Bandits' lone teenager out to prove he belongs

Originally Posted Online: April 13, 2014, 7:57 pm
Last Updated: April 13, 2014, 8:03 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

DAVENPORT -- The youngster on a Quad Cities River Bandits roster filled with experience brings the appropriate perspective from outfielder Brett Phillips, who views his full-season assignment as an opportunity.

Being the lone teenager in the clubhouse certainly has its benefits.

Standing six weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Phillips is embracing this moment after understanding this is the perfect chance to expedite his development and learn from his veteran peers. Aiding in the process is Phillips being realistic about this destination, not naive.

"Starting out with a full-season club is amazing, but you know there are always good people coming in behind you," Phillips said. "You have to perform. The only way from here is up. I'm just trying to do my best to perform and play."

Now in his second full season with the organization, the 2012 sixth-round selection understands his age can no longer be a hindrance. The Astros sent him to the Midwest League because he has potential and promise.

Bandits manager Omar Lopez sees his speed, power and a strong outfield arm as his attributes. The key for this season is harnessing all that and further developing it.

"It will be a good thing for him to be around older guys," Lopez said. "He's here because he's capable of competing in this level. It's going to be big for him being around those guys because they're going to help him."

In a brief stay with the Bandits last summer, the Seminole, Fla., native had nine hits in 39 at-bats with four runs, three RBIs and two doubles. Phillips completed the season at rookie-level Greeneville, finishing with a .247 batting average in 29 games.

Phillips' career batting average -- including stops in the Gulf Coast, Appalachian and Midwest leagues -- entering the season stood at .247.

"He will be a very good player once he gets a little more mature and when he understands how to be under control and how to make adjustments in the game," Lopez said.

Although the first two weeks is a small sample size, it does offer some encouragement. Phillips has 10 hits in his first 30 at-bats while starting all eight games entering Sunday. Saying this season was about "growing and maturing as a baseball player and person," he has taken the immediate steps to accomplish both.

The key is consistency.

He knows what he has done through eight games needs to happen for 140. Being surrounded with players who will push him at a level that will challenge him can help establish a constant performance.

"I know what my full capability is to play with these guys," Phillips said. "Even though they're a little older, they're great players and are going to make me better."

Houston sees his tools, which is why it sent the teenager to a full-season club.

"This is going to be a big benefit," Lopez said. "He's a good one to follow."

Considering the age, there is a lot to like. Phillips is ready to prove his game is beyond that number.

"I'm thankful," Phillips said. "I'm fully prepared to play at this level."

River Bandits extra bases

Bandits this week: vs. West Michigan (Today-Wednesday); vs. South Bend (Thursday-Saturday)
Bandits news and notes: Bandits manager Omar Lopez said the club had speed when it broke camp, something the team has utilized through the first two weeks of the season. Entering Sunday's doubleheader at Great Lakes, the Bandits have 12 stolen bases in eight games. QC has attempted 14 stolen bases, a success rate of 85.7 percent. ... The first of two Sunday days off will be next week because of Easter. The second one is May 11. Both times, the Bandits play a home game before and a road contest after it. ... More than 600 runners and walkers competed in the second-annual Bandits Race to Home 5K and Fun Run on Saturday morning, helping raise more than $13,000 toward the Bandit Scholars Program.
QC alumni: Stephen Piscotty, an outfielder for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, is batting .364 so far this season. The fast-rising St. Louis Cardinals prospect has 12 hits in his first 33 at-bats with three doubles and eight RBIs. Piscotty played in 55 games for the Quad Cities River Bandits two years ago, batting .295 in 210 at-bats.
FYI: For the first time in his career, Tyson Blaser has reached the Triple-A level with the New York Yankess. The 2006 Rockridge graduate and catcher was called up to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in the International League. Blaser, who started the season at Double-A Trenton, said the transaction was made on Friday. He was returned to Trenton on Sunday.
Around the Midwest League: The Peoria Chiefs belted four home runs during their 11-8 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods at Dozer Park on Saturday. ... Three months after their park was damaged by a fire, the West Michigan Whitecaps opened the rebuilt facility with a 3-2 win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Wednesday. Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, site of this summer's Midwest League All-Star Game, had part of its suites and concourse damaged by a fire in early January.


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2014. There are 102 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Recruits can get $500 by enlisting now. Lt Jobe has a recruiting office on Illinois Street.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Superintendent Schnitger formally inaugurated the Rock Island and Davenport Railway Line of the Holmes system by putting on four cars to start.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Wires of the defunct Union Electric Co. are being removed by city electricians.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The Bishop Hill softball team won the championship in WHB"S Mississippi Valley tournament at Douglas Park.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A boom in apartment construction has hit Rock Island, with approximately 300 units either in or near the construction stage or due for an early rezoning decision.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Members of the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission are hoping to revive their push for a new $70 million four-lane bridge spanning the Mississippi River.

(More History)