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Brock Stassi’s Makeover Pays Off



CLEARWATER, Fla.—
If it weren’t for a complete remake of his swing, first baseman Brock Stassi wouldn’t be in his first big league camp. Heck, he might be out of baseball. Phillies minor league officials debated Stassi’s future when they met to set rosters before breaking camp a year ago.
"We have to make some tough decisions,” farm director Joe Jordan said. "I don’t know that we seriously considered (releasing him), but his name came up and a lot of guys in the room defended him. Thank goodness they did because he really stepped up.” Stassi, a 33rd-round pick and $1,000 signing out of Nevada-Reno in 2011, returned to Double-A for a second straight season and hit .300 with 15 homers, 90 RBIs and a .863 OPS. He won the Eastern League MVP. Not bad for a guy who feared he might be released after hitting .232 with eight homers, 44 RBIs and a .629 OPS in 124 games at Reading in 2014. At the urging of his brother, Astros catcher Max, Stassi remade his swing after the 2014 season to look like a lefthanded version of Josh Donaldson. Max and Donaldson had been teammates in the Oakland system. Brock even hooked up with Donaldson’s hitting guru, Bobby Tewksbury, who sent coaching tips via video and text message. "The swing made all the difference in the world,” Jordan said. "He got confident with it and just kept going.” "I think it saved my career,” said Stassi, who turned 26 in August. Stassi called the invitation to big league camp, "surreal.” Jordan said, "he earned it.” The Phillies plan to send him to Triple-A, where he’ll share time at first base with Tommy Joseph. "Brock’s a grinder,” Jordan said. "Those guys have to prove it at every level. He’ll go to Triple-A with a chance to prove it again this year. He’s got a chance, for sure.” PHIL-UPS • The Phillies and Twins purchased 45 acres in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic and will open a semi-shared academy there in September. Baseball staffs and facilities will be separate. The team will share dining and maintenance facilities and costs. • Relief prospect Jimmy Cordero
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was slowed by a sore right triceps early in camp. Cordero, acquired from Toronto last year, is Baseball America’s No. 28 Phillies prospect.

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