On Tuesday night the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners completed their trade from earlier this spring by naming right-handed pitching prospect Connor Phillips as the player to be named later in the deal that involved Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez heading to the Pacific Northwest.

Connor Phillips was the Mariners 2nd round draft pick in the 2020 draft. With the minor league season cancelled he didn’t get a chance to pitch that year after making just four starts at a junior college as a freshman. He went 64th overall to Seattle, but was rated 95th in the draft by Baseball America.

When the 2021 season began the Mariners sent the 20-year-old to Low-A Modesto in what used to be the California League (and is once again the California League). He would spend nearly the entire season there, too. He was skipped over a few times in the rotation from mid-June through the first week of July before he returned to the rotation.

After a few tough starts in July when he returned, Connor Phillips went on a strong run to end the season…. with one lone exception. In five of those starts he combined to threw 25.0 innings where he allowed just nine hits, two earned runs, had nine walks, and he struck out 47 batters. He was absolutely dominant over those five games. But there was a game in the middle of that run where he was very bad, too. He allowed eight earned runs in just 2.0 innings as he gave up six hits and walked five without recording a single strikeout.

You can see where a team could view the upside for Connor Phillips as very high. When he’s on, he’s really on. But he’s been off quite a bit in his one year on the mound as a professional, too. Consistency has been an issue for him. Control has been rather hit or miss – in 2021 he walked four or five batters in seven of his 17 starts. But he also had two other outings where he walked as many batters as he had innings in the start, they just came in very short starts.

The consistency isn’t the only negative on his resume, though. While he’s been a starting pitcher in high school, junior college, and his first year as a professional, there’s a lot of bullpen risk that’s not just related to the inconsistency with his control. Phillips has a poor third offering in his change up that he will need to improve if he’s going to remain as a starting pitcher long term.

The flip side to that, though, is that he’s got two potential plus offerings with his fastball and his breaking ball. The fastball works in the 93-96 MPH range and has touched 98. And it’s got good movement to it, too. His breaking ball is a sweeping slider that some may classify as a slurve that works in the mid-80’s. Seattle’s farm director Emanuel Sifuentes told Baseball America earlier this month that the organization had some TrackMan information from his time at McLennan Community College that “really lit up our systems from a pitch quality standpoint and a pitch action standpoint”.

Cincinnati seems to have acquired a bit of a high-risk/high-reward player in Connor Phillips. He’s got a lot of upside, featuring two plus pitches at the age of 20. But he’s also got a low ceiling as a guy who goes through some real bouts of control issues. With the deal now complete, Phillips wasn’t the headliner in the trade – that would have to be Brandon Williamson at this point – but he’s a quality addition to the deal that does make things look a little better for Cincinnati. With that said, Christopher Crawford probably put it best when talking about the trade:

21 Responses

  1. Barryh

    Doug, let me be the first to ask. Where would you slot Phillips in your top 25. 16 to 20 range?

  2. RedsGettingBetter

    I had understood the Reds had 2 months to decide their PTBNL selection from a list being a enough time for scouting and make a pretty good choice, but it took just 2 weeks to do it. Was Phillips really the best player available? rather, it seems to me that the Reds had an interest in this player even before that.
    Phillips is another pitcher with a lot of work to do as Chase Petty too, so the pitching staff should be on it very hard.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m one million percent sure that the Reds thought he was the best choice among players on the agreed upon list.

  3. Colorado Red

    Overall, this is a really good trade for the Reds.
    They did not get less by adding in Suarez, but got more.
    We have picked up a lot of high upside guys this off season.
    Hopefully a few will pan out.

  4. Matt

    I like it. The Reds have a lot of pitchers on the brink already in Greene, Lodolo, Williamson, Sanmartin, Ashcraft, Gutierrez. Adding down the road talent is a good idea. With the bats coming up (as Doug previewed yesterday in his predictions for where top 25 will start), it’s a solid plan to pair some arms with them.

  5. SultanofSwaff

    Like Petty, at first glance Phillips looks like a bullpen piece to me and that’s no slight–we know the kind of money even mediocre relievers get nowadays so to pick up two potential high leverage guys in a consistent area of need is a plus. His slider has great action to match a fastball with late life.

    I had no issue with the trade before, now I think the Reds won it easily.

