Last season BCB readers (sic) participated in the annual ranking of the Brewers’ top prospects. Let’s see how those prospects advanced (or not) their standings in the list.
#2: Brett Phillips
Brett Maverick Phillips spent the 2016 season toiling for the Biloxi Shuckers, the Brewers’ AA affiliate. He is continuing his development in the Arizona Fall League. While the Shuckers didn’t match the success of the 2015 iteration, they did manage a winning record. Phiilips was the regular centerfielder, and at 22 was two years younger than the average in the Southern League.
Brett was taken by the Houston Astros in the 2012 amateur draft, out of high school. He came to the Brewers as part of the multi player deal sending Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros. His power could be a plus, but his hit tool looks average to below. He has good speed with a very strong arm. However, last year looked like a step back in his development as his walk rate and BABIP fell. His high strikeout totals were alarming (29%), but really wasn’t much different than 2015 (30.6%). BABIP dropped from .393 in 2015 at Biloxi to .311 in ‘16.
A slash of .229/.332/.397, OPS of .729, isn’t impressive. Brett’s 16 homers ranked him 4th in the Southern League, his 12 steals ranked 15th, 62 RBI came in 9th, and he was 13th in runs scored. Phillips had 10 outfield assists in 2016.
Not bad numbers, but not strong for the second rated prospect in the system. The high strikeout rate combined with the low BABIP are at best unsettling. It is possible that Phillips was working on a different approach at the plate in an attempt to increase his power production, but that is pure speculation.
It would appear that centerfield might be blocked at AAA Colorado Springs next year, unless Lewis Brinson (acquired from the Rangers in the Jonathan Lucroy trade) is moved up to the Brewers.
Phillips is one of several system prospects and big leaguers working in center. With the likes of Keon Broxton, Lewis Brinson, Trent Clark, and Corey Ray in the pipeline or already with the big club, Phillips needs to show more production to rate above them for center, or even in a corner spot. Phillips might need to play a corner spot if the Brewers want him at Colorado Springs for the entire 2017 season - most likely rightfield. At 22 it certainly isn’t time to panic or give up on Brett, but his standing in the Brewers’ prospect list for 2017 might take a hit.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs