I was able to get in a quick Q&A with NY Mets shortstop prospect Phillip Evans the other day, just weeks before he has to get ready to head for Port St. Lucie for the start of Spring Training. The Mets got a steal when they plucked Evans in the 15th round of last years draft. Other teams had been scared off due to a commitment by Evans to attend San Diego State, but just hours before the deadline to sign players, the Mets were able to come to terms with him on a professional contract. And boy are they glad they did. Evans at age 19, plays much older. He is far advanced for his age, as a hitter and an infielder, and is a complete player in all facets of the game. I asked Phillip about his hitting, his fielding, his base-running, and just about everything else too. Look inside to see what he had to say:
Petey: First of all congratulations Phillip on a terrific year! From being the 15th round pick in the draft by the Mets, to signing a pro contract and making your professional debut playing at three different levels of the Mets farm system. You got to play in front of the awesome fans in Brooklyn, and helped them get to the championship round of the New York Penn League Playoffs. It must have been a very exciting year for you, I would imagine. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. Are you having a nice off-season? How are you doing these days?
Phillip: Thanks Pete! It was definitely a very exciting year for me, from playing my final high school season at La Costa Canyon in front of my friends and family to playing in Brooklyn and being supported by the best fans you can get in minor league baseball. All the levels that I played in from the GCL to Kingsport, then Brooklyn were all great experiences for me within the first few weeks of my career.
Petey: Were you born to play baseball? When did you first start to think about playing it for a living?
Phillip: Baseball is not just a job to me, its a kids game so in my mind I try to keep things simple and have as much fun as possible between those two white lines. I was most definitely born to play baseball! I’ve been playing since I was 4 years and my love for the game is through the roof and it will stay that way for the rest of my life. I have always dreamed about playing the game I love for a living.
Petey: That’s awesome. Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of becoming a major league baseball player?
Phillip: My dad has always been motivating me through my career so far. I have learned a lot from all of coaches from travel ball when I was younger, to my high school coach Justin Machado who taught me a lot about controlling my emotions and how to carry myself on and off the field.
Petey: When the Mets drafted you in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft, out of La Costa Canyon High School, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you know the Mets were interested in drafting you? You were projected to be a very early round pick, but fell to the 15th due to your strong commitment to attend San Diego State. What round(s) were you thinking you might be taken in the draft?
Phillip: I was very surprised and happy that the Mets drafted me, the draft works in some funky ways so I had no idea what to expect going into it but the Mets organization is a great fit for me.
Petey: Your right about the draft, it’s impossible to figure it out, but we Mets fans are happy they drafted you too, and very happy you decided to sign. At the plate, you have a very solid swing. On your stride you exhibit good balance, and weight shift, with excellent hip rotation. Your swing is short and compact, and the bat cuts very quickly through the hitting zone because of your quick hands and wrists. What is your strategy for approaching each at bat?
Phillip: I step up to the plate with confidence and look for a pitch that is most likely going to be thrown in a certain count or situation and drive it wherever it is pitched.
Petey: You are usually a top of the order guy, do you see yourself as a stolen base threat?
Phillip: Yes I have a quick first step and get going on the base paths pretty well, I have been keeping myself in great shape this winter and will be stealing bags this season.
Petey: Wow that’s great to hear! You have played mostly shortstop so far but can also handle second base. Do you have a preference as to which position you like best? Have the Mets made any indications to you regarding where they plan to play you next year?
Phillip: Being on a baseball field is my life and brings me tremendous joy I love to play shortstop but I would play any position just to be out on that field everyday.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself playing like someday in the majors?
Phillip: I am from the Bay Area so I will always be a San Francisco Giants fan, my favorite players growing up and still to this day are Jimmy Rollins & Jose Reyes.
Petey: What are your goals for next season? And how do you prepare over the winter, can you describe your workout regimen? What do you like to do for recreation?
Phillip: My goals for next season is to do everything possible to help my team win ball games. I have been working very hard this off-season in the weight room and on the diamond, but in my free time I love being at the beach and in the ocean, just laying in the sand and playing beach volleyball makes me happy. Living five minutes from the beach definitely helps me out with those things I love to do away from the field, haha.
Petey: Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at any of the three stops you made after signing, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.
Phillip: Danny Muno really impressed me this season from what I saw him do everyday he showed up to the yard, Going through the different levels with him around will be fun since he is a great team guy knows how to handle himself on and off the field.
Petey: I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Danny in the fall, and he is quite a competitor. To finish up Phillip, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Phillip: My favorite Movie has to be The Sandlot, I love all kinds off music, pretty much every kind of genre, its nice to mix up the music selection sometimes, I love sushi, seafood, and steak!
Petey: Haha! I love The Sandlot too! I just interviewed one of your teammates from the end of last season, Travis Taijeron, and he also picked The Sandlot. Thanks again Phillip for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a very pleasant rest of the off-season and we’ll see you at spring training, which is only a month away!
Phillip: It was my pleasure to answer these questions, anytime just throw some questions my way, and I’ll get on them right away, thanks for having me Pete! Have a good few weeks and I’ll see you at spring training!
Petey: My pleasure Phillip. We will definitely be in touch, thank you!
What can you say? Evans is a baseball player. He is not afraid to get his uniform dirty. He knows how to bunt. He drives balls in the gap. He’ll take it the opposite way. He can actually field, he’s a middle infielder and will stay there, he won’t be spending the next four years searching for a position to play, like so many Mets “prospects” of the past. He’s a hard-nosed player, a good base-runner, and will even steal you a couple of bags. He’s smart, confident, eager to learn, and I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch for him to start out this year in the long-season South Atlantic League as a member of the Savannah Sand Gnats everyday infield. We’ll check back with Phillip during spring training and see how everything’s going.
Scene from The Sandlot >click here<
Another scene >click here<
For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.