Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Mets Shortstop Prospect Philip Evans

An article by posted on February 2, 2013

Phillip Evans

Player Name: Philip Evans
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 5’10″  Weight: 185 lb.
Position: Shortstop
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
MMO Top Prospect Ranking: 14 
ETA: 2015

Background:

Here’s what MMO had to say about Evans in the recent top 25 prospect feature:

The 2011 15th round pick who received a significant over-slot $660K bonus has been good, but not what has been expected overall. Evans has exclusively played shortstop though he profiles more as a second baseman due to his stocky build. The 2012 season saw Evans get his first full-season of short-season at-bats. The biggest downside in his numbers were the lack of more power, hitting .252 but only slugging .337. While the bat didn’t regress, the progression that should have occurred hasn’t. Evans is still young so the jury isn’t out on him yet.

Evans projects as a 10-15 HR player with a solid batting average and a decent glove as well. Hopefully the 2013 season will see Evans get his first real taste of full-season ball in Savannah and that he will continue to progress with his bat, while hopefully getting some reps at second now that the system is well stocked at short. Evans still has the potential to grow as a hitter, but needs to stop pulling the ball so much and start spraying the ball to all fields. He must also become more consistent defensively where he has a knack to make some flashy plays, but sometimes flubs a routine grounder. The Mets have a lot invested in him so he’ll get every chance to succeed.

Analysis:

I really like Evans’ approach at the plate. No, wait. Let me rephrase that. I love Evans’ approach at the plate.

His swing is mechanically sound—he keeps his hands and weight back, and has a very pretty, short and compact swing. By looking at his swing I would say he has excellent gap to gap power, and agree that he would have the ability to hit 10-15 home runs once he gets to the higher levels in the system.

With that short, quick swing like Evans has, it will be very difficult for any pitcher to sneak a fastball by him. I was also impressed with his patience at the plate. I have read some scouting reports on Evans which say that he can get caught out on his front foot on some off speed pitches, and that he has to work on his pitch recognition. By looking at his swing, and the way he keeps his weight back, it’s hard for me to see this being a problem in the future. The pitch recognition will become easier as he works his way through the system. You have to remember that when players are drafted out of high school, the majority of them haven’t gone up against quality off-speed pitches until they get to this level. There will be an adjustment period. Evans getting caught on his front foot could also be a case where he got caught guessing wrong at the plate (yes, hitters sometimes guess). Either way, he should be able to work it out.

Another thing that impressed me from the video above was what he did with an outside pitch (about 40 seconds in). He takes an outside pitch and laces a line-drive into right field. This is very promising and shows that he uses the entire field when hitting.

Evans had what many would consider a down year with Brooklyn last year. He hit .252 and added five home runs and 28 RBI. When looking at his splits, he did considerably better against left-handed pitching. This shouldn’t be too alarming at this level of his development. As I stated earlier, he was drafted out of high school, so he probably didn’t go up against pitchers on a day in and day out basis that had quality off-speed stuff. His first real taste came in 2012 in the NY-Penn League, where he was facing guys that were primarily drafted out of college. These guys all have arsenals of developed off-speed pitches. It’s easier to recognize off-speed pitches for right-handed batters coming from left-handed pitchers. That could explain the discrepancy in his righty/leftie splits.

SNY recently took a look at Evans last June on their Mets Minor League Report. Here is what Mets coaches and Toby Hyde said about him:

From what I have seen defensively from Evans, he looks like he could stick at shortstop. I hate when analysts start putting labels on players regarding not having the range or arm to play a particular position. Let the kid develop and play ball, and let the Mets determine where he ends up on the field. If the Mets were that concerned with his ability to play shortstop, they would have started transitioning him already. Evans will be a shortstop until he shows them that he can no longer play that position at higher levels. Until that happens, he’s a shortstop—a pretty good one for that matter.

2013 should be a season where we see Evans take a leap forward offensively. The tools are there, and he has a season of seeing off-speed pitches under his belt now. There is no reason why we shouldn’t see this kid turn the corner this season. Not only will he turn the corner, but he will be listed as one of the Mets’ top ten prospects headed into the 2014 season.

Phil Evans strikes a pose for MMO last season.

Phil Evans strikes a pose for MMO last season.

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