As we continue to work our way backwards in time through Philadelphia Phillies history from 1971-2019, today we move on to the position player not previously covered in the series with the combination of little impact on the 2017 Phillies and who is unlikely to have an impactful big-league career.
The Phillies made University of Nevada-Reno product Brock Stassi, born and raised near Sacramento, California, the club’s 33rd round selection in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
Stassi had been a two-player in college and was named the Pitcher of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference for 2010 when he earned second team All-WAC honors. During his senior year at Nevada-Reno his bat would earn him a spot on the All-WAR first team. It was that bat that the Phillies wanted.
The left-handed Stassi spent the next six seasons pushing his way up through the farm system one level at a time, often at least partically repeating a level from one season to the next.
At Double-A Reading in 2015, Stassi broke out with an Eastern League Most Valuable Player campaign. He hit .300 while blasting 15 home runs and driving in 90 runs in helping the Fightin’ Phils to a first-place finish. Stassi also fielded his first base position well, leading the EL at the position with a .995 fielding percentage.
By the 2017 season, Stassi had accumulate more than 1,700 minor league plate appearances and done winter stints playing in both Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Given an invitation to spring training that year, he made the most of his opportunity.
During play in the Grapefruit League down in Florida that year, Stassi slashed .306/.368/.645 and led the Phillies with six home runs and 17 RBIs over 62 plate appearances across 25 games. That outstanding spring performance paid off with a spot on the active roster that went north for the regular season opener.
With two out and nobody on in the top of the 8th inning at Great American Ball Park and the Phillies on top of the host Cincinnati Reds by a 4-1 score, Stassi was sent to pinch-hit for reliever Edubray Ramos. He would work a five-pitch walk against Reds’ right-hander Michael Lorenzen, and the team would hold on for a 4-3 victory.
Three days later on April 6, 2017 with the club still in Cincinnati, Stassi was given his first starting opportunity as Mackanin opted to sit the right-handed bat of regular first baseman Tommy Joseph against Reds right-hander Rookie Davis.
Stassi hit seventh in the batting order that day, going 0-2 with two strikeouts while also drawing another walk. He would be taken out as part of a double-switch in the bottom of the 6th inning of what would become a 7-4 Phillies loss.
On April 10, 2017 at Citizens Bank Park, Stassi made his first hit in Major League Baseball a big one. Leading off the bottom of the 9th inning that day with the Phillies trailing the visiting New York Mets by 4-2, Stassi stepped in against Addison Reed. He worked the count to 2-2 in what became an epic nine-pitch at-bat and on that ninth pitch blasted a solo home run deep to right-center field. The Phillies put the tying run on base two batters later, but Reed wriggled out of it and handed the Mets a 4-3 victory.
He would remain with the Phillies into early June, then after a couple of weeks back at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Stassi returned to play another month in the big-leagues from late June through late July.
Overall during that 2017 campaign, Stassi appeared in 51 games, including a dozen starts at first base and two more in left field. Over 90 plate appearances he slashed .167/.278/.295 and would produce two homers, five extra-base hits, seven RBIs, and six runs scored.
Those four months in the 2017 season would be Stassi’s only big-league appearances to date. He was granted free agency that fall and signed in early December with the Minnesota Twins who released him the following May. He moved on in that summer of 2018 season to play Independent ball with New Britain in the Atlantic League.
After hitting well at New Britain he was noticed by the San Francisco Giants and signed with them in August. Stassi then spent last season playing in the Giants’ minor league system at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.
Again granted free agency in December 2019, Stassi hooked on with the Oakland A’s and was invited to spring training this year. But he was released back on March 27 just before rosters were frozen by MLB due to the coronavirus shutdown.
Stassi has a younger brother, Max Stassi, who has appeared in 183 games across nine big-league seasons from 2009-19 and who won a World Series ring with the 2017 Houston Astros team.
Stassi will turn 31-year-old this August and his dreams of ever returning to the big-leagues are probably little more than that at his point. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see him catch on with some organization to fill a spot in their upper minor leagues once baseball opens back up.