Draft : : Prospect Scouting Reports
Monday, April 08, 2013

Draft Focus: Phillip Ervin

Frankie Piliere        
Every weekday leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Phillip Ervin Perfect Game profile

Position:  OF
Height:  5-10
Weight:  205
Bats/Throws:  R-R
Birthdate:  July 15, 1992
College:  Samford
Hometown:  Leroy, Ala.
Previously Drafted:  Never drafted
Projected Draft Round:  1-1S

Phil Ervin wasn’t just a revelation early last summer - he was an eruption. Sure, scouts were aware of Ervin and the type of tools he had, but in a matter of about two weeks he forcefully announced himself as a first round talent for the 2013 draft. It sounds strange to be able to pin down the emergence of an elite prospect to one specific period of time, but it happened for Ervin. For those two weeks, he was the king of the Cape Cod League and summer collegiate league baseball. Of course, he brings much more to the party than just a two week white hot streak, but it’s stretches like these that stick in people’s minds for a long time.

So, just how hot was Ervin in those last weeks of June in 2012? Over his first 14 games, with the Harwich Mariners, he hit .365 with a .450 on-base percentage, swatting eight home runs in the process. The barrage of home runs, despite the juiced ball issue that hung over the Cape last summer, is a staggering accomplishment over such a short span in a wood bat league. It was this stretch that gave scouts a taste of the type of offensive explosion Ervin was capable of.

In all fairness to the 5-foot-10, 205 pound outfielder, he did not come completely out of nowhere last summer. He was a freshman All-American for Samford in 2011, leading the team with a .371 batting average. He followed that up with a solid sophomore campaign, hitting .327 and slugging ten home runs in 64 games as Samford’s center fielder. But, given that Samford doesn’t have the historical reputation that some of the other colleges might have in that part of the country, it may have taken a big performance against premium competition for Ervin to put himself squarely on the map.

And, put himself on the map he did. Although Ervin cooled down a bit following that blistering two week stretch to open last summer, he continued to put up numbers and went on to earn Most Valuable Player honors in the Cape Cod League. Given that he played on the same team as two other likely first rounders in Eric Jagielo and Austin Wilson, him taking home that trophy speaks volumes. It was a rounded performance from Ervin, as he finished with a .323 average, 11 home runs and ten stolen bases.

It was a combination of present strength, athleticism, speed, and a compact swing that put Ervin so high on scouts’ follow lists as the summer came to a close. His swing remained consistent throughout the summer, as he showed an ability to sit on his back leg and drive the ball with his strong lower half. He also does an excellent job of staying inside the ball and showed some power to the opposite field gap. And, then of course there’s Ervin’s bat speed, which is among the best I’ve scouted in the 2013 draft class. He’s incredibly difficult to beat with a fastball on the inner third of the plate, and consistently had aggressive passes against the best velocity the league had to offer.

Ervin matches up well with the elite pitching, and that’s what gave him a chance to shine on the Cape. The tough right-handers of the league like Michael Wagner didn’t seem to be a big problem for him. He struck out 29 times in 130 at-bats, so the strikeouts are part of his game. But, over sixty players struck out 30 or more times on the Cape last summer, and Eric Jagielo struck out 51 times. If anything, I’d expect the strikeouts to become less of an issue as Ervin continues to learn the strike zone. He lets pitches track deep, and shows the approach to evolve into more of a contact oriented hitter.

There were times last summer when Ervin reminded me of Ian Kinsler as an offensive player. The positions are obviously different, but the offensive similarities jumped out at times. Both players love to lean on the back leg and hunt the fastball inside, and have the quick wrists to pull it off. They also have the speed to complement the rest of their games. Ervin probably won’t swipe 30 bases in the big leagues like Kinsler has, but 20 is not out of reach. And, the body types even have their similarities. Ervin is stockier, but both have stronger lower bodies that they use to their advantage.

Ervin has the approach, strength and bat speed to hit 30 home runs in the big leagues. Again, like Kinsler, it probably won’t be a yearly occurrence, but there’s a lot of juice in his right-handed swing. What we’re likely looking at as a long term profile is a .270 hitter capable of peppering the gaps and hitting 20-25 home runs a year as a defensive asset in right field. His stocky frame should eventually grow out of center field, but his plus arm should profile nicely in right. That type of skill set, with the help of a red hot spring thus far at Samford, should not last beyond the top 25 picks when June rolls around.

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