Bryson Stott grew up in Las Vegas. His parents met as students at UNLV, as his father was the starting quarterback from 1989-91 while his mother was a cheerleader. The two had a strong devotion to their alma mater.
That passion wasn’t always shared by Stott, though. Originally, he wanted to play college baseball elsewhere. But after taking an unofficial visit his junior year of high school, Stott’s mindset changed.
After seeing the university and baseball program up close on his visit, Stott realized he wanted to attend UNLV. He also appreciated the idea of playing in his hometown so his family and friends could attend games.
In the midst of his third year at UNLV, Stott doesn’t regret his decision, he said. It also helps that he’s thrived on the baseball field since his freshman year.
The left-handed hitting shortstop is one of the top position players in college baseball and will be a first-round pick in June’s MLB draft. He even could hear his named called in the first five picks of the draft.
He didn’t spend a significant amount of time dealing with professional scouts in high school but has dealt with them the last two summers while playing in the Northwoods League, Cape Cod League and with the Collegiate National Team.
“Playing in front of them in the summer and doing that day in and day out really helps,” Stott said. “You learn to not look in the stands and just play your game.”
Stott started as a freshman in 2017. He hit .294 with one home run and 29 RBIs in 214 at-bats. His production increased significantly as a sophomore last year when he batted .365 with four home runs and 32 RBIs in 252 at-bats.
He is hitting .310 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 116 at-bats this season. Although his batting average is down from a year ago, he’s increased his on-base percentage from .442 to .447 this season.
He has drawn 36 walks – four more than last season – while striking out 23 times this spring.
Stott displayed an increase in power early this season, notching five home runs through his first 12 games. He hasn’t hit a homer in his last 19 games, though.
“I hit the weight room hard this summer,” Stott said. “I am just getting the pitches up that I know I can drive, which allowed me to get the home runs early. They were pitches that I could handle, and I just hit them over the fence.”
Stott is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and is a well-rounded player. His best trait is his hitting ability. The left-handed hitter has an advanced approach at the plate that allows him to hit for average and walk more than he strikes out. He consistently barrels up pitches but is more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a reliable power threat.
He also has solid speed that plays well on the bases and in the field.
“I love hitting,” Stott said. “It’s what I love to do when I am playing. I love to run the bases and just get out there and run around. Having the approach at the plate is probably the best thing I have going right now.”
He also has the skills to stick at shortstop in the pro ranks. He has solid arm strength and the agility to make all the routine plays.
In his first two years at UNLV, Stott struggled with his defense. He committed eight errors as a freshman and 17 errors last season.
When Stott joined the Collegiate National Team, he worked with the team’s head coach Paul Mainieri, who serves in the same role at Louisiana State.
Mainieri stressed attacking the baseball instead of letting the ball come to him. This approach allowed Stott to put himself in a better position to field the baseball. His improvement in his aggressiveness and footwork allowed him to experience better results last summer.
It also has carried over into this season. He has four errors and improved his fielding percentage to .974, which is his highest mark in his three-year career.
“I am more aggressive on the ground balls, and I am playing the ground ball and not letting them play me like I did a few times last year,” Stott said.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.