The 2017 season got out to a nice start for former 1st round pick Phillip Ervin. Assigned to the Louisville Bats to begin the season he hit .277/.324/.523 in April in his time in Triple-A. He even saw limited action in a brief call up with the Cincinnati Reds.

For as good as things went during April, they went just as bad in May. Over 92 plate appearances Phillip Ervin hit .176/.231/.200 for the Bats. He walked just six times in the month and struck out 26 times while hitting just two doubles. It was easily the worst month by OPS that he’s ever had as a professional.

Things got better in June for Phillip Ervin. He hit .250 and drew 14 walks with just 18 strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. That put his on-base percentage at .359 for the month. The power didn’t return much, slugging just .341 with five doubles and a home run. Still, it was a move in the right direction for the 2013 first round pick.

Last night Phillip Ervin went 3-5 with a walk for the Louisville Bats. It just continued hit hot string of hitting for the Reds Triple-A squad. In 57 plate appearances he’s hit .389/.411/.519 for Louisville. That’s come along with five doubles and a triple.

What’s been interesting is that he’s been a very different hitter since June began. In April and May he was hitting the ball to right field more than he was pulling the ball. That’s changed quite a bit since June began, going to right field about half as often. The other big change is that he’s gone from hitting ground balls at a 40% rate in April and May to 54% since the start of June.

He’s clearly been working on making adjustments at the plate. Outside of a terrible month of May, he’s actually hit well for the Louisville Bats this season. In 232 plate appearances outside of the month he’s hitting .295/.361/.444 with 21 walks and 42 strikeouts.

The overall line for the recently turned 25-year-old doesn’t look good at this point. His terrible month of May is still dragging things down, but he’s been improving for the last seven weeks with the Bats and changing his approach at the plate. We don’t know if it will keep going, but for now, it’s been working quite well for him.

44 Responses

  1. Alex

    This is amusing. We should run the stats on all the players in baseball; and omit their worst calendar month of stats, 3.5 months into the season. What a player this guys must be! If you only eliminate 27% of his bad games, he’s like a solid player overall!! Sound analysis

    • Kindell

      I think it matters more than what you think. In the 5th paragraph he listed stats that have changed lately compared to the previous months. Most likely Ervin made some type of adjustment in his approach that is paying off.

      The smallest adjustment can make a world of difference in a player (Justin Turner and the high leg kick). All of these Minor League players have talent, but the right adjustment can push them to the next level. IMO, I believe organizations break down sections of the season exactly like this article did to see these types of changes that work for a player.

    • Steve

      Yes if you take away any players’ worst month they will look better, however that is hardly the point of this article. The article is pointing out that Ervin has been making changes to his swing and approach and now those seem to be paying off. It will take a player some time to adjust to the new approach so you would expect a down period and then it does become useful to look at his progression since that period.

    • earmbrister

      What’s amusing is that you twist his words into saying that Ervin is a “sound player overall”. The article was about Ervin turning things (his season) around, which you could’ve gotten from the title of the article, if not from actually reading it.

      Your comments come across as more than just a bit derogatory, which is unnecessary.

    • Doug Gray

      Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit, is it?

      • Doug Gray

        Remember when he was?

        You seem to be confused about the difference between is doing and will continue to do. Saying that someone is doing something is not the same as saying they will continue to do it. That I’ve got to explain this to you is rather disappointing.

      • Doug Gray

        Did those four innings not happen, Rick? Were they fake, imagined innings? No. Those innings actually happened.

        But hey, I hope you feel a lot better about yourself today by bringing this up. You clearly needed the pick-me-up. I hope things keep going well for you moving forward.

      • Rick

        No. The 4 innings happened. But anyone with a brain would understand that sample size is ridiculous to base praise and conclusion off of. Hey spin up a big puff piece on Suarez. He’s hitting .666 in the last 24 hours with a HR and a few RBI. Monster performance!!

      • Doug Gray

        Like I said, Rick, I hope things keep going well for you. You clearly need the pick me ups in your life.

      • Doug Gray

        To expand, though – this isn’t the investigative journal of science. It’s a baseball website. Some articles are simply going to be random thoughts and observations.

