In the Mariners’ deep and talented pitching pipeline, one of the most electric young arms is 20-year-old righthander Connor Phillips.
The 2020 second-rounder features a dynamic one-two punch with a 94-96 mph riding fastball and a mid-80s hard-breaking slider.
“When you talk about engines and operations and just high octane, that’s Connor,” Mariners farm director Emanuel Sifuentes said. “He is a ton of fun to watch.
“Everything about Connor is unique and different. He moves faster than most guys, and it’s in a very efficient manner. The stuff is absolutely electric.”
That electric stuff was what drew the Mariners to Phillips, who was the top junior college pick in the 2020 draft. The Texas native was a 35th-round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school and initially committed to Louisiana State, but he switched to from McLennan (Texas) JC to become draft-eligible again after his freshman season.
“We had some TrackMan info out of junior college that really lit up our systems from a pitch quality standpoint and a pitch action standpoint,” Sifuentes said.
For Phillips, the key will be finding more consistency in his control and command.
“It’s really just about harnessing that engine (and) getting into the zone a little bit more,” Sifuentes said.
Phillips posted a 4.62 ERA in his pro debut last season. He made 16 starts for Low-A Modesto and one with High-A Everett.
Phillips averaged 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings and had five starts with at least nine punchouts, including a 13-strikeout outing and a 12-strikeout outing. But he also averaged 5.4 walks per nine.
“There were a lot of outings where Connor went out and really dominated the game,” Sifuentes said. “And there were some outings where he went out and struggled with his command a little bit as well.
“He was a junior college kid and kind of out in that environment for the first time . . . and learned a lot through his ups and downs. And I think he really matured as well. (We’re) incredibly excited to see what he does in 2022.”
— Two Mariners minor leaguer pitchers were suspended following positive tests for performance-enhancing substances. Bernie Martinez, a 25-year-old righthander who pitched primarily for High-A Everett last season, was suspended for 80 games. Luiz Baez, a 21-year-old righthander who pitched in the Arizona Complex League last year, was suspended for 60 games.