P.J. Phillips finding his own path

The Angels are beginning to build their franchise into one of the top-flight organizations in the major leagues from year-to-year. Being in Los Angeles area, the Angels have the ability to lure the best free agents to their club, and these signings are a major reason why they are consistently in the post-season.

A major reason why the Angels are able to produce year-after-year, however, is not simply because of the success of their free agent signings, it is their ability to produce good, young talent within the organization.

Former top prospects Howie Kendrick and Casey Kotchman have already stamped their arrival in L.A. and have been big contributors to the franchise. But the talent doesn't end with these three.

Shortstop P.J. Phillips has been waiting in the wings of the organization for his opportunity to knock. A second-round draft choice of the Angels in 2005, Phillips has not needed to ride the coat-tails of older brother and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon, he has simply proven himself with his own talent.

Much like his brother Brandon, Phillips has the ability to take a base basically at will.

"Coming into spring training this year, they told me to use my speed and be more aggressive on the bases," said Phillips. "I came into this season trying to steal every pitch. It's easy to score runs when everyone on base is moving."

His season can be considered a success in that regard. Phillips swiped 34 bags in 38 attempts this year, adding eight triples with his aggressiveness on the bases.

At 6-foot-3 and a shade under 200 pounds, Phillips may seem too big to play shortstop, but he is becoming another Angels shortstop prospect who has power, defensive, and speed potential. The only problem with Phillips is that he has become another player whose path to Anaheim is blocked. The only way to move through a system as strong as Los Angeles' is to hit the ball well, and play good defense—something that Phillips is working hard to achieve.

His strikeouts have been a concern. He whiffed 154 times this season while drawing just 15 walks. Those kinds of numbers have to migrate closer for him to meet his lofty expectations. And it is something he is cognizant of.

"In batting practice I try to stay low on fastballs, and just work hard," Phillips said. "The Angels have been great. They are patient and treat you like a man."

Phillips' path to the major leagues may be blocked at the moment, but with his frame and hitting ability, he could slide over to second base, where he played in high school with first-round pick Chris Nelson, or use his athleticism in the outfield. Wherever he plays, P.J. Phillips is a name to remember as a future member of the L.A. Angels.

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