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Prospect Phillips collects first hit, assist

Outfielder started against the Giants with family looking on
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Brett Phillips, the Brewers' outfield prospect with the big laugh, logged his first hit, his first outfield assist and his first error in his Major League debut Monday after Milwaukee placed third baseman Travis Shaw on the paternity list. Phillips' stay at Miller Park may be temporary, and his uniform number may be, too.

The 23-year-old, ranked 10th on MLBPipeline.com's list of the top Brewers prospects, wore No. 33 in a 7-2 loss to the Giants to begin his first stint in the Majors. But he said he hopes to someday switch to No. 35, fulfilling a promise he made to the family of boyhood friend Nate Richardson, who died in a car crash during Phillips' freshman year of high school in Florida.

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MILWAUKEE -- Brett Phillips, the Brewers' outfield prospect with the big laugh, logged his first hit, his first outfield assist and his first error in his Major League debut Monday after Milwaukee placed third baseman Travis Shaw on the paternity list. Phillips' stay at Miller Park may be temporary, and his uniform number may be, too.

The 23-year-old, ranked 10th on MLBPipeline.com's list of the top Brewers prospects, wore No. 33 in a 7-2 loss to the Giants to begin his first stint in the Majors. But he said he hopes to someday switch to No. 35, fulfilling a promise he made to the family of boyhood friend Nate Richardson, who died in a car crash during Phillips' freshman year of high school in Florida.

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For now, No. 35 belongs to Triple-A left-hander Brent Suter, who has flipped back and forth between the Minors and Majors this season.

Video: Brewers prospect Phillips on wanting to wear No. 35

"If we're up here at the same time in the future, maybe I can buy him dinner for the number," Phillips said. "I had played baseball with [Richardson] growing up, and I told his parents my senior year that if I made it to the big leagues, I wanted to wear No. 35 so when they saw No. 35 out in the outfield, they saw their son as well. They even asked me yesterday because I called them to tell them I was going to the big leagues. I told them not yet, but hopefully in the near future."

Phillips' future was cloudy, as "he's only going to be here for a couple days, most likely," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. But that did not take the shine off of Monday, when Phillips batted eighth and played center field as Counsell stacked as many left-handed bats as possible against Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija. 

Phillips struck out in his first two at-bats, but made his presence felt in the third inning when he flashed his throwing arm, fielding Denard Span's single in the left-center-field gap and firing a strike to second base for the first out of a scoreless inning. 

In the eighth, Phillips scored his first big league hit. He bounced an 0-2 fastball from Samardzija up the middle for a single.

Phillips showed off his arm in his debut

And in the ninth, Phillips logged a first he was less excited about. He called off right fielder Domingo Santana as both men converged on Eduardo Nunez's fly ball in right center field, but they got too close, and the baseball glanced off Phillips' glove for an error that contributed to a three-run Giants rally. Phillips was probably too aggressive in calling for that particular fly ball, Counsell said. 

"I can't honestly say I got settled in the whole game," Phillips said. "It's so exciting to be here debuting, but I'm kind of happy it's over. Tomorrow, we can get settled in and get back to a routine." 

When he reached his locker, the Brewers already had the baseball from Phillips' first hit in a commemorative case. He presented it to his mother, Jody Phillips-Foushee, in the tunnel outside the clubhouse, where Phillips' father, Brett, and stepfather, David Foushee were waiting with cousins and other extended family and Phillips' agent, Tom O'Connell. 

"Honestly, just to get this whole day over with is a relief," Phillips said. "I'm excited to get some sleep tonight. I didn't sleep last night." 

Phillips played horse against Randy Savage

Phillips earned the nod by slashing .297/.369/.589 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs for Triple-A Colorado Springs, a significant uptick from what was a disappointing 2016 at the Double-A level. Scouts have marveled at his arm in center field, which he complements with above-average defense and speed.

A sixth-round pick by the Astros in 2012, Phillips was acquired in '15 in the trade that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Houston. Phillips is the third of four prospects from that trade to make it to Milwaukee, leaving only left-hander Josh Hader awaiting his debut.

Tweet from @AdamMcCalvy: Brett Phillips got word of his call-up in time for stepfather David, mom Jody and dad Brett to get to Miller Park. pic.twitter.com/nlah348odz

"To [Phillips'] credit, he's gone out and played well," said Counsell. "He would tell you he's got a lot of room for growth in his game, and there's places that he could continue to get better. But he's having a good season right now, and this is a little reward for that."

Video: Brewers prospect Brett Phillips on being called up

Arriving at Miller Park for the first time Monday was "kind of like a dream," Phillips said.

He had company. His father, mother and stepfather were all on the field for batting practice, and the elder Brett Phillips was wearing a Brewers jersey, which his son had given him last year.

The number on the back was 35.

"He's not going to disappoint," dad said. 

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

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