I’m trying my best to get these up as fast as possible, but 30 minutes have passed by now and I’m sure you’ve seen the news.
Travel back a couple hours and we didn’t know if the Royals were getting Brett Phillips or not. Reports seemed iffy, but signs were pointing to it. I was eating the food I had purchased at a QuickTrip (some of the deals in that kitchen…. man, pretzels, pizzas, a variety of different styled hot dogs, like my gosh… what an amazing place) while this was going on, so I tweeted throughout to pass the time.
While not as highly regarded as he used to be, Brett Phillips still serves some decent upside. The strikeouts issues are definitely concerning, but he does enough things well where you could still see his floor being a fourth outfielder type.
A sixth round pick by the Houston Astros in the 2012 draft out of a Florida high school, Phillips struggled out of the gate to start his professional career, hitting zero home runs his first two seasons. He exploded onto the scene in 2014 though, knocking out 29 doubles, 14 triples, and 17 home runs, while swiping 23 bags on his way to a .310/.375/.529 slashline in 130 games across Low-A and High-A.
The in-game power and speed display Phillips put on as a centerfielder skyrocketed him up the prospect rankings, reaching as high as #32 in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline.
Phillips was dealt in the middle of the 2015 season as part of a package that brought the Astros Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez. During his time with Milwaukee, consistency with the bat has been an issue, as sudden swing-and-miss issues developed against more advanced pitching. He repeated the AA level in 2016 and turned in a disappointing season, but the Brewers would still force him up to AAA in 2017 where he reestablished some of his prospect status, slashing .305/.377/.567 in 100 games (should mention in a very hitter-friendly park at Colorado Springs). This was enough to give Phillips some time in the big leagues last season, where he impressed in the outfield and slashed .276/.351/.448 in 37 games, racking up five stolen bases and four home runs. Contact was still a big issue though, striking out in 34.7 percent of his plate appearances.
Phillips has spent the majority of the 2018 season back in AAA with the Brewers employing a crowded bench at the big league level. He’s taken a step back, slashing .240/.331/.411 in 71 games, striking out in 31.4 percent of plate appearances. He’s also seen 15 game with the Brewers big league club.
The FanGraphs guys have Phillps pegged as 45 FV guy, which would be borderline top 100 and would be good for top five-ish in the Royals system. He does a lot of things well, owning a cannon of an arm, a solid approach at the plate, decent raw pop, plus-speed and plus skills at all three outfield positions. Sticking in center should be no issue for him.
This play right here sums up the arm. Amazing. He barely even set himself. Probably 70-grade, it’s up there with the likes of Seuly Matias and Khalil Lee as the best in the Royals system.
A skilled fielder with great range and route-running.
He yanked this outside pitch and had the strength to push it over the fence for a home run.
The stance is pretty upright and normal. The timing and manner of the leg kick are a bit funky. And there’s a lot of pre-swing movement with the bat. Most of strength comes from the upper-half it seems.
Pitchers have simply outsmart Phillips at the big league level. He’ll need to improve upon that and make adjustments to have a chance at becoming something more significant. He’s interesting enough to be one of the Royals more highly rated prospects though. This may be my favorite acquisition of the deadline by the Royals out of their three trades. They did well on this one.