Zach Phillips Gets No Respect
I was tooling around NPB’s English language website, and I noticed that the Hiroshima Carp have not promoted Zach Phillips to their major league club despite starting the season with a 0.00 ERA in 14 appearances and 15 innings pitched, while allowing only five hits and striking out 25. Sure the Carp are currently in first place without Phillips and there’s a strict limit on the number of foreign players Japanese teams can have on their major league roster, but you find a place for someone pitching like Phillips.
This seems to be the story of Phillips’ professional career. He’s a former 23rd round draft pick who played for three MLB organizations, but his failure to make it as a U.S. major leaguer is a head-scratcher. After coming up with the Orioles in 2011 at age 24 and pitching in 10 games and eight innings with a 1.13 ERA, he got no significant opportunities in the majors in 2012 or 2013 despite pitching terrifically in AAA.
In 2012 and 2013, Phillips had a combined ERA of 2.79 pitching in 92 total games with a pitching line of 113 IP, 105 hits, four HRs, 46 walks and 119 Ks. While he pitched well in 2012, he was substantially better in 2013. For that kind of performance he got to pitch in only nine major league games over the two seasons.
The Marlins outrighted him off their major league roster last October, and Phillips elected to become free agent and then signed with the Carp. Now the Carp also seem slow to recognize what they likely got for a bargain price.
Phillips is 27 this season, so he’s not young anymore, but he isn’t old either. He’s also a left-hander, and it’s hard to understand why no major league team was sufficiently interested to sign him after the way he pitched in AAA ball the last two seasons.
Right now all of the foreign players on the Carp’s major league roster appear to be playing well, so who knows when Phillips will really get a chance to show what he can do against top competition. Sometimes it takes a little luck even if a player seems to have all the talent he needs.