Editors Note: I am not just the Editor of the Crawfish Boxes but a teacher at Magnolia West High School, where I taught Connor Phillips AP US History and US Government. He has graduated before granting this interview, and on Thursday he will pitch in the fifth, semi-final (elite eight) round of the Texas High School State Championship Series. Connor is currently ranked as the #9 High School Prospect by Premier Baseball Futures 2019.
Perhaps the biggest surprise among all the teams still competing for the Texas High School Baseball Championship is Magnolia West High. Not even projected before the season to win their own district, they have progressed due to strong fundamentals, a consistent lineup, and a tough one-two starting pitching tandem of Robert Revels and Connor Phillips.
Connor’s performance in the playoffs has raised some eyebrows among scouts. Entering the season with a low-nineties fastball, Phillips flashed ninety four during the season, but during the playoffs has hit a new gear, hitting ninety seven with his four-seam in the game against Tomball High. He combines that with a two-seam, a slider, a curve, and a change.
Magnolia West has won eight games to advance to this fifth round of the playoffs. Connor has won four of those games and allowed only one run in the course of those victories. He will face his greatest test this Thursday against top rated Georgetown High.
Connor has the physique of a projectable Major League pitcher, 6’2”, 185 lbs. One question I asked him was about his workout routine, which he said he follows throughout the year, and includes, weight training, long distance running, long toss and weighted ball toss and isometric exercises. He does this about three or four hours everyday. He does not do bullpen sessions between starts during the season.
When asked about what he needs to do to accomplish success at the next level he admitted that his already strenuous work ethic would probably need to reach a new level. When asked if he felt deterred by the long shot odds that any young man faces in the hopes of achieving success in the Big Leagues, he said, “Baseball is what I want to do with my life... I am going to make it, it’s just a matter of when.”
Like so many young pitchers, the biggest problem that Phillips needs to overcome is command of the secondary pitches. His coach, Justin Faltysek, says when he has slider command he is untouchable, but it is inconsistent, as well as the curve. Connor himself wants to improve his change up command. But with his experience and mentality of throwing multiple pitches, if he can learn to command them, and with 97 MPH in his back pocket as a young 18 year old, he seems on track as a starting pitcher.
Another area of improvement according to Faltysek is changes in the delivery, which if altered slightly, could increase the degree of deception of the batters.
It is difficult to project where he will be drafted, but his recent performances have caused those estimates to rise of late. A couple more scoreless games against the best competition in Texas could see that stock rise even higher. Phillips is already committed to LSU, and 5th to 7th round is the number most often associated with the likely draft position for Phillips as of now.
Magnolia West goes into the game with nationally ranked Georgetown undefeated, whereas pre-season favorite Georgetown enters into this double elimination tournament with one loss. If Magnolia West beats Georgetown they will advance to the State Championship Final Four, and if they win it will be one of the great Cinderella stories in High School sports.
Go Mag West Mustangs.
Go Connor Phillips.