It all began about two years ago for Tyler Phillips, pitching “really a nothing game” at Diamond Nation he said.
But looking back on that time, it very well may have been his first professional audition.
“Sure enough, a Rangers scout was there,” said Phillips, a Bishop Eustace Prep senior. “I didn’t know who he was. I just thought he was a dad.
“The next day, I saw him in Dick’s Sporting Goods and he introduced himself. I was really excited to have the opportunity to speak with him. He told me I could be the real deal with baseball.”
A 6-foot-5 right-hander, Phillips will take a major step this weekend toward realizing his dream of playing professionally.
At the request of the Rangers, Phillips is scheduled to fly to Texas on Friday night and throw a bullpen session Saturday morning in front of some of the organization’s top people. He’ll throw at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the stadium of the team’s Double-A affiliate in Frisco.
The 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft begins Monday night.
“They are only doing this with 10 kids from around the country, so for him to be one of 10 kids they are seriously thinking about speaks highly of their interest,” Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said. “We’ll see where this takes him. He’s one of those kids who lives in the moment.”
Phillips went 9-0 with a 1.02 ERA this spring, striking out 65 batters in 62 innings. He picked up a handful of key victories, beating rival Gloucester Catholic two times — the first coming in the second round of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic and again in the semifinals of the Non-Public A South playoffs.
“I’m very excited,” Phillips said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to be a major league baseball player. I just want to follow my dream.”
A Lumberton resident, Phillips said the Rangers are the only team to have made a home visit. He’s been in contact with 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams, including the Phillies.
While the draft is an inexact science, Phillips is projected to go anywhere between the fifth and tenth rounds. He was recently named to Baseball America’s Top 500 draft eligible players, coming in at No. 428 and the No. 3 prospect in the state.
“They know what I can do,” Phillips said. “It’s just a chance to meet all of the people involved with the Rangers and have them see me.
“My mom let me know about it and it went deep into me. In my head, it was like ‘Wow.’ I didn’t think this could actually happen to me, but I guess all of the hard work paid off. This means a lot.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com