There have been some great pitchers who have played at Boerne High and Boerne Champion over the years, but there hasn’t been anybody who can throw the ball as hard as Greyhound hurler Cole Phillips.
Phillips routinely flirts with the century mark on his velocity. In a scrimmage early in the year, he hit 99 on the radar gun and in tournament play at Victoria, the senior registered 101 miles per hour.
Phillips has Major League Baseball scouts at his games on a regular basis and reportedly every MLB team had somebody at one of the BHS scrimmages. But even with all the attention, the senior seems to take it all in stride.
“I got to experience it over the summer at these big showcase (tournaments) and camps so I kind of knew what to expect,” he said. “I guess the first time was a little bit of nervous excitement, but other than that it’s been pretty easy to work it out.”
More than anything, the senior said he’s just trying to enjoy the whole thing.
“It’s been a fun experience. My goal this year was to go out there and enjoy the process,” he said. “It’s been a blast and the guys have been super supportive of it.”
Even with all the added attention, the senior said he hasn’t changed his routine and noted that it’s just business as usual when it’s his turn on the mound.
“My approach stays the same, I stick to a routine that I’ve developed for myself over the past year, and it works well for me whether there are 1,000 people in the stands or if there’s nobody in the stands,” he said. “I go about my business the same way and it’s been paying off.”
Phillips has gained about 8 mph on his fastball since last year. As a freshman he said he threw 82 or 83 and as a sophomore he hit 90. Last year, Phillips registered at 93, and now he’s reached 101. He said there hasn’t been any real secret to gaining so much velocity.
“I added on weight each year and I cleaned up my mechanics,” he said. “I worked on getting more mobile and getting better movement on the mound, so a combination of all those things has really helped.”
Boerne coach Bill Merrell has been around the game for a long time and said he realizes he’s probably seeing a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent.
“I’ve never had a kid like this. I’ve had kids who can throw but not like this” the coach said. “He’s locked into doing what he needs to do. He works and all the kids seem to rally behind him.”
So what does it feel like to throw a ball 100 miles per hour?
“It just feels like I’m pitching,” Phillips said. “It doesn’t feel any different than when I used to throw 93 or now when I throw 100.”
The senior said his three main pitches are the fastball, the change up and the slider. Phillips added he can throw a curve but is focused on the other three pitches.
“Those are my three main pitches. I used to throw curve balls and mix that in there but mostly just those three pitches,” he said. “Right now I’m trying to master each pitch, once I master all three then I’ll add in another pitch.”
Coach Merrell pointed out that it’s one thing to have a guy who can throw 100 miles per hour, but it’s another thing to have a guy who can catch a fastball coming in at 100-plus.
Phillips has that in Texas State signee Rashawn Galloway. The talented Galloway said he had to adjust to a pitch coming in that fast, but added that he’s gotten used to it.
Merrell said Galloway’s ability has allowed Phillips to continue throwing fastballs without taking off any speed.
“That’s the other part of the equation, this kid is throwing hard but we have a catcher behind him that’s catching that, which to me should be impressing a lot of those scouts and colleges,” the coach said. “It’s nice to have (Galloway) out here.”
Phillips said he’s thankful to have someone like Galloway behind the plate. “It’s amazing, I’m super lucky,” he said.
“It’s amazing, I’m super lucky,” he said. “I know there are a lot of pitchers who aren’t in the same situation as I am with the team behind me and the guy I have behind the plate.”
Phillips will likely get drafted this coming summer, but the senior said he isn’t worried about that right now. He just wants to help the Greyhounds make it to Austin in June.
“There’s lots of conversations going on about that, but right now I’m in the high school grind and I’m trying to win a state championship,” he said. “I know there are going to be options when this ends so I’m talking it over with the family and whatever door opens, opens.”
Kerry Barboza is the Sports Editor for the Boerne Star.