Friday, June 12, 2015

Getting to Know Astros/JetHawks CF Brett Phllips

Phew! I finally made it. This will be the 10th out of 10 interviews I conducted on my recent trip to California to visit the High A Lancaster team and the AAA Fresno team. (See the links at the bottom for any that you may have missed.) I decided early on to save this interview for last. Consider it dessert.

Anyone who has ever had the privilege to meet and interact with Lancaster CF Brett Phillips will tell you that he is one of those people who has the rare talent of making you feel immediately as though you are his best friend. He's open, generous, funny and enjoys life to its fullest. The fact that he's a very talented ballplayer as well is the cherry on top of the sundae. In 55 games for Lancaster this season, he is hitting .321/.383/.575 with 16 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 44 RBI and 54 runs scored.

Lancaster Manager Omar Lopez said of Phillips, "I have to say that I feel very privileged to be able to manage him in Low A and HIgh A. If you have to rank from 1 to 10 the players that (I've been) excited to manage in the last couple of years, Brett Phillips is one of the top three guys because I think he has the perfect makeup to be able to succeed in the big leagues in my opinion."

Lopez went on to say how impressed he was about what Phillips, who is more than a year and a half younger than the average player in the California League, has been able to accomplish at the level. And he is particularly impressed with Phillips's demeanor. "You will never know when Phillips is going through any kind of bad situation. He's going to be the same guy every day ... on the good days, on the bad days. There's a lot of good things that I can say about Brett. We can stay all day long talking about him," said Lopez

The one thing that Hitting Coach Darryl Robinson really wants Brett to work on is his focus. Robinson related a story about Phillips from late 2014, "Last year, we talked before the playoffs started and I told him, 'You know, you're a game changer. You can control an entire ballgame. And what you have to understand is you have to be focused in order to do that. You're fast. You play great defense. You can bunt. You can hit. You can hit for power. Steal a base. You can do all of these things. So it's very important that you be the leader that you are, but be focused about being that leader.' The saying was, 'If you go, we go.' We won the championship and he started off with a triple and he just had a really, really good series and I have a video of him saying, 'You go, we go. You go, we go. If I go, we go.' So that was really, really cool."

The day that I had scheduled my interview with Phillips, I showed up to observe early work. When I got to the ballpark, one of the first things I saw was Brett wearing a fake mustache ... upside down!

When informed of his folicular faux paus, he quickly righted the situation ...

While waiting for Lopez to address the troops, a game of dugout hockey quickly ensued with Phillips acting as goalie ...

And, Brett being Brett, he proceeded to take early work and batting practice wearing the fake mustache ...

And finally we talked ...

Flash forward to 2017. The Astros are in the playoffs. George Springer is dancing in the dugout. Brett Phillips is chanting, "I go, we go. I go, we go," following that with his dying donkey laugh. And Carlos Correa is off to the side watching it all with a bemused smile, the epitome of cool. And scene. Fade to black.

Thank you for your time, Brett, and thank you for being you! Best of luck as the season continues to unfold.


Other recent interviews:
1B Jon Singleton
LHP Bryan Radziewski
1B A.J. Reed
RHP Joe Musgrove
3B J.D. Davis
LHP Albert Minnis
SS Carlos Correa
RHP Tyson Perez
C Tyler Heineman

You can find more on virtually every player in the Astros minor league system in the 2015 Houston Farm System Handbook available on Amazon for download to your kindle, iPad, laptop, desktop or smart phone.

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