Dark-Horse Roster Candidate: Phillip Evans

new york mets

New York Mets’ prospect Phillip Evans has made quite the name for himself over the last few seasons. After a standout performance this spring, the 25-year-old from Carlsbad, CA has emerged as a dark-horse candidate to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

Originally a fifteenth-round draft pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, the La Costa Canyon HS product didn’t quite find his stroke as a professional until the 2016 season, with Double-A Binghamton.

In his first five seasons in the Mets’ farm system (2011-2015), Evans was on the brink of bust-status. His combined slash line over that time was .247/.313/.329 and his home run and RBI totals over the course of 1,322 at-bats between Rookie-A and High-A, were 9 and 129, respectively.

Then 2016 came and Phil Evans broke out in a very big way. After playing a great deal of his MiLB games at either shortstop or third, the Mets moved him exclusively to third base for the 2016 Double-A season.

In a year spent mostly with Binghamton (nine games in High-A PSL, 96 in B-Town), Evans was a brand new player. His slash line of .321/.366/.460 with 30 doubles, eight home runs, and 41 RBI were all personal MiLB-bests.

In 2017 there was more of the same for the 5’10” right-handed hitter. While his slashes dipped a bit (.279/.341/418), his young career was still trending upward. In 466 at-bats, Evans had 130 hits, 26 doubles, eleven home runs, and 56 RBI. Given the increase in the talent-level of the pitching Evans was seeing in Triple-A, this solid showing apparently went a long way in the Mets’ viewing of him.

They brought him up toward the end of last season to, presumably, get a better look at the young man. In 33 at-bats, Evans slashed .303/.395/.364 with two doubles, four walks, and an RBI.

In Spring Training this year, Phil Evans has had ample opportunity to showcase his skills. In 19 ST at-bats, Evans is slashing .263/.417/.684 with two doubles, two home runs, and six RBI.

I should point out, five of those six RBI came in one fantastic game last week, when Evans had a run-scoring double into the gap in the 8th inning of a game against the Astros, and then this:

 

Evans has clearly put in the work over the last few years to make it to this point, and I would bet green folding-money that he doesn’t want to spend another season out in the desert. If that’s the situation that he’s left in, of course, he’ll make that trek for the good of the team.

But I say there’s a fighting chance that he’ll start the season with the big club. Let’s go through the roster; eight starters (let’s just go with the projected starters for brevity’s sake), five starters (ditto), seven relievers, and a five-man bench.

The Mets’ double-catcher spot takes up one of these so, boom, we’re at four. Jose Reyes figures to have a bench spot penciled in, for now. Assuming Brandon Nimmo starts the year in centerfield, Juan Lagares would have a spot on the bench (unless recent trade rumors prove to be true). Wilmer Flores can also punch his ticket for LaGuardia in a couple of weeks as well.

That leaves one spot on the Mets’ roster to fill. It’s got to be someone who can play anywhere, or close to it. It must be someone who can come off of the bench in a pinch and park one in the seats.

Philip Evans plays third base, played shortstop and second in the minors, and has been getting plenty of reps in the outfield this spring, including a (presumably) gorgeous play, throwing out a runner tagging up from third with the tying run.

Plus, if Lagares does indeed get traded before Opening Day, as some have suggested, it would leave the door open even wider for Evans to start the year on the Mets’ bench.

While he may not be a huge power threat, his clobbering of that pitch against the ‘Stros came in a pretty big spot (as big as a Grapefruit League spot can be). Evans has made leaps-and-bounds over the past few years and I believe it’s time he gets a full-time role with the Mets, at least until Michael Conforto returns, that is.

But by then, Evans may have cemented his place on this team and could end usurping another role-player’s, role (looking at you, Jose Reyes).

About Tim Ryder 377 Articles
A native of the South Shore of Long Island. Follow me on Twitter @TimothyRRyder