Saints Bring Back Best Defensive Shortstop In Franchise History, Re-Sign Anthony PhillipsST. PAUL, MN December 7, 2015
SAINTS BRING BACK BEST DEFENSIVE SHORTSTOP IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, ANTHONY PHILLIPS
ST. PAUL, MN (December 7, 2015) – He made the miraculous look routine. His range knew no bounds. Playing one of the most demanding positions on the field Anthony Phillips had the best fielding season of any shortstop in Saints history and the second best in American Association history. On top of all that he was solid offensively and will once again anchor the defense up the middle as the Saints re-signed the South African native.
The 25-year-old Phillips committed just 11 errors in 454 chances, a .976 fielding percentage, topping Kansas City’s Vladimir Frias, .973, as the only two shortstops with a .970 fielding percentage or better in 2015. Phillips led the American Association in total chances and assists (307). He finished just shy of the shortstop league fielding percentage record held by Ryan Khoury in 2014, who also had a .976 fielding percentage. Phillips’ actual percentage was .97577, while Khoury was at .97609, but the league rounds the number to three decimal places and both will be in the record books with a .976 fielding percentage. Only nine times has a shortstop had a .970 fielding percentage or better since 2009, three of them are Saints (Steve Mays, .970, in 2010 and Joey Becker, .971, in 2014).
Offensively, Phillips hit a solid .269 with two home runs and 35 RBI in 91 games. In 323 at bats he scored 45 runs, smacked 11 doubles, three triples, a .316 on base percentage and .341 slugging percentage. Phillips also finished tied for third in the league in sacrifice hits with 11. He hit the lone grand slam for the Saints on July 18 at Sioux Falls. He also put together a 10-game hitting streak from July 15-24. On July 4 Phillips and Dan Kaczrowski became the first duo to hit back-to-back home runs at CHS Field.
“Anthony is an excellent shortstop,” said Saints manager George Tsamis. “He is so smooth out there. He makes the routine plays, he makes the tough plays. We are happy to have him back with us as you won't find many guys out there as good as him.”
Phillips was acquired on May 1, 2015 right before spring training, from the New Jersey Jackals for a player to be named later. He is an interesting story signing as a free agent when he was just 16-years-old out of South Africa by the Seattle Mariners.
Phillip spent from 2007-2013 with the Mariners organization and one of his best seasons came in 2013 at High-A High Desert where he hit .259 with a career high nine homers and 43 RBI.
In 2014 he played at three different levels in the Philadelphia Phillies organization: Single-A Lakewood, High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Between the three stops he hit .230 with two home runs and 24 RBI.
The 2015 season was the third time Phillips has led a league in fielding percentage. In 2010 he led the Northwest League with a .979 fielding percentage and in 2012 he led the Midwest League with a .976 fielding percentage.
In 2008 and 2009 Phillips represented his country of South Africa in Olympic qualifying and the World Baseball Classic, respectively. His father, Phillip, was the oldest man ever on an Olympic Baseball roster when he played for South Africa at the age of 44 in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Phillips joins catcher Vinny DiFazio and outfielder Willie Argo as the three players re-signed this off-season.