For all 2016 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out one a day over the offseason).

The 2015 season could not have started out better for Phillip Ervin. The outfielder homered in the first game of the season and continued the power show for the entire month of April. At the end of the month, in just 21 games, the outfielder had a .346/.429/.692 line with seven home runs and six doubles. He also drew 12 walks and had just 16 strikeouts.

For as good as April was, things slowed down to a crawl in May. The power disappeared and the walk rate lowered from the month before. In 28 games his line dropped to .211/.287/.298 with just six extra-base hits. He walked just 10 times in 130 plate appearances, but kept a similar strikeout rate as he showed in April (17%). The plate discipline was good, but he struggled to hit.

June was a step in the right direction as he showed improvements across the board, but it was still a bit of a struggle at times. In 85 plate appearances he would hit .236/.341/.347 with 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. Once again he showed strong plate discipline, but he failed to show the power, hitting just two doubles and two home runs in the month.

July was another struggle for Ervin. He would hit just .222/.327/.296 on the month with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts. His plate discipline was good in his 98 plate appearances on the month, and he stole eight bases. The problem was that lack of power once again. With just three doubles and a home run, the month of April with nearly a .700 slugging percentage was a distant memory.

August began with another rough start. In 17 games with Daytona he would hit just .200/.324/.250. He would draw 10 walks and strike out just 15 times, continuing to show quality plate discipline, but the power simply wasn’t there once again. Despite some struggles, he was promoted to Double-A Pensacola on the 20th and was leading the Florida State League in home runs when he was promoted. He would spend the final two-and-a-half weeks with the Blue Wahoos where he would hit .235/.409/.412. The plate discipline showed up again, this time with 13 walks and 15 strikeouts.

At first glance, the numbers don’t look like much for Ervin, but when you look closer you can see plenty to like. He posted a .713 OPS in Daytona, which was much better than the league average of .650. He then went to Pensacola and in just under three weeks posted an .812 OPS, which is 112 points higher than the league average in the Southern League.  He struggled to hit for much of an average, but his on-base sills were on display throughout the season and he showed a good amount of power as well – though it did come in spurts and wasn’t consistent over the course of the season. On top of his hitting, Ervin would also steal 34 bases in 44 attempts (77%).

PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG
541 21 0 14 71 34 66 98 .241 .346 .379

Scouting Report

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Hitting | Ervin could be an average hitter in the future, but he’s going to have to adjust his approach some. In April he was able to take full advantage of pitchers throwing him on the inner half of the plate and pulled everything. Pitchers adjusted and it took him a while to adjust back to the outside half of the plate.

Power | Ervin has 20-25 home run potential in his bat, but his power is entirely to the pull side. Of his 31 career minor league home runs, one of them wasn’t pulled to left field. It was a home run to center field that was hit in the thin air in the Arizona Fall League earlier this year.

Running | Despite back-to-back 30 stolen base seasons, Ervin is just an above-average runner. He’s faster than he looks while running and moves quite well.

Arm | While his assist total was an impressive 15 in the 2015 season, Ervin merely shows off an average arm.

Defense | In center field Ervin is probably a fringy defender. He can probably handle the position but isn’t going to be an asset at the position from the defensive standpoint. In the corners, where he had been a less than stellar defender, he took steps forward again this season as he improved his reads and now stands out as a defender.

The 2015 season was an interesting one. On one hand, Ervin got out to an incredible start and struggled the rest of the way. On the other hand, he took several steps forward from where he was in 2014. He improved his walk rate significantly and cut his strikeout rate some despite jumping up in competition. The power was inconsistent, but he flashed it and showed what he is capable of and in a league that suppresses power in big ways.

If Ervin is able to stick in center field, his value will likely be quite a bit higher. If he has to move to a corner the value will take a hit, but there could still be plenty of value with good defense, power and a potential for 20 steals. Just how much his hit tool develops will be key, but all of the parts are there for him to put that side of things together.

Spray Chart

To Total % 1B 2B 3B HR AVG SLG IsoP
P 11 2.9% 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
C 9 2.4% 1 0 0 0 .111 .111 .000
1B 21 5.6% 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
2B 45 12.1% 3 0 0 0 .067 .067 .000
3B 39 10.5% 2 1 0 0 .051 .077 .026
SS 55 14.7% 6 0 0 0 .109 .109 .000
LF 79 21.2% 21 15 0 13 .628 1.321 .692
CF 61 16.4% 24 3 1 1 .491 .596 .105
RF 53 14.2% 21 2 3 0 .451 .490 .039

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14 Responses

  1. AlphaZero

    Ervin is an interesting prospect. In total, his numbers were far from eye popping, but as you mentioned, the plate discipline was outstanding and he played in some tough offensive environments. He also has pretty good wheels and can play all over the OF if necessary.

