After ascending from Class A to the big leagues in three seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, Kyle Phillips was the odd man out for the 51s this year.
Eager for playing time, the 26-year-old requested a trade and was granted one by the Blue Jays, who dealt him to his hometown San Diego Padres on June 26.
Assigned to Triple-A Portland, Phillips has thrived, batting .362 (54-for-149) with three homers and 28 RBIs in 47 games for the Beavers.
“It was just about getting me the opportunity I felt I deserved,” Phillips said Monday before going 0-for-5 from the cleanup spot in Portland’s 8-5 win over Las Vegas at Cashman Field.
“(The 51s) were gracious enough to trade me to a different team in Portland, where I’ve made the most of my opportunity,” he said. “For me, it couldn’t be a better situation. I was born and raised (in San Diego), so it would be an absolute joy to put on a Padres uniform and set foot on a major league diamond in my hometown.”
A 10th-round draft pick of the Twins in 2002, the 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound Phillips was released by Minnesota after the 2005 season and was let go by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006.
His career was reborn in the Blue Jays system, batting .306 at both Single-A Dunedin in 2007 and Double-A New Hampshire in 2008 before hitting .300 for Las Vegas last year.
Phillips made his major league debut with Toronto in September and batted .278 (5-for-18) with three doubles and two RBIs in five games.
But he was buried on the 51s bench this season and hit .258 with eight RBIs in 19 games for Las Vegas.
“I had some pretty good years with Toronto but they wanted to go in a different direction, and I completely understand that,” Phillips said. “I have no hard feelings.”
The left-handed hitter, who is batting .330 overall this season, is hitting .417 against left-handers and .390 with runners in scoring position for the Beavers.
He had the 15th five-hit game in Portland’s franchise history in the Beavers’ 21-4 rout of the 51s on June 25 at Cashman Field and went 3-for-4 here in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Las Vegas.
Phillips was the designated hitter for Portland on Monday but also plays first base, third base and catcher.
“We needed a left-handed hitter, and he’s been hitting well for us,” Beavers manager Terry Kennedy said. “He’s got a pretty good idea of the strike zone. He can use the whole field.”
What Phillips can’t do is run fast, and Kennedy said his lack of speed could hurt his chances of getting called up by the Padres.
“With our style of play, his legs might be holding him back,” he said. “We’ve got a big field, and we need guys who are mobile. We run and steal bases.
“We’re building our team for our ballpark, and that’s probably going to work against him.”
Phillips said he hopes to hit well enough to offset his lack of speed.
“All I can do is just try to hit and let my bat do the talking,” he said. “There are some guys in the big leagues right now that are a little bit slower than me, but they do the best they can with what they have.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.PORTLAND — 8 LAS VEGAS — 5
KEY: Nick Green and Chris Stewart had two RBIs apiece for the Beavers, who scored seven runs in the sixth inning.
NEXT: Beavers (RHP Cesar Carrillo) at 51s (LHP Luis Perez), 7:05 p.m. today, KBAD-AM (920)