The Rangers have designated right-hander Tyler Phillips for assignment, the club announced. The move opens up a 40-man roster spot for top prospect Sam Huff, who has been activated from the 60-day injured list and been optioned to Double-A Frisco.
Huff underwent knee surgery back in April, and it seems quite possible that without that injury, he might already be back in the majors. Huff has yet to play at Triple-A ball and he has only 14 plate appearances at the Double-A level, but the Rangers thought enough of his performance at their alternate training site last season that they promoted Huff to the big leagues in September. From there, Huff hit three home runs and posted a 1.136 OPS over 33 PA, providing a tantalizing glimpse into his potential as a slugging cornerstone of a future Rangers lineup.
It remains to be seen if Huff will get any time at catcher, as he has played exclusively as a first baseman this season. It could be that Texas is just easing Huff back into things in the wake of his knee surgery, and he’ll eventually get some action behind the plate before the year is out. Assuming Huff continues to rake at Double-A and then at Triple-A, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him receive another September call-up before the year is out, as the Rangers could then be eyeing him as a candidate for more regular big-league duty for 2022.
A 16th-round pick for Texas in the 2015 draft, Phillips posted solid numbers in the lower levels of the farm system but began to hit some struggles in Double-A, and his Triple-A debut this season has been even more problematic. Phillips has a 9.90 ERA over 10 Triple-A frames, with more walks (12) than strikeouts (11). These control issues are a troubling new development for Phillips, as limiting walks was a strength for the right-hander over his first five pro seasons.