Profile: 6'2" - 200lbs - BT:S - TH:R - 2011 Age: 24
• Hit: 55-65
• Power: 40-50
• Eye: 50-60
• Range: 60-65
• Hands: 65-70
• Arm: 55-60
• Run: 40-40
Phelps was the Indians 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft and made the good decision to sign quickly (really wish more players would do that). Coming out of Stanford Phelps was a fairly polished product so when he handled short-season A ball (.830 OPS) rather easily, it wasn't a huge surprise. A bit of a speed bump in A+ didn't slow him long and he reached AAA in 2010.
Phelps lives in the shadow of the better known Jason Kipnis, who we've already profiled. That being the case, Phelps is probably a bit more Major League ready than Kipnis at this point, especially defensively. In the field he shows above average range, soft hands, makes the turn well and has an average or maybe slightly above average arm. Nothing stand-out, but solidly average or above across the board. He'll make all the routine plays and occasionally give you something special.
Offensively his swing is pretty solid, but I do have some issues. For one, I think he lands just a bit too wide in his stride which probably takes away somewhat from his ability to drive the ball - I think there's more power in him than you see. If he were to shorten up just a little bit I think he'd have an easier time producing a bit more torque. I also think the over-stride causes him to turn over his lead foot a tick earl y and perhaps roll-over a couple more pitches than necessary. I should also note however that what he loses in power, he might be making up for in balance. Phelps does a good job of staying over his back knee through his swing and is very still delivering the bat to the ball, and he'll barrel his share of line drives because of it.
I've read a lot of positive reviews about Phelps and I like him, but I'm probably not nearly as optimistic on his bat as others. While I think he might have a bit more power with refinement, I'm not sold that he'll hit for the averages that some might expect. He does have a decent eye and that's shown both in his plate appraoch and the walk/strikeout rates and that should make him a respectable OBP player.
He's shown flashes of more - specifically in his final stop at AAA last season and that obviously has folks excited for his potential. The problem is it hasn't been particularly consistent and there are times when even BABIP aided batting averages can't pump up his lack of power enough to make him more than a midling player in the minors (see AA 2010 and A+ 2009). Unfortunately I think he's more of a 8/9 hitter than the #2 hitter some might hope. That's not really a knock by any means, a player who can hit some while playing a solid/plus middle-infield spot is a very valuable player that could find a home on essentially any team in the league.
I see Phelps as a .260/.330/.380 type of hitter with a plus glove at second. The .710 OPS isn't anything to write home about but it's just a tick below league average for second baseman and his glove plays him up. Has the ability to be a solid every day regular who should stick around for awhile.
Corey Ettinger is a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net and 312Sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus.