Hall of Fame Inductee Spotlight
Date: Dec 14, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – A week after the league saw its 148th alumnus make his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut, yet another former New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) player has earned his call-up, as Evan Phillips (UNC Wilmington), who pitched for the then-Laconia Muskrats (now Winnipesaukee Muskrats) during the summer of 2013, debuted with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night in the Bronx.
The former UNC Wilmington standout entered the game in relief and was cruising through 1-1/3 innings without allowing a hit while striking out one against one of the MLB’s most potent offenses. He ultimately got his first true taste of being an MLB pitcher when Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer off the righty, but one could argue that was worth the price of admission for completing his three-year journey from the minors to the Big Leagues.
Phillips, who logged eight games (seven starts) with the Muskrats in 2013 as a rising sophomore, finished with 31 strikeouts in 36 innings that summer. Originally drafted in 2012 by the Kansas City Royals, Phillips would eventually strike out 53 over 51-1/3 innings as a junior, which led to his being drafted again by the Braves in the 17th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
He would then quickly rise up the organization’s minor league system over the next three years, making adjustments along the way that led to his stock rising quicker than originally anticipated. Despite entering the 2018 season with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers with a career 4.11 ERA, he has been in the midst of his best year yet as a reliever, entering the week with a 2.09 ERA with the Stripers with 58 strikeouts over 38-2/3 innings and a WHIP of 1.06.
Those undeniable numbers led to his call-up on Tuesday, becoming the fifth NECBL veteran to make his MLB debut this spring, joining Brett Graves (Newport ’13), John Andreoli (Pittsfield ’09), Eric Lauer (Keene ’14) and Michael Gerber (Ocean State ’13).
The NECBL now has seen 149 alumni to reach the Big Leagues, and the five ex-NECBLers are among 34 alumni to have reached the Majors at some point in 2018.
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is a wooden bat college summer league that fields teams in all six New England states. Partially funded by Major League Baseball, the NECBL started play in 1994 and is enjoying its 25th-year anniversary season this summer. The New England League has sent nearly 150 alumni to the Major Leagues and has had nearly 100 alumni drafted in each of the last 10 Major League Baseball Drafts. For continuing coverage of the NECBL, visit NECBL.com and follow the league on Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook.