Phillips swinging red-hot bat for 'Betsy

By Wes Holtsclaw

   At the beginning of the season, Kyle Phillips was just another name on the Elizabethton Twins roster.
   Within the past six games, the California native and son of a baseball family has risen to the top of the hitting leaders in the Appalachian League.
   "He consistently acquaints the bat to the ball," said Twins manager Ray Smith. "He's a student of the game and works on all phases. He has a big league make-up and is a special type of guy. You like to see these guys have success."
   In Thursday night's game against Johnson City, Phillips added three more hits to his staggering early numbers in league play. He's now hitting .500 with 19 hits and 14 RBIs.
   It's been quite a turn from his .198 average with the Fort Myers Twins of the Gulf Coast League in 2002.
   "It feels awesome being able to hit off everything," said Phillips. "I've been taking some good hacks in batting practice, and adapting it to my game."
   Kyle's father, Clyde, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and had his career cut short with an ankle injury. His older brother, Jason Phillips, is currently splitting first-baseman duties with the New York Mets.
   Phillips was listed as a catcher for the Twins, but as adapted to the first-base position some this season.
   "My family's very competitive," he said. "My dad played in the pros and my brother's at the top, so it's a big competition in the family. It's different because we talk to each other and give each other advice."
   "But it's hard when he asks how to hit John Smoltz," Phillips joked. "We try to help each other out."
   While Phillips' brother is batting .288 with 34 hits in his starts for the Mets this season, the younger Phillips is happy to be involved with a solid team unit in Elizabethton.
   "As a team, we're picking each other up with good pitching and defense," he said. "Guys getting on base helps me out, we're all seeing the ball and fielding it well. We've had a great start."