By Jeff Uveino @realjuveino
It is every college baseball player’s goal to get drafted by a major league team. However, only about 10% of NCAA players nationally accomplish this, most of them coming from large schools in the south.
In the 9th round of the 2017 MLB draft, the San Francisco Giants made St. Bonaventure’s Aaron Phillips one of these select few.
A key part of the Bonnies for the past three seasons, Phillips excelled as an elite two-way player. A leader both on the mound and at the plate, Phillips was named a finalist for the John Olerud National Two-Way Player of the Year.
However, it is Phillips’ arm that got the Giants’ attention.
Posting a 3.04 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 2017, he was named Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year, and drafted higher than any other player in St. Bonaventure history.
Phillips discussed the hectic nature of draft day.
“You have no idea what’s going on,” he said. “The ninth round comes, my agent calls me like three picks before the Giants and says okay they’re thinking about here. And literally three picks later, it was in a minute all that happened, I get the call and the phone blows up.”
From this point forward — it’s survival of the fittest.
“You hear about the grind; guys embrace that,” Phillips said. “The guys that have a bad attitude about it are the ones who don’t do as well, whereas the guys who embrace it and make the most of it are the ones who have the most success.”
He also spoke about the new challenges that have come with playing at the next level, especially being on the West Coast.
Phillips spent the summer playing in the Northwest League for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants Low-A affiliate.
“The time difference was tough,” he said. “You get to talk to your family early in the morning and then that’s basically it, because when you show up to the field, you go to work, and then after the game its 1-1:30 a.m. here.”
In 14 appearances with the Volcanoes, Phillips was 3-0 with a 4.45 ERA, and struck out 36 batters in just 28 1/3 innings.
Phillips will look to build on that success in the upcoming winter, and move up in the Giants system during the 2018 season.
“I want to get bigger and stronger and start throwing a little bit harder,” he said.
He hopes that staying in good shape over the winter will translate into a good spring training, which is essential for prospects who are looking to move up in the system.
“This is my first spring training so it’s the first time a lot of the upper guys in the organization will get a chance to see me,” he said.
Phillips commented that being placed on a full-season team for the summer would be ideal, instead of having to continue training until the short season leagues of Low-A begin play in mid-June.
“I’m hoping to be on a full season team so I don’t have to stay in Arizona where its 120 degrees,” he said.
Phillips has the potential to be one of the most successful ballplayers to ever come out of St. Bonaventure. It will be interesting to see where his talents can take him in the Giants system, and being a home-grown kid from the Buffalo area, he’ll have plenty of fans in Western New York rooting for him.