        Also, there was no conclusion based off of that sample size. None. Have a good day, Rick.

  2. Shawn

    There is a good chance he will be the 4th OFer for the Refs next year. I hope Hamilton is the 5th. I would like to see the Reds either sign a CFer or trade for one next year.

  3. ephram

    Ervin’s BABIP has been pretty consistent around 0.280 over the past 3 years. Will be interesting to see if he can keep it at its current peak of about 40~50 points above that.

    Hopefully he can keep hitting and work his way into becoming an adequate major league platoon player.

  4. DaveCT

    Doug, did you mean to say Ervin was going to right field in April and May (“more than he was pulling the ball.”)?

    If so, it sure makes total sense given the read on him has been that he hasn’t hit the outside breaking ball whatsoever. So, to speculate, I wonder if he was going to right, in general, and working on the outside breaking ball, specifically. I also would be interested to see if that success led to him being able to drive the ball to his pull side more effectively. Sure would be a nice sign.

  5. Shamrock

    I’ve seen over on Redszone a bunch of fans predicting Ervin will be left off the 40 man roster this winter. I feel that would be a pretty big mistake.
    Sure, back when he was drafted we were all expecting the next Reggie Sanders. With that said, obviously we were all a bit disappointed and even went as far as labeling him as a Bust.
    But as a #4 outfielder/bench bat I think we would be foolish to leave this kid unprotected.

    • Norwood Nate

      It would be silly to remove him from the 40-man. Sounds like those fans are pretty shortsighted. The fact that he’s even appeared in the majors makes him not a bust.

      He’s the only legitimate candidate to back up CF on the roster if we needed a back up for an extended period of time. And while his batting line isn’t what we’d hoped for at this point, he hasn’t fallen flat on his face either in his first stint in AAA. He has good plate discipline, is a stolen base threat, and has a little pop. He can play all three OF positions. Who else on the roster (or will be added to the roster) offers that combination of skills? No one above A ball.

    • MK

      When Reggie Sanders came along everyone though he was the next Eric Davis and they were equally disappointed, but Reggie ended up being OK and Phillip probably will be too.

  6. RobL

    A 54% groundball rate is terrible. That means no power. Why would you like a pitcher to throw a lot of grounders AND a batter hit a lot of them? It would seem that it has helped his babip, but at the expense of his pop.

    Like Alex said, small sample sizes can lead to a lot of fun with numbers. Especially when you cherry pick the samples. But the underlying reasons for the numbers just don’t sound like anything more than a weak hitting backup.

    • Kindell

      I don’t think Phillip Ervin is ever going to be a 30 HR a year player. He does have above average speed though, so I much rather have his GB Rate go up if that he means he is getting on base more. The GB rate being doesn’t necessarily make him a weak hitter either.

      • RobL

        Ground balls rarely go for extra base hits. Hard to hit for power when most of your balls are worm burners.

        And you become dependent on babip luck to be good. Line drives lead to the most hits and doubles. Fly balls lead to the most outs, but more homers. Grounders fall in the middle and lead to names like Punching Judy.

    • Doug Gray

      Big fly ball rates are nice if they are leading to power and hits. When they lead to you hitting .230, like they have for Ervin in the past three seasons, and it’s also not coming with a bunch of power, it’s not always ideal.

      As a backup, you’re pretty much either going to be a power hitter who sucks at defense, or a glove guy who probably doesn’t have much power. If you were something different from those two, you’d be a starter.

      • RobL

        Is he really a glove guy? I have been under the impression that he can handle center, but he isn’t really one.

        Last year, he walked enough, and hit for just enough power to be useful. If he has traded the power for grounders, why would any big league pitcher walk him?

      • Doug Gray

        Why would any big league pitcher walk Jesse Winker? Because pitchers can’t throw the ball exactly where they want to at all times and the guys that can lay off of the pitches out of the zone are the ones that tend to walk.

        And yes, Ervin is a glove guy. He’s not Ryan Freel, but if you can handle center field, you’re a glove guy, even if you aren’t some elite center fielder.