    He still has a chance to break out because of the solid peripherals and decent power potential, but for the moment, he looks like a solid 4th OF type. Hopefully he can put it all together next year because he seems to have a pretty nice all around game.

    • Gaffer

      In Ervin and YRod we have the Chris Heisey RH 4th outfielder covered. Now, we just need 3 starters and we will be in good shape!

      • James Walker

        And what became of all the real OF prospects between Heisey and these two? :)

        IMO, unless Hamilton gets over the hump, the last legit MLB OF this org has produced is Stubbs and even hen is kind of fringy.

    • MK

      The dreaded peripherals. I have decided to put a quarter in a jar this year every time they are mentioned.

      • Doug Gray

        Stock up on quarters this winter, MK. I like to talk about them lol.

      • MK

        That is why they are dreaded,.

        Stats agents use to get raises for player who have lousy performances.

      • Doug Gray

        That only works if one side can prove their data is correct. Good peripherals tend to lead to good production, just like bad ones lead to bad production. In one season – who knows how things bounce, but in the long run, those peripherals tend to work out well at predicting how a player is going to produce.

      • MK

        Only time yu hear about them is when production stinks.

        Give me 5 bloop singles to 10 Lin drivevouts anytime.

      • Doug Gray

        5 bloop singles aren’t repeatable. Those 10 line drive outs are going to turn into 7 hits moving forward.

        Yes, I’d rather have 5 hits than 5 outs…. but eventually the guy hitting the line drives is going o do better than the guy hitting bloopers, even if he didn’t do so in a given time period.

      • AlphaZero

        You’re right that in the end, results are all that matter at the MLB level. And if the outcome is a known quantity, you’ll always take the bloop single over the line drive out of course. If the choice is between a $5 million winning lottery ticket and a good paying, steady career, I think we’ll all take the lottery ticket.

        However, reality is more complicated than that. We don’t know if that lottery ticket will be a winner at the point of sale, so the steady career is the surer and more likely path to a comfortable life. Likewise, a line drive has a much higher probability of becoming a base hit than a looping pop fly. So when projecting future performance, things like K rate, BB rate, LD rate, etc. are all important player evaluation tools. We are talking about prospects here, so this is all very relevant.

  2. sultan of swaff

    I would think by now that the baseball powers that be would want to make the Florida State ballparks more neutral so there’s not all this handicapping of statistics from there. Doug, does the issue go beyond ballparks? Could be the heat I suppose, but the travel sure is easy.

  3. The Duke

    I’m a little more bullish on Ervin than YRod because of the better contact rate, better walk rate, more usable power shown, and more if a history of hitting. I’d have to imagine that the Reds know about his pull happy splits and are working with him on that.

    I know he doesn’t profile as a great CF, but I think he can be more than adequate I a smaller OF like GABP. Even if he only hits .250, if he can maintain his strong walk rates, it’d be a major upgrade in the leadoff position.

    • AlphaZero

      YRod and Ervin seem to be pretty interchangeable at this point. I think YRod has the higher ceiling because of defense and tools, but Ervin is the safer bet due to plate discipline and contact ability.

      I prefer Ervin, but I can see the case for either. It would be very nice if one of the two can turn it on next year and join Winker as a regular in the Reds’ OF in 2017.

    • Jasonp

      I am surprised every time I go and check on current baseball’s batting average. Like The Duke says if he only hits .250. That seems low and something that seems like a big weakness or something below average. Then I look at the stats this last year of all MLB players and they average just .254 total. American league did .255 and the National league hit .253.

      So I am 36 and for most of my life that would be a bad average but today it seems like it actually is average. So I think I need to start adjusting my opinion on what a lower batting average means and how exceptional a high batting average is now. I am just not sure what .250 would be equal to the averages I grew up with. Is it like hitting .260 15-20 years ago? Or even 6 years ago. Or is it even higher then that. It just seems so strange that things changed so quickly. Lower batting averages and less home runs.