After a solid, but unspectacular season in 2016 with Pensacola, the Reds promoted Phillip Ervin to Triple-A. The outfielder started out the season with a 4-game hitting streak. That came with three walks along the way and stealing two bases. After going 0-3 on the 10th to end his hitting streak, he would put together a nice stretch over the next eight games, hitting .310 with three home runs and three doubles. Ervin would be promoted to the Major Leagues and make his debut on the 22nd as a pinch hitter. He would go 0-2 with a walk over three games – all in a reserve role, before being sent back to Louisville to finish out the month. Between the two stops he performed well, hitting .269/.329/.507 in 74 plate appearances.

May began with a massive slump for Phillip Ervin. He had just two games in which he had a hit over the first nine games played. That stretch spanned the first two weeks of the month. He hit just .061 over 35 plate appearances. While things improved in the second half of the month, they still didn’t go well. Ervin went 13-52 (.250) with four walks and just two extra-base hits. It was a very tough month as he hit just .176/.231/.200 on the month with six walks and 26 strikeouts in 92 plate appearances.

The first week of June followed the trend set in May for Phillip Ervin. The outfielder went 4-23 (.174) with just one extra-base hit. The next week things began to pick up. While he hit just .227, he walked six times with just two strikeouts and made his hits count as he slugged .409. The third week was another step forward for Ervin. He hit .391/.462/.478 in seven games played. The final week of June was a bit of a slump as he went just 4-20 (.200). Consistency was an issue, but he rebounded some from May, hitting .250/.359/.341 with 14 walks and 18 strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. He would also steal eight bases during the month.

July got out to a torrid start for Phillip Ervin. In the first week he went 11-26 with five extra base hits. In the second week he didn’t have any extra-base hits, but did go 5-14 (.357). The third week was more of the game. Ervin hit .310 and added in three extra-base hits in his seven games played. The final week of July was a bit of a slow down for the outfielder, who hit just .133 in 30 at-bats. Overall, the month was another step forward as Ervin hit .293/.352/.444 in 110 plate appearances with eight walks and 18 strikeouts. He also added another eight stolen bases.

August began with Phillip Ervin being called up to the Major Leagues. He spent a week on the bench, not playing before returning to Triple-A. Over the next week he hit .346 with four walks. He was then recalled to the Majors and saw actual playing time. Ervin entered the game on the 16th against the Cubs mid-way through and went 1-2 with his first Major League hit, a solo home run. He started the next day and went 3-4 with a double, walk and another home run while driving in four. After two pinch hit appearances, he wouldn’t play again for several days before being optioned back to the minors. Before playing, he returned to the Major Leagues. He would go 1-5 in his three games with the Reds to finish the month. In limited action between Triple-A and with the Reds he hit .385/.455/.667 over 45 plate appearances.

From the start of September through the 9th, Phillip Ervin would have a 6-game hitting streak, racking up a hit in each game. He would go into a slump the rest of the season as hit playing time dried up, going just 3-25 in the final three weeks of the year.

For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Phillip Ervin Spray Chart

*this is only for the minor leagues*

Phillip Ervin Scouting Report

Hitting | Ever since he was drafted, Phillip Ervin has been a big time pull-oriented hitter. That changed in 2017 as he worked to go the other way and actually hit the ball to right field more than left. It did help him have the highest average he’s had since 2013, but he still struggled to hit for average. At this point his hit tool is below-average despite a solid contact rate.

Power | While his slugging percentage has been low for most of his career, it’s been more because his average has been low than a lack of pop. He’s got average power in his bat.

Running | Phillip Ervin show off above-average to plus speed. He uses his speed well on the bases.

Arm | He shows an average arm that plays fine in left or in center, but would be below-average for a typical right fielder.

Defense | Phillip Ervin is an above-average defender thanks to his above-average to plus speed. The issue arises in that he’s below-average in center field, which is where his bat would play the best.

Phillip Ervin hasn’t exactly been beating the door down to the Major Leagues. He’s held his own each step of the way at the plate. Ervin has used solid power and a good ability to walk and steal bases to make up for a low batting average. Defensively, he’s capable of handling center field. But he would be towards the bottom in terms of defense among the capable starting caliber players in the Major Leagues. In the corners his bat simply doesn’t play as well.

While it’s probably a year too early to say that his future is very likely to be that of a 4th outfielder, that’s where things are looking towards right now. He simply hasn’t shown enough with the bat to make up for the center field defense he would provide to start every day in most scenarios. In the corners the bat just isn’t enough right now even with the good defense he would provide. With that said, he looks like an ideal backup outfielder right now. There’s some pop in his bat, he can cover you in all three spots in the outfield and he’s a strong baserunner.