  7. EF Hutton

    There will have to be about 5 tough decisions this winter on whom to protect in the Rule V draft. Ervin will be one of them. Hard to keep a guy on the 40-man roster who is no more than a 5th OF at the ML level. Ervin has had 4+ years to show what he has. Ervin has fallen in Mr. G’s most recent prospect rankings from #15 to #23. That is a precipitous drop.
    If Ervin’s bat picks up in late July to Sept. 1, good he keeps his 40-man spot. If his bat falls off even slightly between now and Sept. 1, drop him from the 40-man roster and expose him to the Rule V draft in November. Even Mr. G has place recent draftee, Stuart Fairchild, 10 spots above Ervin on his new list. If a second round reach like Fairchild can immediately supplant a first rounder without even playing many games yet, that doesn’t bode well for Ervin.
    Add into the mix the tremendous emergence of Jose Siri, and a light hitting OF like Ervin might not deserve 40-man spot come November. The next 6 weeks might just be the most important 6 weeks in Phillip Ervin’s pro career.

    • Norwood Nate

      I would disagree that he’s no more than a 5th OF. It may be a small distinction, but I’d consider him a great candidate to be the 4th OF. He’ll give you solid defense at all 3 OF positions (something no one else on the 40-man can do, and no one who’s up to be added next season could either). He’s always posted good BB rates, is a base stealing threat, and has a little pop in his bat. Those attributes sound like an ideal bench piece/4th OF’er. To me, 5th OF’ers are the Ryan Raburn/Laynce Nix types. Guys who you can stick in an OF corner and have one distinguishable skill as a PH (power in their case).

      We currently have 5 guys on the 60-day DL. But two of those guys aren’t likely to be on the roster next year (Arroyo, Ogando). Travieso may not either, as it’s hard to see a team taking him coming off surgery and a lost season this year. Storen, Feldman, and Cozart will no longer be under Reds control. That takes the Reds roster to 39 or 40 depending on Travieso.

      The Reds should absolutely consider protecting Mahle, Weiss, Blandino, LaValley, and Lopez (there may be a few others that slip my mind at the moment). There are several names I’d consider removing well before I’d get to Ervin’s name. Those include, in no particular order, Astin, Bonilla, Shackleford, Wojo, Wood, Alcantara, and Kivlehan. There’s a couple others I think the Reds should protect but would be in the same range as Ervin (Adelman, Mella, Davis, Aquino). I don’t think Ervin’s going to end up near the cut line.

      • EF Hutton

        Valid points yes. But it does depend on who all 5 of the OFers are. If you have a 4 man rotation of Duvall, BHam, Schebler, and Winker, then Ervin is a 5th OF. Now if one is traded, I can see Ervin as a 4th OF, yes. But a fly in soup is that Gennett may get more OF playing time and there is still Kivlehan. So Ervin comes in a bit down on the pecking order starting out. The Reds seemed to be sold on Duvall and Schebler as their corner OFers for the next 2-3 years. So what to do with Winker and Ervin?

      • Norwood Nate

        I don’t think the current roster construction should come in to play when discussing future roles. We’re discussing what he profiles as, not where he is in the pecking order. Yes, Ervin would be behind Duvall, Schebler, Hamilton, and Winker. But does that make him profile as a 5th outfielder? Was Mike Leake a #5 starter when he was behind Cueto, Latos, Bailey, and Arroyo? Because he sure wasn’t paid like a 5th starter when he hit FA.

        Personally, I’m hoping the Reds find a trade partner that will give us good value for one of Duvall or Schebler this offseason and open up a spot for Winker. Kivlehan may or may not stick on the roster, and even if he does, he’s exactly what would profile as a 5th OF’er regardless.

    • Doug Gray

      2nd round reach? What are you talking about?

      • EF Hutton

        Yes sir. Fairchild at #38 was a r-r-e-e-a-a-c-c-h-h. Now at the bottom of the 2nd round or 3rd round, OK. About 30-40 spots lower than 38.
        Fairchild reminds of another very highly drafted college OF, Jeff Gelalich. No longer in the organization after just a few short years.
        I saw Wake Forrest in a couple of games on TV during the season and a couple of more during the ACC tourney. I didn’t come away impressed with Fairchild. He’s good, but not near first round good.
        The most impressive player in the CWS eligible for next year’s draft was the little guy from Oregon State. I can’t think of his name of the top of my head. It will take a top-5, maybe a top-3 pick to get him next year. I had to look it up. He is 5’7″ Nick Madrigal. He was very impressive.