  6. Alex Reds

    Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith sat down recently to discuss, via The Wheelhouse Podcast, some of the team’s offseason moves. One of which was, of course, the trade with the Cincinnati Reds that sent Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez to the Emerald City.

    During the podcast, Dipoto called the PTBNL later a “painful” loss.

    • LDS

      As I said earlier – politics/marketing. To say anything else would be to call the PTBNL a scrub and imply that the Reds were stooges – an assessment that’s likely closer to the truth.

  7. JaxDan

    With all of the recent trades I do not understand why they did not trade for any outfielders who would ML ready by 2024. What outfield prospects will begin the year in either AAA or AA? I did not see any projected in the top 25 list.

    • Greenfield Red

      For 2024 they have Allen, Cerda, Hendrick, Almonte, Confidan, and Valdez to name a few that will be ready or close to ready for the majors. They also have a bunch of high end middle infielders, some of whom can become high end outfielders.

      They need to continue to add a high volume of high upside young guys to the system. That’s the blueprint they should follow for sustained success. Trading for major league ready talent in the last rebuild, along with waiting to long to trade guys torpedoed any chance of that rebuild being successful.

      This kid is a solid pickup. You can never have too much pitching.

    • Tom

      Good point. They did fill in the rotation for the future though. OF 1b and catcher are future needs. Perhaps a solid bat falls to them in the draft and maybe their comp pick can yield a high upside HS OF

  8. kevinz

    Throw as many darts at Pitching as you can.
    Plenty coming soon to the show.
    But more thin coming up the pipeline.

  9. MK

    With 5 starters and at least 8 relievers on a 26 man roster, picking up prospects that project as quality bullpen pieces doesn’t seem like a terrible thing. In fact due to 2021’s terrible bullpen might be a smart move.

  10. Alpha

    Not looking forward to what Krall May get for Mahle or Castillo, based on the fact that Dunn was a key piece of this deal and that they hid his injury from the fans well after it was culminated tells me he’s a poor gambler. Regardless of what they said about Mahle and Castillo, they are not part of the team’s future, Castellini isn’t committed to long term deals any longer. Someone needs to contact Frank Cohen who bought the Nipperts share and ask him to put a group together to buy out Castellini. The business of baseball is no different than any other business, if you are not committed, get out.


      Dunn wasn’t the key piece. He was the throw in.

  11. Brad

    How do Phillips and Bonnin compare? Seem like similar profiles. Good idea to continue to develop as Starters for now with high leverage bullpen always a possibility. With depth in Reds Minor Leagues pitching, Im okay if other guys like Greene, Lodolo, Williamson, Ashcraft (same high leverage reliver possibility), and others man the rotation and push quality arms to the bullpen.

    Keep drafting offense early and quantity of pitching late.

    Very surprised Reds picked up Minor when some rookies have chance to be as good and wayyyy cheaper. Also surprised Castillo is still on this roster. Angles could offer up Marsh, Detmers and Bachman. Reds get a starting OF, SP and future SP/RP.

  12. NotGoodBob

    Hi all, I’ll ask this here…
    How many years until the Reds have a top half of the league scoring offense?

    I’m not sure it’s feasible before 2025..

    22 & 23 – The next 2 years we have Votto (who I love) and Moose taking up 40-45MM. They will not be able to add more proven bats via FA. There are no impact bats (55 Hit tool) guys in the top of the minors. Barrero maybe WRC 105+ by the end of 23.
    24 – Votto and Moose roll off the books. Any money saved will need to be spent to replace Votto’s production. I can squint in see a DeLa Cruz being ready to start his career, Barrero improving.
    25 – Hopefully add Allen; 80% probability curve De La Cruz ready to soar. India and Stephenson getting expensive but hitting their Arb 2 peaks. Barrero WRC+ 115ish?

    Anyone want to talk me off the Offense Ledge?

    • Doug Gray

      Get off the ledge. Baseball isn’t that important.

      There’s plenty of *potential* in the lineup. There’s legit big upside offensively with Stephenson, India, Senzel, Barrero, and even that Votto fella for this year. Odds that it works out well for all of them? Probably not good. But it’s there. Moustakas isn’t a bad hitter, he’s just probably not an above-average one at this point in his career.