Reds surprisingly reassign struggling top prospect in hopes of rectifying disastrous season

Reds pitching prospect Connor Phillips is falling apart in 2024.

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Coming into the year, the Cincinnati Reds front office had high expectations for righty Connor Phillips. Despite struggling in his MLB debut in 2023, Phillips pitched well at both Double-A and Triple-A last year and was ranked as the Reds' 5th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline in March.

Unfortunately for Phillips, 2024 has been a disaster. In 57 innings across 14 starts at Triple-A Louisville, the righty has pitched to a 10.11 ERA with the worst strikeout and walk rates of his career.

Among International League starters with at least 50 innings pitched, Phillips is last in both ERA and FIP, second to last in walk rate and HR/9, and has the worst batting average against by almost 30 percentage points.

Watching him pitch, the mechanics look off. He's completely lost the zone and when he does find it, batters are lighting him up. It's a total worst-case scenario and the Reds have been forced to make a roster move to address it.

Reds prospect Connor Phillips reassigned to Arizona Complex League after miserable start

Derek Johnson, the Reds' Director of Pitching, told reporters that they've been working with the young righty trying to find consistency in Phillips' routines, and have been searching for ways to fine tune the mechanics in hopes of fixing the problem.

Thus far, those efforts have failed. On Tuesday, it was reported that the Reds have reassigned Phillips to the Arizona Complex League in an effort to let him hit the reset button on this season.

The Complex League is a rookie-level league, typically reserved for newly-drafted players and younger international prospects. In Arizona, Phillips will surely be tasked with a complete evaluation of both his delivery and his mental state while on the mound.

With any luck, this trip to the Complex League will allow Phillips to get away from the intense pressure of the International League and find a way to get back on track.

How long will Reds prospect Connor Phillips remain in the Arizona Complex League?

Phillips has the prospect pedigree to get a pretty significant amount of leeway in order to rectify the issues at hand. For now, we can assume that Phillips will get as much time as he needs down in Arizona to get back into a rhythm.

The sooner he can do so, the better off the Reds will be. The rotation has been iffy all year but with lefty Nick Lodolo heading back to the IL thanks to a blister on his throwing hand, the Reds could use a reliable starter now more than ever.

Unfortunately that won't be Phillips, at least not this time around. However, if he can work through this rough stretch quickly, he might get the opportunity to pitch in Cincinnati before the end of the year.

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