MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Scouting report: Brett Phillips

Scouting report: Brett Phillips

Background
The Houston Astros deserve credit for identifying, scouting and signing a tremendous crop of prospects to add depth and competition to their organization.

Yes, some of their better prospects were among the first selections in MLB Drafts. However, Brett Phillips of Seminole (Fla.) High School was a fourth-round pick in 2012. He is moving right along in the organization, and he has a chance to be a solid Major League outfielder.

Phillips had a .351 batting average at Seminole, covering 84 games over three seasons.

Phillips is making tremendous strides as a five-tool player. I scouted him during the recent Carolina-California Class A Advanced All-Star Game in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Since Phillips' appearance as an All-Star playing for Lancaster in the California League, he has been promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi in the Texas League. As he did in Rancho Cucamonga, Phillips is also hitting well at Corpus Christi.

Hitting
The left-handed-batting, right-handed-throwing Phillips is a solid hitter for average with the ability to guide the barrel of the bat and drive the ball. In parts of four seasons in the Astros' Minor League system, Phillips has an outstanding .296 batting average.

Phillips' slight uppercut swing looks rather compact and effortless. He doesn't leave his comfort zone to try to power the ball over the fence. In the at-bats I saw, Phillips was patient and had a good knowledge of the strike zone. His approach was natural and far from forced. Phillips looked very much at ease at the plate.

Phillips has always had a good on-base percentage, making him an excellent candidate for a top-of-the-order position. He makes things happen.

Defense
At 6-foot, 175 pounds, Phillips has a prototypical center fielder's build. He plays outstanding defense, with quick and correct reads of the ball off the bat, good range and speed to chase down balls hit to all directions. Phillips is truly a "captain of the outfield." His arm strength is well above-average, making him capable of playing right field. However, I believe Phillips' skills fit best as the outfield general taking charge in center.

Strengths
Phillips has a deep skill set, but I believe his arm strength and speed are his most advanced and best tools. I don't think baserunners will try to take an extra base on him. Phillips' arm is very strong and accurate.

Phillips' first step is extremely quick, and he knows the proper time to turn on the jets and make his legs work for him. Ultimately, he should be able to steal bases.

Phillips should hit for average, with quick hands and a good eye at the plate. His hitting is a tad above average and good enough for him to be an everyday player. If Phillips retains his current smooth hitting mechanics, the ball will find the holes. He should have few, if any, prolonged hitting slumps.

At the present time, Phillips' power is emerging. Although he can get his body and strength behind the right pitch, some may classify him more as a line-drive hitter who finds the gaps. That might be a mistake. I think there is some home run power in Phillips' upper body and strength in his wrists and arms. He could be a candidate to hit close to 20 home runs per season from the top of the batting order.

Weaknesses
Phillips has to learn the technique of stealing bases and use his speed more to his advantage. That will come with experience and repetition. Pitchers have to be very careful with him on base.

I find this interesting
Phillips was remarkably consistent at Seminole High School, hitting .355 as a sophomore, .345 as a junior and .354 as a senior.

The future for Phillips
Moving along nicely in the organization, Phillips has the tools to be a quality defensive center fielder with good enough offense to be a regular in the lineup.

Phillips in a word
Balance

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.