One of the Cincinnati Reds top prospects took on a different role during his latest outing. Connor Phillips, a Top 100 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, earned his first professional save for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday afternoon.
But before you go thinking that the Reds are looking to convert Phillips from a starter into a reliever, there's something you should know; the game was over after just six innings.
The Louisville Bats defeated the St. Paul Saints by a final of 8-6, but the game ended with just one out in bottom of the sixth inning due to weather.
Don't read too much into Connor Phillips relief appearance in Triple-A.
Connor Phillips has been one of the hottest names in the minor leagues this season, and with good reason. According to FanGraphs, Phillips is tied for the minor league lead in strikeouts along with New York Yankees prospect Drew Thorpe.
Phillips began his 2023 season at Double-A Chattanooga, but after dominating the competition, the right-hander was added to the Louisville Bats roster back in late-June. Phillips has now made eight appearances for the Bats and owns a 3.16 ERA in 31.1 innings of work.
But the reason that Phillips recorded a save on Sunday was due to the fact that Ben Lively was making a rehab start. After suffering a pectoral injury, Lively has been slowly working his back, and yesterday was the last step before what everyone assumes is a return to the Reds active roster.
Lively didn't fare too well, giving up six runs on six hits in less than one inning of work. Lively was replaced by Casey Legumina before the reins were handed over to Tejay Antone and then Connor Phillips. Those three combined for 4.2 innings of work while allowing just one hit and striking out eight.
There's an outside chance that Phillips will make his major league debut in 2023. After all, the Cincinnati Reds will be looking to add him to the 40-man roster during the offseason in order to protect the 22-year-old from the Rule 5 Draft.
But Phillips wasn't necessarily taking on the role of reliever in Sunday's game. He finished with 2.1 innings under his belt, and were it not for the fact that the game ended early due to bad weather, it's likely that another pitcher would have eventually replaced Phillips on the mound.
Look for the Cincinnati Reds to continue to develop Connor Phillips as a starter, not a high-leverage reliever. Sunday's outing was an outlier, not a sign of things to come.