Red Sox promote speedy outfield prospect Phillip Sikes to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted outfield prospect Phillip Sikes from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, per the team’s minor-league transactions log.

Sikes made his debut for the Drive in their game against the Greensboro Grasshoppers on Monday night and went 1-for-4 with a single and strikeout. The 23-year-old was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of last summer’s draft out of Texas Christian University.

After signing with Boston for $97,500 last July, Sikes began his first full professional season in Salem. In 50 games with the Red Sox, the right-handed hitting speedster batted .258/.390/.516 (150 wRC+) to go along with 18 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 28 RBIs, 36 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 28 walks, and 55 strikeouts over 195 plate appearances.

He was sidelined for approximately 10 days (June 16-25) due to an undisclosed injury, but made his impact felt upon his return to Salem’s lineup by slashing a stout .385/.462/.846 in his last six games leading up to Monday’s promotion.

Among Carolina League hitters who have made at least 190 trips to the plate this season, Sikes ranks 17th in walk rate (14.4%), eighth in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, third in OPS (.905), third in isolated power (.258), second in speed score (9.1), and fourth in wRC+ (150), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Sikes started in right field while making his debut for Greenville on Monday. With Salem, the 6-foot-2, 190 pounder logged 102 2/3 innings in left field, 226 innings in center, and 72 innings in right. He also made two scoreless appearances as a pitcher.

Sikes, who does not turn 24 until next April, is not yet regarded by any major publication as one of the top outfield prospects in the Red Sox’ farm system. That being said, the native Texan has gotten his professional career off to a solid start and should figure to spend the rest of the 2022 campaign in Greenville.

On that note, Sikes becomes the latest member of Boston’s 2021 draft class to suit up for the Drive so far this season, as he joins the likes of Tyler McDonough, Nathan Hickey, Wyatt Olds, Niko Kavadas, and Jacob Webb.

(Picture of Phillip Sikes via the Salem Red Sox)

Red Sox outfield prospect Phillip Sikes homers twice, drives in 4 runs for Low-A Salem as impressive month of May rolls on

Red Sox outfield prospect Phillip Sikes had a monster game in Low-A Salem’s 8-2 win over the Fredericksburg Nationals at Virginia Credit Union Stadium on Wednesday night.

Batting eighth and starting in center field, Sikes went 3-for-4 at the plate with two home runs, one double, four RBIs, three runs scored, and one walk. He also picked up an outfield assist and helped turn an inning-ending double play by gunning down top Nationals prospect Brady House at first base in the bottom of the third.

Both of Sikes’ homers were solo shots that came off two different Nationals relievers in the fourth and sixth innings. His double came in the top half of the seventh and plated an additional two runs to lift Salem to their 21st win of the year.

After getting his first full professional season off to a rough start in April (73 wRC+), Sikes — like many in Salem’s lineup — has turned things around for the better in May. Following Wednesday’s performance, the right-handed hitter has slashed .265/.351/.592 (152 wRC+) with five doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBIs, nine runs scored, two stolen bases, five walks, and 15 strikeouts over 14 games (57 plate appearances) this month.

Defensively, Sikes has already seen playing time at all three outfield positions this year, logging 71 2/3 innings in left, 123 innings in center, and 40 innings in right. The 6-foot-2, 190 pounder recorded his second outfield assist of the season on Wednesday.

Back on May 4, Sikes made his professional debut as a pitcher in Salem’s 24-6 loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The right-hander needed just nine pitches (seven strikes) to toss a perfect ninth inning in what was his first appearance on a mound since 2019.

Sikes, 23, was selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of last year’s draft out of Texas Christian University. The native Texan is not yet regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system, though he may be already be one of the quickest players in the organization.

According to FanGraphs, Sikes has posted a Speed Score of 8.3 this season. First developed by Bill James, Speed Score measures a player’s speed and baserunning ability on a 0 to 10 scale. Sikes’ 8.3 Speed Score, then, is quite good.

Among Carolina League hitters with at least 110 plate appearances under their belt in 2022, Sikes ranks 13th in Speed Score and 14th in isolated power (.194). Among minor-leaguers in the Red Sox organization who have made 110 or more trips to the plate, Sikes ranks fourth in Speed Score and 12th in isolated power, per FanGraphs.

Coming into play on Thursday, Sikes has multiple hits in three of his last seven games. He will look to keep things going as Salem goes for its fourth straight win beginning at 7:05 p.m. eastern time.

(Picture of Phillip Sikes via the Salem Red Sox)

Who is Phillip Sikes? Red Sox outfield prospect batted .392 in Florida Complex league last year after being taken in 18th round of 2021 draft

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)