Is Phillip Evans This Good?

Seemingly each and every year there is one player who takes advantage of his opportunity to impress his club in Spring Training.  The classic examples for Mets fans are Butch Huskey and Benny Agbayani.  This year it seems as if that honor is going to Phillip Evans, who has looked like Mike Schmidt during Spring Training.

So far this Spring, he has made a number of highlight plays at third base.  In five games this Spring, he has hit two home runs.  This is causing fans to take notice of Evans and wonder who he is.

Evans was the Mets 2011 15th Round Draft Pick out of La Costa Canyone High School in Carlsbad, CA.  While the round he was drafted would suggest Evans wasn’t a highly thought of prospect, the signing bonus would differ.  Evans received a $650,000 signing bonus which was the equivalent of either supplemental first round or second round money.  Evans draft stock had dropped mostly because Evans had committed to play for San Diego State, which was in the backyard of his hometown.

This is now Evans’ seventh year in the Mets organization.  For much of the first five, it was an uneasy development process.  Up until last season, Evans was just a .236/.304/.310 hitter.  While he was drafted as a shortstop, the 5’9″ Evans would no longer be a shortstop in the Mets farm system by 2015.  Certainly, entering the 2016 season, you could argue his star had diminished.

Evans turned things around in 2016.  In 96 games for the Binghamton Mets, he hit .335/.374/.485 en route to winning the Eastern League batting title.  He did that while playing well defensively at both second and third base.  He also managed to play a respectable shortstop in his limited opportunities there as well.

Typically, when you are coming off a promising season like that, you get protected in the Rule 5 Draft.  Unfortunately for Evans, he is in a Mets farm system stacked with middle infield prospects, and some of those prospects, like Amed Rosario, needed to be added to the 40 man roster.  This caused many to speculate Evans would be taken by another team in the Rule 5 Draft.

Somewhat surprisingly, Evans wasn’t.

According to Mets Minors, Evans is the 31st best prospect in the Mets farm system.  While some believe in his bat, others point to his extraordinarily high .384 BABIP, his low 4.9% walk rate, his general lack of power, and his propensity to pull the ball.  However, if Evans is able to replicate his 2016 season, and he continues to build off his success from Spring Training, he will start turning some of those doubters into believers.  Time will tell.

For now, Evans is getting noticed in Spring Training, and that can only help his prospects of making it to the major leagues.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online