of those guys as you can,” Moore said of the legendary scout and executive. “Bill Fischer told me many years ago that the most important pitch in baseball is a four-seam fastball up in the zone. Bill Slack told me that the curveball isn’t teachable — it’s a gift — so the guys that can really spin the ball, you better sign as many of them as you can.”

Fischer and Slack were themselves baseball lifers, each with a keen eye for pitching. As did Lajoie and others, they helped mold Moore’s approach to evaluating talent. Ultimately, it comes down to what the player is capable of doing.


“One of the things we know from all of our experiences is that it’s very difficult to teach speed,” continued Moore. “You better sign power, because you can’t really develop power. And again, you better sign guys who can spin the curveball because it’s a gift. It’s not that you can’t improve [pitches] — we have the knowledge and the tools to do that — but you’re probably not going to improve them by full grades.”

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A quiz:

The MLB draft has been held every year since 1965, and of the first-overall picks, Alex Rodriguez (113.7) has the most WAR. Which pitcher who was taken first overall has the most WAR?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

The Atlantic League’s Lexington Legends announced earlier this week that they’ve signed Jeremy Jeffress. The 33-year-old right-hander was released by the Washington Nationals in March.

Ian Kinsler signed with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks on July 2 and has since gone 6 for 16 with a pair of doubles. The 39-year-old infielder logged 1,999 hits over 14 big-league seasons.

Gastonia Honey Hunters corner infielder Josh Sale is slashing .271/.401/.667 and leads all Atlantic League hitters with 15 home runs. Beset by off-the-field issues after being drafted 17th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010, the 30-year-old Seattle native last played affiliated ball in 2014.

Nino Escalera, an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds in 1954, died earlier this month at age 91. A native of Puerto Rico, Escalera became the first person of color to appear in a game for the Reds when he singled as a pinch-hitter on April 17 of that year. The very next batter, Chuck Harmon, then pinch-hit, becoming the first African-American player in franchise history.

SABR’s Jerry Malloy Negro Leagues Conference will be held remotely from July 23-25. Information can be found here.

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The answer to the quiz is David Price, who currently has 42.0 WAR. Price was selected first overall in 2007.

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Rowdy Tellez changed addresses earlier this week. Eight years after the Blue Jays took him in the 30th round of the 2013 draft out of an Elk Grove, California high school, the 26-year-old first baseman was traded from Toronto to Milwaukee in exchange for Bowden Francis and Trevor Richards. In parts of four big-league seasons with his original organization, Tellez lofted 37 home runs — 21 of them in 2019 — while logging a 98 wRC+.

Tellez was featured here at FanGraphs early in his professional career. In September 2014. at the still-tender age of 19, he merited 500-plus words of attention in a Sunday Notes column — largely because of an ability to propel baseballs far distances. More on that later.

Shortly before the Blue Jays shipped him to the Brewers, I asked the 6-foot-4, 255-pound slugger how different — aside from being seven years older and wiser — he is now, compared to then.

“I have a lot less hair,” responded Tellez, whose amiability and sense of humor have remained strong throughout an up-and-down career. “And I think I’ve matured a lot. I’m not as frustrated when I don’t get hits — I’m not hunting hits anymore — I’m just controlling what I can control and finding the barrel as much as I can. The other thing is that back then I was playing every day, and now I have to adapt to a role of mostly facing righties and pinch-hitting.”

The numbers suggest that a platoon role isn’t optimal. Tellez has a higher career OPS against left-handed pitchers than he does against righties, and this year that’s especially true — .769 versus .567. Like many hitters who get limited left-on-left opportunities, he sees a lot of value in doing so.

“You’re always going to lock in when you face lefties,” said Tellez. “You have to keep your shoulder in and not try to do too much, so when I want to get back into a groove I like facing left-handers in batting practice.”

