The Red Sox selected 10 college players from Power Five schools in the 2021 amateur draft, including Texas Christian University outfielder Phillip Sikes.
Sikes, 22, began his college career at the University of New Mexico in 2018. He then transferred to Pima Community College in Arizona for his sophomore season and was taken by the Diamondbacks in the 33rd round of the 2019 draft.
Rather than go pro as a draft-eligible sophomore, Sikes opted to transfer to TCU for his junior and senior seasons. After being taken by Boston in the 18th round of last summer’s draft, the Paris, Texas native ultimately signed with the club for $97,500.
Regarded by Baseball America as the 465th-ranked prospect in the 2021 draft class, Sikes’ first assignment as a professional came in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. The right-handed hitter debuted for the Sox’ FCL affiliate on August 5 and proceeded to slash a stout .392/.464/.622 to go along with eight doubles, three home runs, 18 RBIs, 18 runs scored, five stolen bases, eight walks, and 24 strikeouts over 24 games (84 plate appearances) to close out the minor-league season.
In 63 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, Sikes posted a 1.227 OPS but only produced a .679 OPS in 22 plate appearances against lefties.
Although he was admittedly older for the level he was playing at, Sikes was still one of the top hitters in the lower-minors last year. Among FCL hitters who made at least 80 trips to the plate in 2021, the former Horned Frog ranked third in batting average, third in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS (1.086), 18th in isolated power (.230), and fifth in wRC+ (185), per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Sikes had played all three outfield positions while in college and things remained that way — albeit to a lesser degree — during his first pro season. The 6-foot-2, 190 pounder logged 158 2/3 innings in center, seven in left, and nine in right while recording two outfield assists and turning one double play.
A former two-way player as an amateur, Sikes profiles best as a corner outfielder moving forward. According to his Baseball America scouting report from before last July’s draft, Sikes “has a solid, well-rounded tool set. He’s a plus runner who has demonstrated that he can catch up to a good fastball, although he can be enticed to chase a tantalizing slider.
“Sikes has a short, direct swing that is geared more for hitting for average than power, but he has enough strength to drive balls to the right field power alley as well,” his scouting report continues. “Sikes is a well-rounded outfielder who can play center field in a pinch and is average in the corners. His arm is fringe-average but accurate.”
Sikes, who turns 23 next month, is not listed on any major publication’s top Red Sox prospects list heading into the 2022 campaign. That being said, the speedy outfielder is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin his first full season as a pro at High-A Greenville, which is certainly interesting when you consider the fact he did not play at the Low-A level last year.
(Picture of Phillip Sikes: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)