DJack Tyler Phillips makes MLB debut a historic one for Phillies

By Bob Behre | July 10, 2024

Former Diamond Jack Tyler Phillips was elevated from the IronPigs to the Phillies on Sunday.

Former Diamond Jack and Bishop Eustace pitcher Tyler Phillips made his major league debut on Sunday when he pitched four tidy innings of relief for the Philadelphia Phillies, the team for which the South Jersey resident grew up rabidly cheering.

As if Phillips’ major league debut wasn’t exciting enough, the 6-5, 225-pound righthander pitched terrific and broke a 123-year old Phillies record in the process.

Phillips, 26, entered the game in the fifth inning of what would be a 6-0 loss to Atlanta and limited the Braves to one run on three hits over four innings. He struck out seven and walked none. The seven strikeouts would prove significant since a gentleman named Bill Duggleby set the Phillies record of six strikeouts by a pitcher making his major league debut in 1901.

Equally impressive is the fact that Phillips — despite what had to be a jumble of nerves and emotions running through him during the debut — did not walk a batter.

“Unreal,” Phillips told’s Todd Zolecki in the post-game. “I don’t know what to say. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”

Former DJack Tyler Phillips was terrific in his MLB debut for the Phillies on Sunday.

Phillips came out of the bullpen to start the bottom of the fifth inning in a game the Phillies were already trailing 5-0. But Phillips arrived with some weapons in his arsenal and struck out the Braves in order. He began the fifth by catching Matt Olsen looking at a 2-2 curveball. He then mowed down Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud for an unforgettable start.

Phillips made it four strikeouts in a row when he struck out Adam Duvall looking to begin the sixth inning. Eli White then took Phillips deep with two outs. The solo HR would be the only run allowed by the righthander. He picked up one strikeout in both the seventh and eighth innings, including getting White to end the eighth.

Phillips’ family was in the stands, including his three year-old son, Frank. “(Frank) was crying after the game,” Phillips told “I was hoping it was happy tears, but he was really just scared of the Braves mascot.”

Phillips joins fellow Bishop Eustace grad Zac Gallen, 28, of the Diamondbacks in ‘The Show.’ Gallen, 17-9 a year ago and third in the NL Cy Young voting, graduated two years ahead of Phillips and was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of North Carolina.

Phillips was just 17 when Texas drafted him in the 16th round out of high school in 2015, beginning an arduous journey through the minor leagues. He finally reached Triple-A in the Rangers organization in 2021, but began to have some right elbow discomfort that season. He was traded to the Phillies during the 2021 season but would miss the entire 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The reconstructed elbow enabled Phillips to pick up where he left off and was back in Triple-A in 2023, playing for the Phillies’ Lehigh High Valley IronPigs. Phillips, who started in 129 of his 149 minor league appearances over eight seasons, was 7-3 with a 4.89 ERA at Lehigh Valley this season.

He averaged a little more than eight strikeouts and a little more than two walks per-nine innings during his minor league career.

Incredibly, a third pitcher from the same era at Bishop Eustace, Devin Smeltzer, also made it to the major leagues. Smeltzer was a junior when Gallen was a senior and Phillips was a junior when Smeltzer was a senior. Smeltzer, 28, debuted with Minnesota in 2019.

Smeltzer was drafted in the 33rd round out of high school in 2014 but chose to go to Jacinto College in Houston. Smeltzer was elevated two years later to the 5th round by the Dodgers. He’s posted a 9-5 record and a 4.32 ERA over 43 appearances in the major leagues for the Twins and Miami Marlins. Smeltzer is currently playing for the Marlins Triple-A affiliate Jacksonville (Fla.).

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