30 Responses

  1. Simon Cowell

    At this point I’d take Ervin over Hamilton for my center fielder.

  2. Shamrock

    Just a quick reminder:
    A lot of 1st round draft picks in MLB never even reach the majors. On this note, Phillip is already a success.

  3. Bill

    I would like to see the Reds upgrade at CF not simply replace Hamilton. A below average bat coupled with below average fielding will not produce better than a well below average bat and elite fielding and baserunning. If Ervin and Hamilton are our only choices, the Reds need to bat Hamilton at the bottom of the order an minimize his offensive liabilities.

  4. jim t

    Heard on WLW this morning that the Giants have shown interest in both Duvall and Hamilton.

    • bred

      Maybe we they would pay most of Cueto’s contract and give him back to Reds, and we give them both Hamilton and Duvall. I know that won’t happen, but a nice dream at least for me.

    • CP

      Could be something worth exploring. Not sure if the Giants have enough in the minor leagues worth getting back though….

    • wes

      duvall and homer for cuato? cuato makes 20 mil + for 2 more seasons longer than homer….

      • victor vollhardt

        When he was with the Reds–I wanted to keep Cueto and build the future staff around him -whatever the cost -he is smart ( Knows how to pitch and how to pace himself in a game)and keeps himself in condition and is a great role model how how to take care of yourself between starts. He could hit a little and was a very good bunter. Took the ball every turn and he is still doing all of that. Towards the middle part of his stay in KC–I believe he hurt his arm and just kept going and played through it . With the Giants at the start of last season (after a winter’s rest of not pitching –he started well, but the same issue (whatever it is) resurfaced and he struggled through. Maybe he feels pressure of the big contract and just keeps pushing himself. He did not exercise his op-out clause because of the issue. While I still love his way of doing business–it would be folly to get him back–he is going to break down completely. I think the Giants know this and would even put in part of his salary and take lesser prospect if they could get someone to take the deal, but he can can no longer pitch the way he used to. It hurts to look at this way as he was a great player.

  5. The Duke

    I still think Ervin can be more than a 4th OF. He may end up one, but I still see the upside with that kind of contact rate. I believe it’s easier to learn how to make better contact than it is to increase your contact rate and plate discipline. Like Peraza, if he can hit better balls, it’s going to lead to better results and harder hits. I’d at least like to see him get a legit shot.

    • Shamrock

      Let’s assume for a minute that Winker will be taking over out in Left.
      Would you like to see Erin’s “legit shot” come as our starting centerfielder (where his D is well below average)?
      Or would you prefer to see him take over in Right, where his arm strength will be an issue??

      • Stock

        Doesn’t that depend upon who is traded and whom is traded for?

        I agree with Duke in that I think his bat could play in left and without a doubt in CF. I also think Hamilton gets a bum rap on this site after a down year. His WAR in 2016 was 3.1. 12th best among CF and ahead of Marcel Ozuna. It sounds like they will trade him (probably because they realize 2019 is a much more likely breakout year).

        If the Reds trade Hamilton and Duvall, I have no problem sliding in Winker and Ervin into my OF for 2018. Maybe Siri or Trammell will be ready in 2019 which is what I think the Reds should target as their breakout year although 2020 is probably more realistic.

    • MK

      If Kirby Puckett could play center field defensively on a championship team then Phillip Ervin can play there and be better. Again I am talking defense in comparisons to Puckett.

  6. Krozley

    I like Ervin’s potential as a 4th outfielder in sort of a better all around version of Chris Heisey. I think he still needs polishing, so barring a trade or injury to one of the current four outfielders, he should be in Louisville playing everyday instead of rotting on Price’s bench as the 5th OF.

  7. Norwood Nate

    Short of moving Hamilton, I’d like to see a platoon of he and Ervin in CF. Hamilton needed to give up switch hitting a long time ago as his splits are drastic. As a RH hitter that can play CF capably he offers a solid platoon option.

  8. sultanofswaff

    All this talk about trading with the Marlins, but there’s so many other options to fix CF.
    The Red Sox are making Jackie Bradley Jr. available. The Reds would seem to match up quite well as Boston is looking for a power bat in the corner OF. Duvall or Schebler seem like a good fit, but Boston’s sights are probably set higher so we would need to chip in another player to make it work. If we’re matching up WAR, adding Hamilton gets you there, but I’d be open to moving a Mahle/Finnegan/Romano instead.

