Stealing Second with Astros Prospect Brett Phillips (with/interview)


Brett Phillips (Photo by Sean Flynn)

After getting Astros first base prospect Conrad Gregor to follow me on Twitter for an online interview, I wanted to get the Astros fans more involved by giving me questions for the interview. I threw out the question on Twitter if anyone had any questions for Conrad Gregor. Seconds later I get a response, “How’d he get to be such of a stud on and off the field?”

Who wrote that Tweet? One of the Astros top prospects that I have kept up with since I started writing for Climbing Tal’s Hill, Brett Phillips. To continue the gag, I responded to his Tweet by thanking the number one Astros fan for his question. At that point it occurred to me, I have written about Phillips, but I haven’t had the pleasure of interviewing him online.

I gathered the nerve to direct message him, and asked if he would be willing to do an interview online interview with me. His response fills me with excitement; “yes, but only if you throw in some funny questions, and not just serious ones.”

The questions did not get sent to Phillips until 11:30 pm the following night. Less than 30 minutes later, I get a chime letting me know that I received an email. It was from Phillips, who had typed out his answers on his phone. Let’s help you get to know Brett Phillips through this interview.

Phillips on his Offseason

Phillips said that he “took a month off after the 2014 season, before really getting after it in the weight room. I’ve also implemented yoga into my daily routine, to get as flexible as I can, to prevent tightness injuries.” More and more athletes are using yoga to try to prevent injuries these days, so he wouldn’t get picked on as much as he would have ten years ago. In fact, it appears other Astros prospects are also doing yoga with him.

Video of Phillips Opossum Chase (scroll down)

Last year before Brett Phillips walked up to the plate during a streak where he had hit four home runs in four game, when an opossum ran in front of him onto the field. Right after that, he hit his fifth home run, and gave the opossum credit for the home run. I asked if he was practicing his opossum lassoing this offseason. “Of course I’ve practiced my technique of wrangling opossums! You never know when they’re going to come out of the dugout when you’re on deck.”

“PS thank you opossum, I couldn’t have hit the fifth without your guest appearance.”-Phillips.

He earlier had made a joke about “the opossum is still using my locker as his home. It’s the least I could do for him after giving me 5 in 5!” I asked Phillips how it feels like to hit five home runs in five games, he said “I honestly couldn’t tell you where that came from, and it sure didn’t seem real. It’s always a great feeling going up to the plate with a lot of confidence, and during those five days I sure was seeing the ball well! PS thank you opossum, I couldn’t have hit the fifth without your guest appearance.”

What’s in Store in 2015 for Phillips?

Will Astros fans hear “Buzzin” by the Mann prior to a Houston Astros player going up to bat? “I actually have had the same walkout song since high school. I like it and so do the fans, so I’m going to stick with it throughout my career!”

While Phillips is not sure where he will start the 2015 season, he has heard people say he would stay at High-A Lancaster. As for what his goals are for 2015, he said he will “strive to be the best that I can be day in and day out on and off the field. That’s all that matters to me.”

I asked Philips if he is worried about whether there will be an opening when he is ready to join the Astros. “No worries whatsoever, as long as I am playing baseball, whether it’s in the minors or majors! I’m getting paid to do what I love, and everything else will play itself out with that mindset.”

“No worries whatsoever, as long as I am playing baseball, whether it’s in the minors or majors!”-Phillips.

Does Brett Phillips have a particular minor league player that he’s played with or against, that has really impressed him so far in the minors?” The whole Houston Astros farm system impresses me, because each and every one of these guys can play at such a high level of baseball!”

Brett Phillips Self-Scouting Report

Brett Phillips was recently labeled the #1 sleeper prospect for 2015 by MLB Pipeline. What does that mean for Brett? “I’ve never been the one to look to prospect list to let me know how good I am. I’m staying course and working hard to become the best that I can be. Being the #1 sleeper prospect is great and all but it doesn’t mean much to me and my development.”

After talking to Phillips and Preston Tucker, I’m starting to realize that most baseball players don’t really pay much attention to where they are ranked. This information is only relevant to bloggers (and reporters), General Managers, and baseball fans. I asked Preston Tucker if he pays attention to top prospect list, and he said, “I’ve seen it, but don’t pay much attention to it because it really has no effect on my career. Being a top prospect might help your popularity some, but production is much more important.”

I told Phillips that he was compared to a young Andrew McCutchen by Baseball Prospectus, and he seemed shocked. “Wow… If I become half the player as Andrew McCutchen then I would have no complaints. The dude is a Stud!”

