Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Until recently, onetime St. Paul Saints shortstop Anthony Phillips had only tasted Triple-A level baseball for four games eight years ago when he was a 20-year-old in the Seattle farm system where the South African native started his professional career.
Picture: Phillips last played for the Saints in 2015.
The Colorado Rockies have moved the 28-year-old back and forth between AA and AAA this season, with the higher level seemingly to his liking the best. Phillips, who got a full year of seasoning with the Saints three years ago (.269-2-35 and only 11 errors in more than 90 games at shortstop), has just finished a productive four-game series for Albuquerque at Sacramento where he reached base in 10 of his 15 plate appearances with five hits and the same number of walks.
After an 0-for-4 but with two runs Wednesday, the 5-foot-9 Phillips is at .318 with a .434 on-base percentage for 14 games with the Isotopes with six doubles and two home runs among his 14 hits. He has driven in nine runs. He hit less (.250) with Double-A Hartford in six appearances although he homered three times.
‘Grateful’ Sioux City Grad on Nice Path at Age 24
Right-handed reliever Connor Overton, who had a banner season at Sioux City three years ago, has quite a baseball story to tell although he is only 24 and is working his way through the San Francisco Giants farm system.
Overton missed a college season at Old Dominion because of a shoulder injury, underwent Tommy John surgery four years later and has been released twice, but has a very upbeat attitude.
“Honestly, it takes the failures and extreme lows to finally succeed and appreciate the highs”, he told The Richmond Times-Dispatch, where he currently pitches for the Richmond Flying Squirrels of the Double-A Eastern League in the city where he was born. “I’m grateful that I went through what a lot of people haven’t experienced yet. I’ve gone through the wringer, and that’s helped me learn so much and helped me become what I am now.
“I feel like my career is starting now. Healthy. Figured some things out. Now, I’m good.”
Overton spent nearly three months with Sioux City before his contract was purchased by the Giants. He was a closer for the first time, saving 11 American Association games along with winning five of six decisions. The 1.96 ERA for 30 appearances got San Francisco’s attention, and he gave up only 21 hits in 36.2 innings, walking 12 and striking out 45.
He has pitched at three levels already this season (High A, Triple-A and Class AA), with a combined 2.30 ERA and one victory in eight bullpen appearances, the last two since joining Richmond about one week ago.
Mann ‘o Mann
How tough is this game? Brandon Mann finally made it to the major leagues after 16 seasons with 17 teams in 12 states and two nations, including 2015 with Fargo-Moorhead. He hurled five scoreless innings for Texas against Houston, Seattle and the Chicago White Sox over a seven-day period (two hits, two walks, one hit batsman and a strikeout).
What happened next? The Rangers optioned him back to Triple-A where he has whittled his earned run average for Round Rock to a minuscule 0.98.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com for books or Kindle readers, or for autographed copies at www.WirzandAssociates.com.