Two Things Blocking Promotion for Phillips

When the roster for Lansing was released in late March, it featured plenty of names that the fans of the Lugnuts were familiar with. Perhaps the biggest surprise to have to see return to Lansing was Paul Phillips. Although the numbers show Phillips should be at a higher level, his manager provides two reasons he's not.

In 40 1/3 innings of work last year, Phillips attained a 2.01 ERA with a team leading 14 saves. Throw in the fact that he also saw time in Dunedin and New Hampshire last year and you would think that Phillips would be disappointed. Although he acknowledges that you want to start at the highest possible level, it is a matter of available roster spots.

"Our organization has a good problem in that we have a lot of great pitchers and there is not a whole lot of movement," stated Phillps. "There are great pitchers that are in Dunedin that should probably be in New Hampshire, there are great pitchers in New Hampshire that should probably be in Syracuse and so on".

When players repeat a level, there are things that need to be worked on and Phillips acknowledges that that is also the case for him.

"I need to get better at location. I can throw strikes, but I need to throw quality strikes. That is something that Dane Johnson (Minor League Pitching Coordinator) harps on. He wants us to throw quality pitches."

Command and throwing quality pitches has not been a problem so far for Phillips this season. In 20 1/3 innings he has issued just four walks, while fanning twenty-five batters. With those numbers, it would appear that Phillips is well on his way to a promotion to Dunedin, but Lansing manager Gary Cathcart would like to see Paul improve in two other areas of the game before he moves on. Those two areas would be focus and preparation.

"I'm sure that he knows that he needs to work on his focus and his preparation every day so that when we call on him, he is ready to pitch," Cathcart said. "He's got too much stuff to be pitching at this level. It's more the mental part of it than the physical pitching part of it."

Preparation is something that has been constantly talked about with Phillips and the entire Lansing team this season by their new manager.

"I tell my players all the time that the games are like a test and if they prepare, they should do very well on the test," stated Cathcart after recently.

The entire team in Lansing so far must be working in one big study group preparing for their tests. The Lugnuts have been on a scorching hot start and have gotten off to a franchise best 13-2 that included a ten game winning streak. Phillips has been a huge part of the start coming out of the pen to shut the door when called upon.

"It's always good to get off to a good start. You're not going to win every game even though you try," Phillips stated after the Lugnuts franchise record win streak was snapped at ten games last month.

With the hot start in Lansing, it is only a matter of time before guys get off the Lansing Express and are challenged at the next level with Dunedin. Even though no time table has been set, one would think that Paul Phillips would be on one of the first trains leaving the station south to Dunedin. Until that time however, Phillips will continue to close in Lansing.

"He's going to be the closer. We want him to know that and we want him to be prepared to take the ball in those situations," stated his manager. "Once we feel like he has established himself here and we feel that he is consistent, then just like every other player, we will send him to another level." "He's not far away. If he gets moved up, he'll be okay".

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