The Phillies’ patience with Tyson Gillies finally ran out. The talented but often troubled outfielder was removed from the team’s 40-man roster Friday after he passed through waivers unclaimed by another club.
Gillies, 25, remains on the roster at Triple A Lehigh Valley, where he entered Friday hitting just .217 with a .281 on-base percentage in 37 games.
Gillies joined the Phillies as a much-ballyhooed prospect from the Seattle system in the December 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners. The deal was not popular from the beginning because the Phillies dealt away a top pitcher (they eventually re-signed Lee as a free agent) and the reviews have only gotten worse as none of the three players that came back from Seattle have panned out.
Pitcher J.C. Ramirez was let go after last season. Power-armed pitcher Phillippe Aumont remains on the 40-man roster at Triple A but has not contributed in several stints in the majors. He had a brief stay with the big club last week and was sent back to the minors after surrendering homers in both of his appearances.
Gillies was a key figure in the Lee trade, a left-handed hitting outfielder with eye-popping athleticism and blazing speed. He hit .341 with 44 steals, 40 extra-base hits and a gaudy .430 on-base percentage for the Mariners’ Single-A California League team in 2009.
Gillies made jaws drop with his athleticism during his first spring training with the Phillies in 2010. He ran down balls like a gazelle in batting practice and climbed the outfield walls to rob home runs several times.
But a series of hamstring injuries, a lack of production and several off-field incidents held Gillies back. He was arrested on a cocaine possession charge in Florida in 2010. He pleaded not guilty and the charges were eventually dropped.
In subsequent seasons, Gillies was reprimanded by the organization first for an altercation with a bus driver during a road trip and more recently for losing his temper and damaging team property at Lehigh Valley. According to sources, Gillies again had trouble controlling his temper during a game at Lehigh Valley earlier this week, and that, along with the lack of production, may have been the last straw for the team.
Gillies had seemed to be on thin ice for a while, but his mesmerizing athleticism and the organization’s overall lack of outfield depth bought him some slack and allowed him to keep his spot on the 40-man roster until he was waived this week.