The 2015 season was a bit of a rebound for Phillip Ervin, even though it may have been hidden somewhat by the league he was playing in.

After a fantastic debut in the 2013 season when he was drafted 27th overall in the 1st round, hitting .331/.425/.564 that season with 25 walks and 34 strikeouts, things went about as poorly as they could in 2014. The outfielder hit .237/.305/.376 with 46 walks and 110 strikeouts in 561 plate appearances for the Dayton Dragons.

Part of that could be blamed on offseason wrist surgery (an injury that cost him the final few weeks of the 2013 campaign), but it was also a bit of a mental hurdle he struggled with. After a slow start, Ervin noted that he knew he was struggling and was pressing, trying to get everything back in one swing. It led to poor pitch selection for most of the season and ultimately, as expected when you swing at poor pitches, struggles to hit.

Things got out to about as great of a start as can be expected in the month of April. The outfielder was sent to the Florida State League to play for the new affiliate in the chain, the Daytona Tortugas. Ervin hit .346/.429/.692 with six doubles and seven home runs. His OPS on the month was an incredible 1.121 in a league where the average OPS was .650.

He showed big time power in the month and more importantly, he seemed to resemble the guy the Cincinnati Reds drafted in 2013 who was patient at the plate, drew walks and made contact. He walked 12 times and struck out 16 times in 91 plate appearances.

The power tailed off in the following months, going from a .346 isolated power in April to posting an isolated power the rest of the season of just .095. While the power did tail off the plate discipline remained strong. He walked 54 times and struck out just 82 times in 450 plate appearances.

Overall on the season he hit .241/.346/.379. On the surface that simply doesn’t look all that good. Most of that came in the Florida State League though. He led that league in home runs when he was promoted to Double-A in August. The average on-base percentage of the league was just .313 and the average slugging was just just .337.

With the step taken forward for Ervin, it was nice to see, but there are still parts of his game that he could improve upon. He’s very pull-centric when it comes to hitting for power. Since being drafted all 30 of his home runs have been hit to left or left-center. Of his 35 extra-base hits only one of them was to right field, a bloop double. One double went to right-center. The other 33 extra-base hits went to dead center, left-center or left field. He can and does go the other way, but he simply doesn’t hit for power when he goes the other way at this point.

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24 Responses

  1. Michael Smith

    Doug do you think he is progressing enough to a point that we will see him on the mlb team in a couple of years?

    • Doug Gray

      I think so. He will be starting the 2016 season in Double-A. That’s a call away from the big leagues for someone playing well.

      • Lord Oracle (@LordOracle22)

        i agree he has so many raw tools. good article his numbers on surface dont look great but when u look deeper they are actually pretty good. probably my favorite prospect he just seems like the forgotten guy when people talk about reds prospects even tho hes one the more high profile guys in the system

  2. RFM

    Despite his low batting average he’s one of a few guys, along with Winker and Blandino, with pretty good plate discipline. I’d rather have a prospect who’s able to get on base than one who merely provides an empty batting average. I’m excited to see how Ervin does in the Arizona Fall League, and next year in Pensacola. It’ll be interesting to see what position he ends up playing, after spending much of this year in LF.

    • Lord Oracle (@LordOracle22)

      no question i have thought his numbers dont tell the whole story no matter where hes been his obp is usually 100 points give or take above his avg. there is no doubt he is the forgotten prospect that could potentially be a game changer in the not so distant future

  3. WVRedlegs

    The Reds need Ervin’s development to speed up a little. This was good to see.
    The AFL is going to be very interesting this fall. It will be a good measuring stick for Ervin and Blandino. It is a good opportunity for them to take the next step. But the one I’m really interested in to see in the AFL is the Johnson fellow the Reds got from SF in the Marlon Byrd trade. Lets see if he can harness that 99-100 mph fastball and not walk 4+ per 9 IP.

  4. wkuchad

    Unrelated comment:

    FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Reds are considering bringing back Bryan Price as manager for 2016.

    The last-place Reds are limping to the finish line, with nine straight losses, so Rosenthal notes that things could still change. Barry Larkin has long been rumored as a potential replacement. However, the feeling is that Price isn’t fully to blame, as the team has dealt with a number of injuries while trading some key pieces. If he is retained, the team could change a number of his coaches. Pitching coach Jeff Pico could be most vulnerable. Price is under contract through 2016.

    Source: FOX Sports

    This can’t be true – I hope. A change in manager is a must for next year.

    • redsfan06

      I don’t think the current GM should select another manager. Wait until a new GM is hired and let him decide who is going to manage the team.

      • lwblogger2

        I tend to agree with this. Of course there’s a very good chance that WJ will still be GM next year.

      • wkuchad

        If we’re getting a new GM, I certainly agree, which is why i saw no need to fire Price mid-season. But new GM or not, Price needs to go.

    • RFM

      With the Reds’ best hope for internal improvement being in the pitching staff… particularly young pitchers already in the organization, they should stick with the guy who works best with young pitchers. That’s probably Price. Give Price another year to work with all these young pitchers. Replace him before 2017, when the outlook is better.

      Firing him because of the performance of a team that lost Bailey and Mesoraco to injuries all year, and for the losing streaks after Cueto, Leake, and Byrd were traded, is silly. Nobody would’ve managed this team to great success.

      Again, top priority is the continued development of the young pitchers, which is seemingly Bryan Price’s area of expertise.

      • jessecuster44

        I put a lot of weight (perhaps overly so) on what I see on the field and in public. From his 77 F-Bomb tirade, his stubborn, role-based use of the bullpen, his insistence on the sac bunt, and his overuse of veteran position players at a time when the youngsters need to get a shot, he should not be retained.

        The object is to win baseball games, and when you’ve presided over three 9 game losing streaks in one season? Yikes.