Two years ago, he hit a ball off a right-hander that caused a bit of controversy. Playing in Boston, Tellez tomahawked a home run off Nate Eovaldi that Statcast initially measured at 505 feet — three feet further than the Ted Williams blast immortalized with a red seat deep into Fenway Park’s right field bleachers.

It turned out that the Statcast estimate was erroneous, and by quite a lot. The number was later adjusted to a less-Herculean 430-plus. Impressive, but not the thing of legend.

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FARM REPORT

Cal Raleigh is slashing .324/.377/.608 with nine home runs for the Triple-A Tacoma Raniers. A 24-year-old catcher, Raleigh is No. 7 on our Seattle Mariners Top Prospect list.

MJ Melendez is slashing .269/.359/.557 with 16 home runs for the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The 22-year-old catcher is No. 13 on our Kansas City Royals Top Prospects list.

Adley Rutschman is slashing .283/.413/.507 with 12 home runs for the Double-A Bowie Baysox. The 23-year-old catcher is No. 1 on our Baltimore Orioles Top Prospects list.

Tyler Soderstrom is slashing .311/.396/.560 with nine home runs for the Low-A Stockton Ports. The 19-year-old catcher is No. 1 on our Oakland Athletics Top Prospects list.

Francisco Álvarez is slashing a combined .296/.427/.547 with nine home runs between the Low-A St. Lucie Mets and the High-A Brooklyn Cyclones. The 19-year-old catcher is No. 1 on our New York Mets Top Prospects list.

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A few days ago, I ran a Twitter poll asking the following: “Who is the best player in baseball (when healthy)?” The options were Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and “other.” A total of 455 votes were cast.

“Other” received a paucity of support, just 5.1%. As for the Ohtani-Trout numbers, let’s just say this was an interesting exercise given Trout’s injury and the emergence of Ohtani as an impact player on both sides of the ball. On one hand you have a player doing something that’s never been done in MLB (the Negro Leagues had notable two-way players such as Bullet Rogan and Martin Dihigo), while on the other hand you have a 29-year-old outfielder already established as an all-time great.

Trout won out, garnering 52.5% of the vote to Ohtani’s 42%.

Should the results have been more heavily in the former’s favor? Given Trout’s age and track record, they arguably should have been. That said, what Ohtani is doing is nothing short of sensational. Baseball is lucky to have both.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Yoshinobu Yamamoto is 9-5 with a 1.82 ERA for NPB’s Orix Buffaloes. The 22-year-old right-hander has 121 strikeouts in 113-and-two-thirds innings.

Kaima Taira is 1-1 with 11 saves and a 0.23 ERA for the Seibu Lions. The 21-year-old right-hander has 52 strikeouts in 39-and-two-thirds innings.

Eui Lee Lee 이의리 has 71 strikeouts in 66-and-two-thirds innings for the KBO’s Kia Tigers. A 19-year-old left-hander — he celebrated his birthday last month — Lee has allowed 50 hits and has a 4.18 ERA.

Woo-suk Go 고우석 has a 1.55 ERA and 29 strikeouts in the same number of innings for the LG Twins. The 22-year-old right-hander has allowed 23 hits and has yet to be taken deep.

Two members of the Doosan Bears and one player from the NC Dinos tested positive for COVID-19, causing the LG-Doosan, NC-Kiwoom, and KT-Kia games scheduled for Saturday to be canceled (per Yonhap News reporter Jeeho Yoo.)

The Taiwan CDC has approved the Chinese Professional Baseball Leagues’s proposal to resume the 2021 season on July 13. The CPBL has been suspended since late May due to COVID.

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Our preseason projections had the Tigers winning 72 games this year, a total that, in my opinion, undersold the club’s young talent. I shared that with Detroit manager A.J. Hinch at the outset of the season, and got this response:

“I love [FanGraphs] projections in the sense that you look into every team,” responded Hinch. “But I don’t pay a lot of attention to trying to beat numbers. I think we have a club that can win games and we’re going to play every game and find out how many it is. It’s not that important to me what people think we are — we’re going to prove you right or prove you wrong — I just want our guys fixated on winning today’s game, and winning series. We’ll tally them up at the end and see whether that number is good enough for everybody else.”