“Wow… If I become half the player as Andrew McCutchen then I would have no complaints, the dude is a Stud!”-Phillips.

I mentioned to Phillips that he has been referred to as a ‘toolsy’ player. I asked if he agreed with that labeling of him. “I think that means that I have all the tools. Five I think there are. Phillips head screw driver, a flat head screw driver, a hammer, a drill, and a crow bar! Believe it or not, I keep them all in my back pocket, hence the nickname ‘toolsy’!”

“I had a down year on stealing bases in my opinion, because even though I had 23, I was thrown out a lot.”-Phillips.

Well that’s not exactly what they meant, but he knows that. One of his baseball tools that he does not keep in his back pocket is his speed. Scouting reports say that Phillips is an average runner, but I asked him how that could be when he had 23 stolen bases in 2014. “I had a down year on stealing bases in my opinion, because even though I had 23, I was thrown out a lot. I’m still practicing on getting better jumps and becoming a better base stealer!”

Get to know Brett Phillips

Three things to know about Brett Phillips;

  1. He wants to start going by his middle name “Maverick”
  2. His favorite band is Fleetwood Mac
  3. “Maverick” has been told that his laugh is funnier than the joke itself!

What regular jobs has Maverick had before he got paid to play the game he loved? Was it Chick-Fil-A, because he always has a smile on his face? “That’s funny you say Chick Fil-A. I eat there on an average four to six days a week. But I’ve worked at Winn Dixie before and… wait for it… as a pizza delivery man ha-ha that was a great job!” 

Is there a particular MLB hitter that Phillips emulated as a kid to lead to who he is as a player? “I didn’t really follow baseball that much as a kid. I enjoyed all sports but I wasn’t a big fan to a certain player. Now my favorite player is Mike Trout and I try to mimic my game off of his. Key word in that sentence was try!” It’s understandable that you like Mike Trout, but when you make your debut, please don’t drool too much when he comes up to the plate and get distracted Brett! Trout is the enemy you used to worship.

Maverick Phillips is a self-proclaimed class clown who likes to have fun, but only in the right situations. His teammates say that he brings excitement and enthusiasm each day to the ball park. Knowing that the Astros already have a player on the roster bursting with energy, in George Springer. I asked if manager A. J. Hinch will lose his hair with Springer and Phillips in the same dugout, Phillips’ response was, “I’ll be sure he has great hair products to keep his hair there!”

On George Springer’s home run dance moves, I asked if he could beat Springer in a dance contest. Philips said watch out, because “I’d take George Springer any day in a dance off. I’ve already beat Andy Simunic and Kike Hernandez, so consider this your call out Springer!” Springer, the challenge has been thrown. You need to replace Jonathan Villar as dance partner and learn some more moves.

Who is Phillips Current Dugout Dancing Buddy?

Lance McCullers is my BFF, he’s been there since day one from the draft, and we share the same hobbies and dreams. Whenever one of us is struggling we pick each other up and get each other back on track. That’s what a best friend is all about and to be going through the minors together is awesome.”

Of all the prospects, which one would look best in a dress during rookie initiation when they reach the big leagues? “Lance McCullers no doubt, the dude can pull off anything he puts on. Only superstars can do that!” So McCullers has something to look forward to when he makes his debut with the Astros: trying to find shoes to match his dress during rookie dress up day.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Most Embarrassing Moment on the baseball field so Far?

“No doubt pimping what I thought was a home run off Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals during my first year of rookie ball that ended up hitting off the wall. I almost got thrown out at second. I ended up getting taken out of the game and I was pretty embarrassed. “

Even the best players have that moment. Look at how many mental mistakes Dodgers star Yasiel Puig has had in his young career. Everything I read about Brett “Maverick” Phillips tells me he will be a great player when his time comes.

Phillips was hanging with Vincent Velasquez the night that he answered my questions, and he mentioned that Velasquez was reporting to big league camp in a couple of days. I told him that he will be there next year, he told me “I appreciate your prediction, I won’t let you down.”

At the time of writing, Vincent Velasquez tweeted that he survived an intense yoga session, and lasted for the entire time. I asked Phillips if he was trying to convince every minor leaguer that yoga is the way to go. His response was, “Ha-Ha, you know it!”

Thanks for your time Maverick, and best of luck to you in the future! Want more Phillips? We have discussed doing a monthly Phillips update during the season. He liked the idea, and said it would be action packed!

Next: Brett Phillips: Prospect Profile