Phillips' powerful arm gets an 'upgrade'

Phillips' powerful arm gets an 'upgrade'

PITTSBURGH -- Sometimes you get what you ask for.

MLBPipeline.com bumped 23-year-old Brewers outfielder Brett Phillips to an "80-grade" arm last week, making him the only prospect with that top rating on the 20-80 scouting scale, after he recorded the strongest throw recorded by Statcast™ all season in a win over the Pirates at Miller Park. Phillips' 104-mph dart to home plate completed a double play while surpassing his own record for the previous season high in MLB -- 102.6 mph on July 17, also against the Pirates. His 104-mph throw was the second hardest by an outfielder since 2015, when Statcast™ started gathering such data.

When MLBPipeline shared a news story about Phillips' arm, he re-Tweeted it while saying, "I think I can do better... how hard would I have to throw it next time to be given an 80-grade arm on the 20-80 scale!?"

The Tweet was mostly in jest, as Phillips was already graded a 70 arm.

But the prospect gurus took note and decided Phillips was due a raise. One of them, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, stopped by the Brewers' clubhouse at PNC Park on Monday to ensure Phillips was aware of the change.

"I've known [Mayo] for a long time, so me tweeting that out, I knew they wouldn't take offense to it," Phillips said. "For me, I was honestly curious: What is considered an 80 arm? How hard would I have to throw for it to be an 80 arm? I know accuracy and all that comes into play.

"So, yeah, he got a kick out of it. He told me they had a 20-minute meeting. I feel honored that they deemed me as an 80 arm, but it was more as a joke than me actually lobbying for it. It's all for fun."

Phillips has played his way into more regular appearances of late, including a start in center field for Monday's series opener against the Pirates at spacious PNC Park.

"Look, the statement that Brett has made and why he's getting playing time is that he's impacting the game -- defensively, especially -- when he's played," manager Craig Counsell said. "In the outfield, that usually means runs. You're usually taking runs off the board when you're impacting games in the outfield. To me it's important. He's done a nice job of it."

Phillips did it again on Monday, securing the final out of the 3-0 win over the Pirates, fielding a Gregory Polanco single and throwing "only" 89.5 mph to second base in time for a game-ending out that was confirmed upon replay review. It was Phillips' third outfield assist during his brief tenure.

Phillips cuts down Polanco

"Unreal," said Brewers closer Corey Knebel, who earned the save. "Phillips, that guy has been unbelievable. It's good to have him back there."

Last call

Domingo Santana was out of the lineup on Monday, when Hernan Perez started in right field. Was Santana still feeling the effects of a minor muscle strain in his upper back and neck, or was it merely a matter of matchups?

"We're giving him a game here, and I think that's good for him still with some of the stuff. But it's also matchup-related. It's a little bit of both," Counsell said. "He'll be in there [on Tuesday], I will tell you that. We're trying to adjust every day and still keep in mind that we have two weeks left of high-intensity games."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.