        At best, Price is an inexperienced manager who has a lot of catching up to do with the modern game. At worst, he’s a buffoon who will always be out of his depth.

        Say goodbye to Price and sign Jack McKeon to a one-year deal. That would make too much sense.

      • lwblogger2

        I don’t think old “Trader Jack” would feel up to managing in the big leagues again.

      • jessecuster44

        probably not, but it never hurts to ask. He’d be good for a year, then step aside for a more progressive manager.

      • CP

        I know when I think of managers up-to-date with the modern game, I think of Jack McKeon.

      • RFM

        I guess I never cared about his F-bomb tirade. One outburst in a couple of years. Didn’t hurt anyone.

        “Stubborn, role-based use of the bullpen”. It’d call that pretty typical usage of a terrible bullpen. The difference between the terrible 2015 bullpen and the high quality bullpens in previous recent seasons was merely the quality of players, not the roles. So, pass. He did what worked for previous Reds teams, with worse assets, and therefore worse results. Who cares? Not me.

        “Overuse of veteran players at a time when youngsters need to get a shot”. That’s a great talking point. Maybe you missed the fact that the team has very few young position players. Billy Hamilton, Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart, and Ramon Cabrera are the only healthy guys at or below age 25. Oh yeah, and Hamilton had surgery today. Yorman Rodriguez and Steve Selsky are on the DL. Kyle Waldrop was terrible in AAA. Adam Duvall is terrible. I’ve seen Bryan Price play Hamilton, Suarez, and Barnhart about as much as he could. Price hasn’t played other young position players because, well, there aren’t any. You can only play what you have. Choosing not to play youngsters and not having youngsters to play are very different (personally I’d be playing an outfield of Duvall, Holt, and Bruce, but I’d fully expect people to call for me to be fired for playing a couple of light-hitting 26 year old AAAA players). If you think they should’ve promoted Jesse Winker to give Price a young player, well, that’s not Price’s choice. The pitching staff is, however, loaded with rookie pitchers, whose experience has only been limited by injury precautions, not veterans. Price has given 40+ consecutive starts to rookies, now. I call that “giving youngsters a shot”.

        “The object is to win baseball games”. When your team trades Latos, Simon, Cueto, Leake, Byrd, and others (with a high likelihood of Chapman and Bruce being traded this offseason) for prospect I’d argue that the object is to rebuild for future success. The Reds call it a “re-tool”, which is just another name. The object during a rebuild is to take the young players and turn them into something. So far so good with DeSclafani, Iglesias, Suarez, and Barnhart. Rebuilds are typically associated with a bad season or two, and a top draft pick. Currently we’re looking at the #2 overall pick for the Reds.

        I think you place some pretty unreasonable expectations on Price, it’s as though you believe that being more progressive would’ve covered over roster problems, and somehow prevented a rebuild. If you’re looking for a replacement who is up-to-date with the modern game I sure hope you’re not looking at 1986-2004 Reds star Barry Larkin. The Reds are where they are, and they need someone to navigate them through it. Most importantly someone who can turn their assets – mostly in the form of young pitchers – into successful major leaguers.

      • jessecuster44

        Appreciate the response.

        Why run Skip Schumaker out there every day when there are young options in the OF? That’s my biggest problem. Much has been said about the lack of talent, but I’d rather see players who might improve at this point rather than player who will only regress.

        Sorry, but no matter your goal, THREE 9 game losing streaks, the last of which is yet to end (and where the Reds haven’t been close to winning any) – gives me no confidence in Price.

        I am not looking for Barry Larkin. I am looking for a one-year stopgap who can maintain the development with the young pitchers, while also managing a lineup and being competitive in games.Then after that? A Joe Maddon-type.

        The Reds might bring Price back because he’s good with the young pitchers and because he’s under contract. I just think this team gets better quicker without him.

      • WVRedlegs

        Where do you find those “Joe Maddon types”???
        They are fresh out at the MLB manager unemployment line.
        The Reds need to find the next Kevin Cash, Maddon’s successor in TB.

      • jessecuster44

        I’d start looking near Joe Maddon.

    • Doug Gray

      In terms of a must for next year, a new manager is pretty far down the list, isn’t it? Let’s be honest: Joe Maddon couldn’t have won with this team. They simply don’t have the horses. Do I think Bryan Price is a good manager? Not really, no. But like every team, it’s about the players and not really about the manager. The manager makes a difference on the margins. The players make the difference overall and the Reds simply don’t have enough players that are good. The top of the roster is fine. The bottom 15 players on the roster, or in September, the bottom 25, simply stinks.

      The Reds need better players far more than they need a new manager or coaches. Keeping Price around might actually allow them to add a good player or two, depending on how much money Bryan Price actually makes (the details aren’t exactly available – but let’s assume it’s in the $1.5-3M range – that can get you two bench/bullpen guys and if you pick the right ones, you can get actual production from them).

      • jessecuster44

        “If you pick the right ones…” Walt has not had a good track record for bargain bench pieces.

  5. lwblogger2

    It’s a tough call on Ervin. He has a lot of potential but it’s hard to tell where his skillset falls without seeing him in person. I’ve seen some video but haven’t seen him play. I really appreciate Doug’s insight in these sort of things and also Dan’s MiLB analysis. I don’t watch a lot of MiLB and reports like these on Reds’ prospects have a lot of value to me.

    It will be interesting to see how Ervin does against some good players in the Arizona Fall League.

    • CP

      Ervin is difficult for the reasons Doug posted (injury + league), but he reminds me of a good 4th OF-type. It would be disappointing but I guess not the end of the world. The Reds have really needed a strong 4th OF type.

      • ed koverman

        I think they need 3 starting OFs