While Tyler Phillips has been on the radar for many of us prospect nerds, he wasn’t necessarily the first Rangers farmhand that came to mind when thinking about the top prospects in the system. The Rangers took Phillips in the 16th round of the 2015 draft out of his New Jersey high school and promptly sent him to the Arizona League. The righty would spend 2016 with Short Season Spokane where he struggled to a 6.44 ERA over 58.2 innings. From there, he would get a crack at Single-A in 2017, but was sent back down to Spokane after the Short Season kicked off. In just 25 innings he sported a 6.39 ERA in Single-A.
Fast forward to 2018 and the Rangers believed that the 20 year old had developed enough to warrant another shot at full season ball by starting him off in Single-A. He has done nothing but prove them right so far. Phillips is in the middle of a breakout season where his ERA has plummeted way down to 2.79 in 116 innings with Hickory, and that’s not all he has done.
Of course, the ERA is all well and good, but when you dive deeper into the numbers, Phillips’ performance this year has been even more impressive. He has posted a South Atlantic league leading 2.23 FIP and his 1.06 WHIP ranks sixth. Opposing hitters have managed a .321 BABIP off of him which makes the low ERA and low WHIP even more noteworthy. The biggest turnaroud for Phillips has been his command and his ability to generate swings and misses. Last year, in his short stint with Hickory, he posted a rough K/BB ratio of 1.67. This go around, he has seen that skyrocket to a league leading 9.42 K/BB ratio.
At 6’5, 200 lbs, and just 20 years old, Phillips has a very projectable frame and arm. He already has what I would consider three plus pitches in his fastball, changeup, and curveball and each of them have plenty of time to get even better. The command was really the only thing keeping him off of a lot of folks top Rangers prospect lists, but there is no arguing he has solved that issue this season. 116 innings is enough of a sample from him for me to be sold.
Featured Image Courtesy of: James Snook / Spokane Indians