The Tigers were an abysmal 9-24 on May 7, on pace for far fewer wins than their projected total. They’ve since gone 31-26, and despite losing four of their last five games they’re now at a more respectable 40-50.

What will the win total be at season’s end, and how satisfied will the Tigers fanbase be with that number? Only time will tell.

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Prior to the start of the season, I asked Bud Black about his longevity as a big-league manager, noting that his 2,000th game was right around the corner. The ever-personable Colorado Rockies skipper spoke of how grateful he is, and about how the position should never be taken for granted. His words were shared in a Sunday Notes column on March 30.

Black will reach the 2,000 mark today. In doing so, he’ll become just the 62nd manager to reach that number, and as noted in the earlier column he’ll finish the season 55th on the all-time list. Congrats to “Buddy” on the milestone.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At The New York Post, Andrew Marchand wrote about how Suzyn Waldman is frustrated with the Yankees’ broadcast situation.

At Pitcher List, Nicole Cahill presented us with a brief overview of what to expect from baseball in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

Baseball America’s Alexis Brudnicki talked to Toronto Blue Jays scouting analyst Ginger Poulson about preparing for the amateur draft.

Lookout Landing’s Adrienne Leary looked at rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert’s stellar outing — his best since debuting with the Mariners two months ago — against the Yankees on Thursday.

Adam Ottavino uses “Earthing” to help him focus on pitching, and Stan Grossfeld talked to him about it for The Boston Globe.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Mike Piazza had at least one RBI in 15 consecutive games with the New York Mets in 2000. Piazza drove in 28 runs during that stretch, which ran from June 14 through July 2.

Shawon Dunston hit 150 home runs and struck out 1,000 times.
Jeffrey Leonard hit 144 home runs and struck out 1,000 times.

Ted Williams had 2,654 hits and a .344 batting average. His OBP was .482.
George Sisler had 2,812 hits and a .340 batting average. His OBP was .379.

In 1956, Roberto Clemente came to the plate 572 times and drew 13 walks. He had a .311 batting average and a .330 OBP. Eddie Yost came to the plate 684 times and drew 151 walks. He had a .231 batting average and a .412 OBP.

Ethan Allen had a .300 batting average over 13 big-league seasons (1926-1938) but only a .336 OPB as he walked just 233 times in 4,765 plate appearances. Allen went on to be a longtime coach at Yale University, where one of his players was George H.W. Bush.

On today’s date in 1954, Jim “Igor” Command slugged a grand slam as the Philadelphia Phillies fell to the Brooklyn Dodgers 8-7. It was the first of four career hits for Command, who in 1996 was inducted into the Grand Rapids, Michigan Sports Hall of Fame alongside Gerald R. Ford.

Davey Crockett made his MLB debut on today’s date in 1901. A first baseman with the Detroit Tigers, Crockett went on to log 29 hits in 102 at bats in his lone big-league season.

The Kansas City Athletics traded left-hander Tommy Lasorda to the New York Yankees in exchange for Wally Burnette on today’s date in 1956. Lasorda, who pitched 58-and-a-third big-league innings and went 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA, never appeared in a game with the Yankees.

Players born on today’s date include Binky Jones, who saw action in 10 games for the National League’s Brooklyn Robins in 1924. A shortstop, Jones had four hits in 37 at bats.

Also born on today’s date was Sensation Clark, who pitched in the Negro National League from 1922-1924. Clark played for the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis ABCs, Memphis Red Sox, and Pittsburgh Keystones.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Trinian
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Trinian

Thanks for the column! It is required Sunday reading for me.

There’s a small error in the first paragraph. You inadvertently left out “Nevada” in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.