Over the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to spend some time with two outstanding gentlemen and two outstanding baseball prospects for the Houston Astros: Corpus Christi Hooks' Brett Phillips and AJ Reed. There is so much incredible information to pass along to you all that I had to split this article up into two parts.
Part One will concentrate on Brett Phillips with a personal scouting report from teammate AJ Reed. Part Two will look at AJ Reed; covering his time at University of Kentucky and what Houston Astros fans can expect to see from him in the future.
Brett Phillips arrived to AA Corpus Christi having spent the first half of 2015 dominating the Cal League to the tune of .320 batting average and 15 home runs in 66 games. He became an obvious choice as a mid-season All-Star and a candidate for a mid-season promotion. He was more than ready for a new challenge.
In the six games I attended, Brett primarily played center field and was their lead-off hitter. He did play right field in two games, alternating between the two outfield spots with Teoscar Hernandez. In the games I attended, I was able to see the flashes of a legit game changing defender with outstanding catches, great routes and at least 70 arm strength. His speed is currently more present in the field and is well above average.
At the plate he did have some swing and miss with a number of strikeouts, but he also produced a couple of multi-hit games. This is where you can begin to see his adjustments to the quality of Texas League pitching and how they approach him. I honestly see a future major league regular with possible gold glove and All-Star potential. The tools as a group are not seen often and play in games. Rather than take my word on the talents of Brett Phillips, here is what Hooks first baseman AJ Reed has to say about the breakout star:
"Brett Phillips is an easy player to evaluate. He is a true five-tool player that always give 110% on the field. You can pretty much guarantee he will get a hit or two each and every game. Just from playing with him all year he has great confidence and will hit .300 at any level he is in. He will hit home runs here and there and shows some home run power but when he gets it going he will hit them in bunches. He is definitely one of the best hitters I have seen since entering pro ball."
Brett offered some insight on himself, his time with hitting coach Cesar Cedeno, and why his parents gave him the middle name Maverick. Here is what he had to say:
"I spent some time with CC (Cesar Cedeno) in advanced rookie ball in Greenville. He was a great hitting coach and a great mentor for me to begin my career. He is definitely a guy that has a lot to say and a lot of good advice to give to young players. He was one of the greats to play the game, a five tool player and a great guy to be around. I was blessed to have him at the beginning of my career. I see him in spring training each year and we have a great coach/player relationship. He actually calls me "Electro" which is electric in Spanish. He says I am an exciting and high energy player. So that is the nick name I have been given."
And the name Maverick?
"Maverick is actually my middle name. A little story for you. My dad's middle name is James. Brett James Phillips. When he was younger his dad and his friends would always call my dad Maverick. So when he got older he wanted to name his first son Maverick, or at least his middle name. So it is not from Top Gun, it is actually from the old James Garner cowboy movie Maverick."
Despite seeing the physical talents of a Top 50 minor league prospect, the primary thing I took away from these games and watching Brett is his sheer joy for the game. There are not many players that relish and appreciate what has been given them more than Brett Phillips. His love for the game is contagious and fun to watch. Be ready to be an instant fan when you see him on the diamond.
Walter B. Barnard