Astros name Brett Phillips Minor League Player of the Year; lose Triple-A affiliate


Brett Phillips (Photo by Sean Flynn)

It’s been a busy week for the Houston Astros farm system. The organization’s Class A (Adv.) affiliate, the Lancaster JetHawks, won the California League championship on Monday and the Triple-A affiliate, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, was sold to the Los Angeles Dodgers this morning.

Also earlier today, the team announced their Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year: Josh Hader and Brett Phillips. I wouldn’t call either selection a surprise because both prospects had terrific seasons. For more on Hader, be sure to check out Greg’s post from this morning.

As for Phillips, the 20-year-old outfielder was spectacular for the Class-A Quad Cities River Bandits and promoted on August 4th to the champion JetHawks. The Astros drafted the speedy Phillips, who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, out of Seminole HS (FL) in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB draft. Here are his minor league numbers from this season:

"Lancaster: .339/.421/.560 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, eight doubles, two triples, 37 hits, 14 walks, 19 runs scored, five stolen bases, and 20 strikeouts in 27 games (109 at-bats)."

"Quad Cities: .302/.362/.521 with 13 home runs, 58 RBIs, 21 doubles, 12 triples, 116 hits, 36 walks, 68 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, and 76 strikeouts in 103 games (384 at-bats)."

That puts Phillips at a .310 batting average in 130 combined minor league games with 29 doubles, 14 triples, 23 stolen bases, a .529 slugging percentage, and a .905 OPS. He played a key role in Lancaster’s championship run as he went 3 for 4 with three runs scored in Monday’s series-clinching Game 5 victory. Phillips was also the youngest starter of the Western Division team in the Midwest League All-Star Game this year.

As for the situation with the RedHawks, The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Colorado Springs and Fresno are two distinct possibilities to be the new Astros affiliate. The San Francisco Giants are leaving the Fresno Grizzlies after the Los Angeles Dodgers left behind Albuquerque, who announced a partnership with the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.

Since the Astros are expected to pair with the Round Rock Express for the 2019 season,  it will be difficult to find a Class AAA franchise willing to agree on a short-term contract. Round Rock is owned in part by the family of Astros executives, Nolan and Reid Ryan, but has a PDC with the Rangers through 2018.

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Hopefully, this situation doesn’t drag out and gets resolved relatively quickly. The Astros have done a terrific job loading their farm systems with terrific talent and certainly don’t need anymore off-field distractions this season. In the end, it won’t really matter what the short-term solution is for the Astros, but they will need to find one that can carry them to 2019.