What Do the Milwaukee Brewers Have in Brett Phillips?


Rebuilding franchises like the Milwaukee Brewers have been all about collecting prospects from other teams recently, even if it meant parting ways with a productive major leaguer.

The organization’s trade of Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros proved as much. This allowed the Brewers to net to four prospects to further their reconstruction. The most intriguing of the four was top prospect Brett Phillips. But with the trade now a few months old, what does Milwaukee exactly possess in the young outfielder?

Before he came over to the Brewers in July, Phillips was tearing up the Single-A and Double-A level within the Astros organization. In 66 games with the Astros A+ affiliate, Phillps was hitting .320/.379/.588 with 15 HR and 53 RBI. That was good for a .416 wOBA and 159 wRC+. In 31 games with the Astros AA affiliate, Phillips maintained similar a average (.321) and OBP (.372), but his slugging percentage took a plunge to .463. In fact he only finished with one home run and 18 RBI during this time. The inflated numbers at the A+ level isn’t surprising due to the fact that the Astros affiliate is located in Lancaster, CA, which is known for being in a hitter’s friendly league.

Once the trade over to the Brewers organization took place, he finished with the Brewers AA affiliate, the Biloxi Shuckers, for the last 23 games of the season. In 80 at-bats for the Shuckers, Phillips slashed a batting line of .250/.361/.413, which was clearly a step down from his production level to begin the 2015 season. However, the fact that he was traded mid-season along with being introduced to a new organization would help explain this issue. That is a lot of change for any player to experience in short order.

But despite Phillips’ struggles to end the 2015 season, the 21-year old outfielder is currently ranked as the second-best prospect in the Brewer’s system according to MLB.com. In his brief stint in the Arizona Fall League, Phillips slashed a .346/.452/.538 in 26 at-bats. Not much of a sample size, but it is clear that he is still producing in limited exposure.

Most important of all, however, is that Phillips seemingly possesses the tools to quickly advance through the minor league system and eventually reach the major leagues.

According to Fangraphs, Phillips currently maintains a future value (FV) of 50 with an above average speed rating (55/55) and a plus plus throwing arm (70/70). His raw power rating (45/45+) currently ranks below average, but could see improvement in the future as he ages. Phillips’ hit tool rating (20/50) and game power rating (20/45) also grade out to be below average to average in the future. But the gaps in these tool ratings should decrease as Phillips advances through the minors.

Then there is the issue of his future position. Currently Phillips is considered to play at least an average center field going forward. A corner outfield spot, probably right field with Ryan Braun entrenched in left field, will be in his future when considering his natural athleticism and plus arm.

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The Brewers appear to have a future major league caliber outfielder waiting and improving in the minors. Phillips alone could make the deadline deal with the Astros a win for the Brew Crew. And while he appears to be at least a year away from cracking the 25-man roster in Milwaukee, the fact remains that Phillps is one of organization’s most talented prospects. It is only a matter of time before he finally gets his call to the majors.

**Statistics and FV ratings are provided by Fangraphs.com and MiLB.com**