With the three-day Major League Baseball draft beginning Sunday at 6 p.m. CST, Arkansas pitching signee Cole Phillips’ future is about to get much clearer.
The 19-year-old Boerne, Texas, right hander, who had Tommy John surgery 14 weeks ago, will be waiting to see how high he goes and how much he is offered.
Phillips (6-3, 200), ranked as the 62nd-best draft prospect by ESPN.com and 66th by MLB.com, will use those facts to determined whether he is pitching college baseball in Fayetteville next season or in the minor leagues.
“It definitely is an exciting time for me and there’s been a lot going on this week,” Phillips said. “I have two great options before me and I am very grateful about it. I’ll just see how it plays itself out and do what is best for my future.”
Phillips, whose age means he would be draft eligible again after his sophomore collegiate season, acknowledges the developmental process at Arkansas could make him a better prospect down the line.
“I’m not a guy that is set on going to pro ball so we are definitely holding ourselves to the (dollar) number that we set and definitely won’t take anything less,” Phillips said. “We know the value of going go Arkansas.”
The Athletic’s Keith Law, who has Phillips ranked as the 63rd-best prospect, sized up the prospect.
“He’s 6-foot-3 with a good frame and a starter’s delivery, although he might find more command if he stays over the rubber longer and syncs his arm up better with his lower half,” Law wrote.
“He had a chance to go in the first round prior to the injury. I think he goes in the second or third at this point, although he has a great fallback option in Arkansas and could be a first-rounder in 2024, because he’ll be 21 that May.”
Phillips committed to Baylor as a sophomore, but then reopened his recruitment before his senior season and pledged to Arkansas last September over Texas A&M, LSU, Texas and others last September.
“The Arkansas program is always at the top year in and year out,” Phillips said. “I also love the people there. I have gone on a lot of visits to SEC schools and other colleges and Arkansas just really stood out to me as the full package.
“The coaches at Arkansas were super cool, the fan base amazing and so everything just kind of went into it.”
Phillips and others draftees will only have until mid-August to sign with the clubs that select them.
“Either way my decision will be coming pretty quick and it will be on to the real world,” Phillips said. “‘I’ll either be heading up to Fayetteville or somewhere else to start my pro career.”
Phillips, whose fastball was clocked at 100 miles an hour before surgery, would likely have been a first-round pick if not for the injury.
“I am three months out of surgery now and I feel great,” Phillips said. “Everything is going good, the rehab has been good. All the teams have requested medical reports and we have been happy to send them over and get that out of the way.
“It’s been a kind of a long process, but it’s all good.”
Phillips was 9-1 as a junior with a 0.88 ERA, 96 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings.
He was also a star at the plate as a junior while hitting .389 with 28 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, a homer, 10 doubles, 5 triples and 21 runs scored.
“My season was going really well,” Phillips told BVMsports.com right after the injury. “My body was healthy, and I was performing well. I was pitching a perfect game and I go out there in the third inning, and it happened in one pitch.
“I knew something was severely wrong; I had never felt anything like that. I kind of had an idea of what happened.”
Despite knowing he was hurt, Phillips stayed in the game and got the batter to strike out on three straight sliders.
“I was just devastated knowing my senior season was ending,” Phillips said. “And I was done playing with these guys that I had to play with for the past six, seven years. That’s the part that hit me the most.”
Photo courtesy of Cole Phillips