The Orioles announced a number of roster moves on Friday, most notably the appointment of a veteran outfielder Brett Phillips for the assignment and selection of the contract of the prospective outfielder Kyle Stowers. Baltimore also remembered infielders Richie Martin and left Nick Vespi by Triple-A Norfolk, placed infielder Terrin Vavra on the paternity list and optional right-hander Logan Gillaspie to Norfolk.
Phillips, 28, was taken over by the Rays for cash on the morning of August 2, just hours before the close of trading. He was recently drafted by Tampa Bay following the Rays takeover Jose Siri. Phillips received just 17 plate appearances in his nearly three weeks with Baltimore, going 2-for-17 with two doubles, no walks and nine strikeouts (.118/.118/.235).
Despite the fact that Phillips is batting a dismal .147/.217/.249 on 225 plate appearances this season, there’s a good chance he’ll end up being claimed once the Orioles put him out (which the only course). Actions you need to take now that the order has been determined and the dealing deadline has expired). Phillips is considered one of the best gloves in the game – a carefree plus-speed defender who can confidently handle any of the three outfield slots, as evidenced by career grades of 39 saved defensive runs, an Ultimate Zone Rating of 25.3 and 31 Outs Above Average ( in just 2136 innings of outfield play).
Phillips has never offered a ton of value with the racquet, but he’s been significantly better in recent seasons than his 2022 numbers suggest. Beginning the 2022 season, Phillips was a .203/.291/.381 hitter with 23 home runs and 29 steals (34 attempts) in 675 plate appearances. Of course, that’s still well below the league average, but coupled with his top-notch outfield defense, that mix of power and speed still made him a valuable role-player.
Given the speed, defense and power, Phillips seems attractive on the waiver wire for teams that need outfield – especially with rosters that will soon expand from 26 to 28 players in September. Phillips is an ideal late-inning option for a postseason club because he’s an upgrade over at least one outfielder on every major team and poses a threat for a stolen base or maybe a pinch hit against a right arm in the right scenario.
Stowers, 24, was selected with the 71st overall pick in the 2019 draft. Since then, he has been praised by potential reviewers, mostly for his offensive work. Baseball America has ranked him as one of Baltimore’s top 30 prospects for each of the last three years. This year he has played 95 games in Triple-A, hit 19 homers and hit .264/.357/.527. That performance amounts to a wRC+ of 131, indicating he was 31% better on plate than the league average hitter. He also brought his strikeout rate down to 25.6% for the season, which is still above average but a significant improvement from last year’s 32.3% rate.
Stowers has already made his MLB debut, completing a brief two-game stint in Toronto earlier this year when some of his teammates were unable to make the trip due to their unvaccinated status. Because he was designated a COVID “surrogate” for that series, the O’s were able to delist him without subjecting him to waivers. He’s now earned a roster spot in a more traditional way and expects to get a more inclusive look this time around.
Stowers has made 44 appearances at midfield this year, along with 38 at right and 13 at left. He will jump into an outfield mix that also includes Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and Ryan McKennaalthough Santander has since been given plenty of time as a designated batsman Trey Mancini act.
The Orioles broke out of their rebuild this season and are hanging around in the American League’s postseason picture, currently just 2 1/2 games behind. Stowers will have the final six-plus weeks of the season to try and help them in that race and secure a place in the future squad for a club whose future looks increasingly bright.