    • Shawn

      Unless you think Bradley is a better than last years stats suggest I’m not sure he would be an upgrade. Average about the same. Has more power but only stole about 7 bases

      • Doug Gray

        Bradley would be an upgrade, even if he’s just the guy he was last year. But, he’s not a difference maker unless he returns to 2016 form. The good thing is, though, he’s shown that in the past. I’m not sure I’d expect him to return to that guy, but I do think he’s certainly an upgrade over Hamilton because he can actually hit the baseball.

      • Shawn

        Doug, he hit .245 with a .323 OBP. 8 for 11 stealing bases. He did have 17 HRs. Not sure that’s much of an upgrade over Hamilton

      • redleggingfordayz

        Bradley is an above average defensive center fielder so the Reds wouldn’t have to worry about losing too much up the middle. On top of that, look at Bradley’s 2015 and 2016 seasons. He would have a ton of upside as he had an OPS+ > 118 in back to back seasons while playing good defense. I would take a bet on Bradley coming back to previous form vs watching Billy be the one of the worst hitters in MLB at the top of our order(OPS+ over the last 3 years is 66, 77, 55) every game.

  9. redleggingfordayz

    Sounds like the Red Sox are putting Michael Bradley Jr up on the trade block. I would be very interested if I were the Reds. Not sure what kind of return they are looking for since they are dealing from an area of depth with Benintendi. Possibly Duvall would interest them to add some power to that lineup? Or Schebler? I think either of them would need to be packaged with a young prospect or starter since the RS probably want to add some depth to their farm after all the trades they have made. Ervin is a confirmed 4th outfielder at this point for me.

  10. Shawn

    I like the idea of teading for Clint Frazier to play CF. Doug don’t think he can play CF and he might be right, but MLB says he is a capable CFer with good speed. I’m not pretending to know but Would be a good bat if he can play there

    • Doug Gray

      Let’s be clear: Doug said that he has played 19 total games in center since the start of 2016, which makes it unlikely that he can actually do it. I’d just imagine if he could actually handle center, even a little bit, he would have played there in Triple-A over the likes of Mason Williams and Jake Cave.

  11. terry m

    I still think Billy H is going to Texas and then the Reds make a pitch for Bradley..

    • redleggingfordayz

      Lets hope Texas over the Giants, because the SF farm system is truly an abomination. Not that I expect a ton back in a deal involving Billy, but I would at least like something of value.

  12. Michael B. Green

    Wonder if TAM would part with Souza. He is a first-year arbitration player and tailed off badly in the second half of 2017 but appears to fit the RF position from a defensive standpoint. Trading Duvall – who is not yet arbitration eligible – might interest them or perhaps Aquino would entice them as well – although they have Justin Williams waiting in the wings.

    This would still not open up a spot for Schebler and I’m already penciling in Winker where he belongs – LF.

    Schebler would get exploited as and everyday CF but perhaps Ervin and he could form a bottom division platoon at CF. That would need to change in 2019 though when CIN is ready to contend.

    Should serve as a very interesting winter for CIN. I think we’ll make more deals than last year. Hoping we sign a nice veteran reliever like Joe Smith or Tommy Hunter.

  13. redleggingfordayz

    Just to add another idea to the mix. The Reds could also look at platooning two players in CF for a couple years until the next wave of prospects reach. This saves the farm and still keeps you competitive, while also improving the team. I thought maybe they could do a Jon Jay/Austin Jackson platoon and still receive a lot of value at the position. Neither are phenomenal, but together they could be a 3 win player with average defense. Total cost around 8-12 mil annually for both for 2 years? Then Trammell, Siri, and others are hopefully ready. Not ideal, but I could see it happening if they really are ready to move on from Billy, but not wanting to give up the depth we have in prospects.

  14. Shamrock

    I still say you hold on to Billy and just bat him 9th.
    I mean, how often do we see a pitcher end an inning anyway? (Very)
    You get to keep (one of) the best defensive players in all of baseball, plus it’ll be like having yet another leadoff hitter with tantalizing speed at the very bottom of the order…….


    • victor vollhardt

      To Shamrock: Good idea and one that I have been plugging(some on this site) for some time. Also Hamilton’s defense makes the pitchers better. ——Another comment Ozuna–is a Boras client —-and in the past Mr. Gray says this can’t happen, but I believe the Reds organization stays very far away from Scott Boras’ clients.

    • CP

      Unless the Reds can get a value pickup to upgrade over Billy I agree with this. Also gives Billy a shot at still fulfilling some of his offensive upside. If he can keep working with Votto and just get that obp up to league average, he becomes a really valuable player…