Scouting Yankee Prospect #31: Andy Phillips

Out of anyone in the Yankee Minor League System, it is Andy Phillips who is perhaps the most Major League ready offensive player. There aren't many doubts that he has a Major League bat and he is a potentially dangerous right handed hitter. It's these reasons that he's our Yankee's prospect #31.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Andy Phillips
Position: 1b/2b/3b
DOB: April 6, 1977
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: Demopolis, Alabama

Here is the player that is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most major league ready in the Yankee Farm System. He now has nothing left to prove after having a monstrous season with AAA Columbus in 2004. Phillips also came up to the big leagues and made an impression by crushing the first pitch he ever saw in his career over the Green Monster in Fenway Park. But, will the Yankees give him a chance? It remains to be seen. Perhaps they will keep him as a reserve infielder for next season. He isn't getting any younger so, considering the numbers he put up, it is about time the Yankees gave him a chance. In combined duties with Trenton and Columbus, Phillips clubbed 30 home runs and batted .318 with Columbus. Phillips was an absolute monster run producer as well, driving in 101 runs split between Trenton and Columbus. The bottom line is the guy rakes and he only struck out 60 times in Columbus as well. It is hard to tell what the Yankees plan to do with him, but he has proven everything he can in the minor leagues on offense. Now, all he needs is a position. And, with the Yankees sudden first base dilemma, Phillips may be presented with a golden opportunity in 2005.

"Andy Phillips is the best hitter I've seen," says a teammate of Andy Phillips, David Shepard. It actually seems like a lot of people have been answering that question in the same way when asked who is the best hitter they've seen. Dioner Navarro, David Shepard and Colter Bean all answered the same way. "Andy Phillips. That was easy," says Bean. With all this praise, one would think Andy Phillips would be in the show already as a regular. However, one injury set him back farther than anyone could imagine. After having a huge 2002 season, Andy Phillips was a high flying prospect coming into the 2003 season. It was even thought that, by the end of the season, the 2002 Yankee's Minor League Player of the year would have a chance of joining the big club. But, the Alabama native suffered a serious setback. He was limited to just 17 games in 2003 and he simply just wasn't himself. The power hitting prospect attempted to play through injury but only managed to bat an uncharacteristic .209 with 2 home runs. Eventually, he had to shut it down and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bone spur in his right elbow.

Despite a serious setback in 2003, Phillips came back strong in 2004 and re-established himself as a prospect. He is slightly older than the average prospect but his 2003 injury has a lot to do with that. With a big spring training in 2005, there is no reason that Andy Phillips shouldn't be part of the Yankees Opening Day 25 man roster.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2004

Columbus

.318

434

19

26

85

83

2

51

60

.388

.569

2004

Trenton

.357

42

2

4

16

8

3

3

1

.383

.738

2003

Columbus

.209

67

4

2

5

7

0

5

17

.264

.358

2002

Columbus

.263

205

11

9

36

32

0

10

46

.296

.459

2002

Norwich

.305

272

24

19

51

58

4

33

56

.381

.618

2001

Norwich

.268

183

9

6

25

23

1

21

54

-

.437

2001

Tampa

.302

288

17

11

50

43

3

25

55

-

.503

2000

Norwich

.250

28

2

0

3

5

1

3

11

-

.393

2000

Tampa

.287

478

33

13

58

66

2

46

98

-

.446

1999

Staten Island

.322

233

11

7

48

35

3

37

40

-

.519


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. If you want a big ticket for a player, it has always been the bat for Andy Phillips. There is no doubt in anyone's mind now that Andy Phillips can, flat out, hit. After a monstrous 2004 season in AAA Columbus and a thunderous Major League debut, people have started to take notice of his hitting ability. From the right hand side of the plate, he has pretty big power and can take you deep to any part of the park. Phillips has a matured, well filled out body that looks like it was made for hitting. But, besides the fact that Phillips looks like a .300 hitter in the making, he also does not strike out a whole lot. For a power hitter, Andy has a fairly short stroke and he makes a lot of contact. Phillips looks like he could be a blue collar Major League player that can be a productive Major League hitter. And, if not for injury setbacks in 2003, he may have been an even more highly thought of offensive prospect.

Base Running and Speed. To put it simply, Andy Phillips isn't exactly blazing around the bases. He is never going to be much of a stolen base threat, either. However, one should not consider Phillips to be a liability on the bases either. He is an intelligent ballplayer and that does not end on the base paths. Getting good jumps is important for him and with more experience, his base running has become less and less of a weakness. Andy has about average speed, overall.

Defense. Andy Phillips began his career playing a lot of second base and third base. He stuck at second base for a while, but as he became much more of a power hitter, a corner infield position seemed to suit him better. Phillips still has the ability to play second and third base but he is much better off at first base. The bottom line is he just isn't quite quick enough to play second or third on an everyday basis. Andy has good hands, but is still in the process of learning the first base position. The more he plays there, the better he is going to get. He has proven to be an adaptable player and would fit neatly into the first base position. But, his bat is still what is going to carry him through his career.

Projection. Right now, it looks like Andy Phillips should be able to hold a position on the Yankee bench in 2005. It would be ludicrous to send him back to AAA, where he would simply continue to dominate the league. If the Yankees don't dip into the free agent market for someone like Tino Martinez, Phillips could slide in as the backup first baseman. However, the future could hold bigger things for the 27 year old. On a lower tier team, Phillips could be given a starting role and develop into a very good everyday Major League player.

Comparison. Kevin Millar. The Red Sox first baseman got a late start to his career as it appears that Phillips will. Both of them are carried by their bats but hold their own over at first base. Phillips has been compared to Millar on numerous occasions for their hitting ability but minus the wild personality of Millar.

ETA. 2005. The time is now for Andy Phillips. The Yankees have to give him a chance sometime and they are looking for a backup first baseman. If they have no other solid options, Andy Phillips could end be being their man.

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