A raw prep arm that was all projection when he signed with the Rangers out of high school in 2015, Phillips established himself as a prospect this season with Class A Hickory. The ace of the Crawdads staff, he lead the South Atlantic League in wins while posting solid strikeout and walk totals.
He throws from a simple semi-windup, landing on a stiff front leg before a high three-quarters slot. The fastball sits in the low-90s, touching 93 mph at best, showing a hint of armside movement. Phillips has more control than true command, working frequently over the plate but elevating within the strike zone. He struggled to command the armside, specifically, in my late-season look. His best off-speed is a changeup, coming in at 79-to-81 mph with quality sell and armspeed. He throws a true slider (80-to-83 mph) with slurvy action, showing sharper bite when thrown near the high end of that velo range. Phillips’ mid-70s curveball gives a second look at a breaking ball and has potential, though he slows his arm badly and tips the pitch at present.
Texas’ scouting and player development groups deserve a lot of credit for Phillips’ progression since he signed. I love the projectible 6-foot-5 frame, and the way Phillips challenges opposing hitters over the plate. The impressive physique and strikethrowing ability give him the chance to develop as a starter at higher levels, though he will need to sharpen his command and breaking pitches. If he can do that, the ceiling is a back-rotation starter. If not, a more realistic middle ground could be a swingman or middle reliever.