Yesterday the Milwaukee Brewers promoted rookie outfielder Brett Phillips to the major league roster. He made his MLB debut against the San Francisco Giants, going 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. Let’s take a look at his profile and what he offers.
Phillips was originally in the Houston Astros system, drafted in the sixth round in 2012 from high school in Seminole, Florida. Initially a mediocre performer, he took a huge step forward in 2014 hitting .310/.375/.529 between Low-A and High-A. He continued mashing in 2015. This drew the attention of the Milwaukee Brewers who acquired him in that summer’s Carlos Gomez deal. He finished ‘15 with a .309/.375/.527 line with three minor league clubs.
2016 was different: he spent the season in Double-A but had contact issues, fanning 154 times in 441 at-bats while hitting .229/.332/.397 overall.
Phillips ranked 11th on the pre-season Milwaukee Brewers Top 20 prospects list for 2017 with the following comment:
11) Brett Phillips, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, sixth round pick by Astros in 2012, acquired in Carlos Gomez trade; hit disappointing .229/.332/.397 with 16 homers, 67 walks, 154 strikeouts in 441 at-bats in Double-A; still scouts well with plus speed, plus raw power, and 70-grade throwing arm; can crush mistakes and makes an effort to work counts but problems with swing mechanics were exploited by Southern League pitchers; given tools and past success he deserves more chances to make adjustments but he may be at least another year away. ETA late 2018.
Moved up to Triple-A Colorado Springs for 2017, Phillips was hitting .297/.369/.589 with 11 homers, 21 walks, and 60 strikeouts in 175 at-bats.
Listed at 6-0, 190, Phillips is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower born May 30th, 1994. He’s an exciting player to watch, featuring 60-grade power, 60-grade speed, and a 70-grade cannon outfield arm. He makes an effort to work counts and understands the importance of getting on base.
When Phillips has his swing in gear he’s been able to hit for average. The swing got long at times in Double-A last season but has been more effective this year, although his K/rate remains elevated. He’s had somewhat sharp platoon splits in the past although showed signs of closing that up in Triple-A.
My guess is that his batting average and OBP will be inconsistent, at least at first, but that his power and defense will make him a viable option even when he’s having contact troubles. He’s only 23 and still has a lot of development time. He has a shot at being a multi-category regular and at worst should be a valuable platoon player.