What Bryson Stott saw from Kyle Schwarber that helped him work on his ‘No. 1′ priority

The Phillies' Bryson Stott watches his first-inning home run against the Orioles on Thursday at BayCare Ballpark.


CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryson Stott took two pitches and then launched the third one 404 feet to right-center field in the first inning against the Pirates on Thursday. The at-bat was not only notable because it was the Phillies second baseman’s first home run of the spring, but also because of where the pitch was located.

It was a high fastball, a pitch that gave Stott problems as a rookie last season when he hit .234/.295/.358 in 127 games. He said figuring out which high fastballs to hit — and how to better hit them — was “No. 1” on his priority list this offseason. And he went about it by studying one of his teammates.

» READ MORE: Bryce Harper feels good as he reports to Phillies, but won’t rush his return to the lineup

“I watched a ton of [Kyle] Schwarber’s swings,” Stott said. “He’s got the fastest wrist break I’ve ever seen, when he brings his barrel through the zone. So I was just seeing how he does it. It’s a fine line because you don’t want to do it too fast because you’ll start hooking ground balls, but I watched a lot of Kyle’s stuff over the offseason. He hits the high pitch really well — second to none.”

Stott sat at home in Las Vegas, holding his bat and imitating the same wrist flick as Schwarber to create some muscle memory. He brought that into the batting cage to practice it more. When he played at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, Stott didn’t break his wrists until he finished his swing. He said he had good enough hand-eye coordination to get away with it. But in the minor leagues, and especially in the major leagues, he realized that he need to work on his whip through the zone.

“It’s a really quick movement,” Stott said. “That little move, of how you get the barrel through the zone, is something I really honed in on by watching Schwarber’s videos.”

Soto arrives in camp

After dealing with visa issues that caused him to arrive to camp about a month late, Gregory Soto flew into Clearwater on Wednesday night. Thursday was his first day in Phillies camp.

The left-handed reliever, who was acquired via trade from the Tigers in the offseason, said he’ll pitch wherever the Phillies need him to even though he has experience closing.

“Honestly I’m just happy to be here,” Soto said. “We have a pretty good bullpen. If they want me to throw in the fifth inning, I’ll do that. I just want to help the team.”

» READ MORE: Phillies spring takeaways: Andrew Painter’s elbow, Bryce Harper’s arrival, and bench decisions

Soto threw a bullpen and a simulated game on the backfields. Manager Rob Thomson said he looked “very good.”

“I sat up top and watched,” Thomson said of Soto. “The fastball is electric, the slider is really good.”

Soto has two days off and then he’ll pitch in a game on Sunday against Toronto.

“He’s been staying on schedule with all of the rest of the guys except pitching in games,” Thomson said. “He’s ready to go.”

Extra bases

Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper hit off a tee on Thursday, according to Thomson. Harper will hit off a tee every other day as part of his rehab. After that, he will progress to soft toss, cage batting practice, field batting practice and live batting practice.

“We’re going to take it slow with him obviously,” Thomson said. “He’s a great player and we want him back 100%.”

Thursday marked the first time Harper has made contact with a baseball since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in November. He had been dry swinging in the months following the procedure.


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