TinCaps catcher Dane Phillips has a skill set that makes him valuable among prospects at his position.
It’s the same talent that got him to the Midwest League All-Star game today in Dayton.
I’m a catcher that hits in the middle of the lineup, said Phillips, who hit .265 with 17 RBI in the first half of Fort Wayne’s season. That’s who I am as a player, and that’s what’s gonna move me up the levels.
Catchers are traditionally defense-oriented, with any batting prowess an added plus. But in the past decade, good-hitting catchers including Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals have emerged.
Catchers who can hit are a hot commodity. And while Phillips has some work to do, he fits the bill.
I think it helps my chances a lot, he said. Really, just going up there and playing hard every day, if you give it all you got, I think you make it. So hopefully, I make it.
The 22-year-old has to improve defensively, but pitcher Joe Ross raves about his command of tempo and pitch selection behind the plate. Despite splitting time at the position with fellow catcher Rodney Daal, who is more of a defensive stalwart, Phillips has maintained consistent hitting numbers throughout the first half.
Manager Jose Valentin has put the catcher into the lineup as a designated hitter on multiple occasions.
Still, Phillips was surprised when he was selected to the Eastern Division team. I think it’s just a mix of things, he said. Offensively, I had pretty good numbers, and as a team I think it helps that we played well. The better team is going to get more all-stars. If we wouldn’t have won so many games, I wouldn’t have had near as good a shot of making it.
He will go to Dayton for the All-Star game alongside TinCaps teammates Ross, first baseman Luis Tejada and closer Roman Madrid.
Phillips, who is always quick to credit his teammates and coaches, will come on as a backup position player.
I’m just honored to get to the All-Star game. It should be a blast, he said. We have a lot of great players on this team and in this organization, and I’m very excited to play alongside some of my teammates.