      • Doug Gray

        BA had him ranked 41st entering the draft. One rival executive said he could be a future all-star.

        Your couple of games watching him on TV doesn’t really hold the same kind of value.

  8. EF Hutton

    At the very least is that Ervin is regaining a little trade value.
    After yesterday, the Reds second main trade chip, Scott Feldman, lost any trade value he had for a flip trade. I don’t think he would even get traded in August as he could be claimed if placed on waivers for a waiver-trade. We’ll have to wait and see on his knee.
    Cozart, the market is just not developing for a SS at this time. Barely a market for any 2B’s. And Cozart’s quad injury and cooled off bat certainly don’t help his cause and trade value. I don’t see Cozart as an August trade as he would most likely get claimed off waivers first.
    Blake Wood, has no trade value whatsoever. A release should be imminent.
    Drew Storen, has very, very, very little trade value, if any at all. Erratic performances has sealed his fate as an untradeable commodity. Maybe, maybe he could be included in some sort of package.
    Tony Cingrani, there really is no need to trade him. It would be foolish to trade him now.
    Homer Bailey has no trade value as he continues his struggles in recovering from another elbow surgery.
    Devin Mesoraco might have a little bit of trade value, but would it would be better for him to play some to regain some value in the second half. This winter might be the time to explore any Mesoraco deal.
    If the Reds are going to be in the trade market this deadline, they might have to finally put up some prospects, like Phillip Ervin, to improve their roster form 2018. And improvements are sorely needed.

    • ephram

      I agree with everything you said.

      Except for where I disagree.

    • wes

      Ervin has no trade value either. WAY better prospects than him just get released. Scooter doesn’t have much value either.

      Suarez, Cozart, and Lorenzen are our three best bets to bring back any real value. I prefer Gennett to Suarez and can’t see him fitting in in the future.

      Be nice to package all 3 of those guys to Tampa for De Leon or something like that….

      • Doug Gray

        Way better prospects than Ervin aren’t getting released.

        And Scooter Gennett doesn’t have trade value? Really? The guy’s crushing the ball, can play second base and has multiple years of control left. That’s probably got plenty of value.

      • Wes

        The reds have 2 or 3 guys that are performing at a higher level than Ervin that they acquired other than via trade right? Either through rule 5 or waivers or just signing them- that’s 1 team….

        Who would you rather trade for- scooter or cozart? For me, it’s easily cozart. And the preseason asking price seemed to be a fringe top 10 organizational prospect. Don’t think they can get much more than that today…..by that logic- what could you be offered for gennett that you’d listen too? I’d much rather have him than cozart from reds standpoint and he looks a better fit, imo, than Suarez or any other option reds have for second next year. Just saying- someone would have to want scooter bad- like potential rotation piece bad- for me to deal scooter

      • Doug Gray

        So, guys that weren’t straight up released, like you said? And, let’s also not confuse “performing better right this second” with “better prospect”. They are two very different things.

      • Wes

        Ervin is 25. THe height of his value was the day he was drafted. He should be with big league team right now but also he’s hardly a prospect anymore.

      • Doug Gray

        Sounds like something that could have been said about Zack Cozart or Todd Frazier on their 25th birthdays, too.

  9. wes

    It’s a lot easier to leave Ervin off roster if they have a better understanding of what he has to offer. He should be up and Winker should be down. Let him be the 4th outfielder and see how he plays that role- I think he could be excellent at that spot. Has all the intangibles.

  10. Shawn

    Have to think Cozart, Feldman, Storen, Adleman, Alcantara, will be off the 40 man roster. Kivelhan, Aston, Bonilla, Brice, Ogando, Shackelford, Stevens and Wojo others that may come off. Which of these do you feel will come off the list Doug?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think Adleman is going anywhere unless something changes between now and October. Same for Stephens.

  11. MK

    As a young man from Alabama it appears Phillip warmed up when the weather warmed up