Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No 3

Cincinnati selected Samford outfielder Phillip Ervin with their first choice in last year's draft and he immediately scorched Pioneer League pitching to earn a quick promotion to single A. He's back for some more time at Dayton to start this season and Dragon fans had better enjoy him while they can before he earns another promotion.

In the 2011/2012 drafts Cincinnati invested their top draft choices on high school pitchers. However, they bucked that mini-trend last year by selecting college hitter Phil Ervin with the 27th overall pick. Ervin was a centerfielder at Samford University that projects as a good all-around player and thus far in his brief minor league career he's lived up to that billing.

He debuted at Billings after the draft, but it didn't take him long to show that he was ready for a higher level after slashing .326 AVG/.416 OB/.597 with nine homers in 34 games. That got him an early promotion to Dayton where he didn't slow down, hitting .349 AVG/.451 OB/.465 SLG. He only played in a dozen games with the Dragons so he's started out this year by returning to the Midwest League.

Ervin stands 5'11"/190# and bats/throws right-handed. He'll turn 22 years old in July and based upon what he's shown thus far it appears he'll continue putting up video games numbers until he reaches a higher level. There are a couple of advantages to drafting college players, first of all they're often easier to sign and the Reds inked Ervin right at slot value. Of course they are also arrive with more experience and are candidates for fast tracks up the system.

Ervin showed that he can swipe a base too and was successful on fourteen of fifteen attempts. He had great discipline at the plate and a walk total (25) that was almost as high as his strikeouts (34) and provided the nice AVG/OB differential. He hasn't had time to put up a lot of numbers, but so far all them he has have been very good. That doesn't stop at the plate because he's shown good range in the outfield too. He played in right for most of his stop at Billings, but once he was moved to center he ran down over two and a half putouts per game so that's where he remained after the promotion.

His selection spot was in line with what a lot of analysts expected before the draft. Oddly enough the native Alabaman ended up at Samford because of lack of interest in the two SEC schools in his home state. That turned out to be a bad call for Alabama and Auburn because he was drafted higher than players from either one of those schools. Actually he might not have gone to college at all, but he was a two-sport star in high school and a torn ACL from football probably prevented him from being picked by an MLB team three years earlier.

Currently there's some uncertainty in a couple of the Reds outfield spots and rookie Billy Hamilton is trying to nail one down now. The skill set that Ervin has may have him knocking on the door in the near future. A player jumping from low-A all the way to AA in one season doesn't happen very often but it took Ervin only 34 games to punch his ticket out of the Rookie Leagues last year and it shouldn't take much longer for him to make it to Bakersfield this season. The previous couple of Cincinnati first round position players selections ended up in a trade package to bring in veteran help for their pitching rotation but don't expect a similar fate for Ervin.


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