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Astros prospects: Brett Phillips 2014 break out

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A look at what Brett Phillips has done to constitute the increased attention he's been receiving lately.

Timothy De Block

Brett Phillips had a pretty good year this season and is starting to get noticed by prospectors and film makers.

Film makers?

Yes, film makers. Check out this video by AOL Sports, Brett Phillips: Batter Up.

The five minute documentary is very well done and highlights Phillips' early years in baseball, minor league life, his hitting philosophy, his play on the field and more. Do yourself a favor and take six minutes to watch the short documentary.

What did Phillips actually do this season to constitute the attention?

Well the biggest thing he's seems to have done is hit for more power.

Last season he posted an isolated power (ISO) below .100. For context: a .140 ISO is average at the major league level. This past season he had a .219 ISO which is well above average at the major league level. For those who prefer slugging percentage (SLG): he posted a .331 SLG in 2013; and a .529 SLG in 2014. However you prefer to evaluate a player, there is no doubt that Phillips has taken a big step forward in the power department.

How is Phillips hitting for more power?

For starters, he's played more this season. Prior to this season, Phillips had only 376 plate appearances in his first two professional seasons. This year he came to the plate 571 times. But plate appearances aren't the only reason why he's hitting for more power. He's also making adjustments as a hitter.

The last time I reviewed video of Phillips swing I noticed that he wasn't getting very much hip rotation in his swing. In the video above and other video I've seen this season he's been getting better hip rotation, which helps him generate better power. He's also been lauded as an above average runner and has the ability to turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples with his legs. Overall, he simply seems to be maturing as a hitter by making better decisions at what to swing and what not to swing at.

The other factor to note is that Phillips played this season in environments that work in his favor. I think most people are familiar with Lancaster's high altitude environment. If you're not, watch this video:

Phillips played 27 games in Lancaster. The other 103 games were played in Quad Cities which has a short right field porch, 318 feet. Certainly, favorable conditions for a left-handed batter such as Phillips. Still, the favorable conditions shouldn't take away from the fact that Phillips has been maturing as a hitter and is making the necessary adjustments to generate more power.

Looking Ahead

It's likely that Phillips starts the year as a JetHawk at High Class-A in Lancaster. The Astros front office tends to promote guys at the end of the year to the level they're expected to start at the next year. For Phillips that's Lancaster and hopefully, if he builds on this years success, a promotion to Class-AA Corpus Christi at some point next year. We'll have to wait until he reaches Class-AA to get a better gauge on his power, but this past season he's shown that he can make the necessary adjustments to get a little more love on prospect boards and more face time on the tubes.