During the summer of 2011, Phillips was invited to the Perfect Game Showcase in Fort Myers where over 120 pro scouts watched the top baseball prospects from around the country. One of Phillips’ highlights was the ball from right field to third base at a speed of 96 mph.
SEMINOLE – For Seminole baseball standout Brett Phillips, the future remains unwritten as the sport paves a path toward either college or potentially the major leagues.
Donning the No. 8 jersey and playing center field, Phillips, a senior, has been a major contributor for the Warhawks this season with a .420 batting average, a .740 slugging percentage, 21 runs and 11 RBIs. He is part of the core outfield that has helped Seminole maintain the top spot in the Class 7A-District 10 standings.
But long before he became a fast center fielder, Phillips was trying to find a sport that fit his niche. He received push and guidance from both his parents, Jodi and Brett James, to try T-ball at Seminole Youth Athletic Association at age 5. When he started playing, he wasn’t the best fielder or hitter, but he could definitely run fast and put the ball into play.
“I would like to think in my head that I was the short kid but with the biggest ego on the field,” said Phillips jokingly. “But a lot of people told me and my parents that I had potential so that drove me to keep playing.”
Eventually he moved his way into playing in Little League and playing in Junior and Senior leagues. In addition to playing baseball, he played soccer, football and even hockey. According to Phillips, even though he had a passion for those games, he said baseball came as the easiest sport to learn and pick up.
“My goal was to win at every other sport that I played,” he said. “It might have been easy for me but it doesn’t mean I was good at it. I just had to realize that I had the talent to play.”
His Little League career soon got competitive when he received a call from Randy Kotchman to join his AAU travel team, the Little Smokers. AAU played a pivotal role throughout elementary and middle school when Rick Stegbauer asked Phillips to try out for a team he was putting together called the Tampa Bay Blue Devils. During those formative years, Stegbauer became one of the coaches that would mold Phillips as a ballplayer.
“Coach Rick has been the best coach that I have ever played for,” said Phillips. “He helped me to not just grow as a baseball player, but into the guy I am now. Parts of my character definitely came from him and he definitely helped shape my life by pushing me to give 110 percent every time I played.”
By the time he got to high school, he was ready to tryout for the Warhawks’ baseball team. As a freshman and a bit diminutive at 5-foot, 6-inches tall, Phillips knew that his starting time on the field would be limited, but just the feeling of making the team was worth it.
“Seminole is definitely known from its baseball program,” he said. “As a freshman to make the team you should take pride in knowing that you are not only a player when you make the team, but know everyone is watching you as you carry yourself during practices and games.”
When his sophomore year came around, he grew to 6 feet and began to hit the weight room to try and improve his strength. He finally began to be noticed during the 2010 Steve Georgiadis Memorial Baseball Tournament when he was starting every game in center field and had his first homerun ever in high school.
A year later, everything began to change for him. Colleges began coming to games and talked to him about his future and how baseball would be there. During that time, he got offers from Mississippi State, Boston College and the University of Florida, before settling on North Carolina State in early November.
“I take academics seriously,” Phillips said. “I have a 3.2 GPA and I carry out my business in the classroom. To play baseball in college is big and that was a milestone for me and committing to a college was a hard decision. But if anyone has that opportunity, take full pride in that experience cause its awesome.”
During the summer of 2011, Phillips was invited to the Perfect Game Showcase in Fort Myers where over 120 pro scouts watched the top baseball prospects in the country. One of Phillips’ highlights featured him throwing the ball from right field to third base at a speed of 96 mph. According to Phillips, it definitely raised some eyebrows.
Although he is signed with N.C. State, a possible future in the major leagues has not been ruled out. Throughout the current season, over 40 scouts from 28 of the 30 major league teams have come to practices and games to see him hit and field.
“At first it was nerve racking,” Phillips said. “I mean, imagine four or five teams just standing there and watching you take batting practice and then you have to shake their hands and they tell you what teams they are from. I just make the best out of it now cause at that moment its my time to shine.”
Phillips saw major changes within his senior year. He played varsity football as a linebacker and running back. Also with new Head Coach Jeffery Pincus and being awarded a co-captain position with Jordan Doyle, he had to be a team leader and keep the team close-knit and work well together.
“This team is a family. We always preach it,” he said. “To be strong off the field makes a strong team on the field. In past years, there has been a great amount of selfishness where one person is trying to carry the team. This year it’s the entire team trying to win a game and not single anyone out.”
Pincus said Phillips is a unique individual. He carries himself in a way that both motivates the team.
“He has brought everything you would expect from a senior leader,” said Pincus. He is just an all-around great young man who is always laughing and enjoying life. He has evolved as he has grown into his role and to see the metamorphosis of him into what he has become over the past four years has just been extraordinary.”
After winning the 21st annual Steve Georgiadis Memorial Baseball Tournament, Seminole continues toward its goal of winning the district championship. Their next home game is against East Lake on Friday, April 13.