2011 MLB Draft Q&A: Phillip Evans

With some of the best defensive hands in the nation, Phillip Evans has garnered plenty of accolades in the baseball hotbed of southern California. We sat down with the shortstop to discuss his goals, his college commitment, and his thoughts on the upcoming draft.

I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2011 has to offer each Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.

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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are your height and weight still 5'10", 180 lbs?

Phillip Evans: Yes. 180 lbs on the dot.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you play any other sports besides baseball?

Phillip Evans: Before high school started I played football in middle school, and that was a lot of fun. It got me in shape for baseball, I think; kept me running, got me stronger. I enjoyed playing but I had to give it up once I got to high school.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it that you realized that you could do something with baseball?

Phillip Evans: I don't know, I just love playing baseball – it's my main sport for sure. I've just always had the mindset since I was a little kid that I wanted to be playing baseball for my whole life, and I'd do anything to accomplish that. I always have had the confidence that I would do something with baseball, so I can't really say when it actually started. I have just always had that one thought about succeeding, and I'm just going to stick with that and let things play out.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What led you to choose Dan Diego State over the other schools you were looking at?

Phillip Evans: Well, I like all their coaches and all the recruits that are coming in, but the main reason is their infield coach – I really like him a lot, he's a cool guy, knows a lot of stuff, and he'll teach me a lot. Plus Tony Gwynn is there, so he can help me a lot on the offensive side of things.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On the flip side, how much have you thought about the draft?

Phillip Evans: I know it's there, but I just try to focus on college right now. Anything can happen in the next couple of months, but I'm just sticking with what I have, which is a full ride to San Diego State. If things go right this season…man, I don't even know [laughs]…it would be a pretty cool thing to get drafted and play baseball for the rest of my life!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Whether it is out of San Diego State, or out of high school, what is the image you get in your mind when you allow yourself to dream of being a professional baseball player?

Phillip Evans: I think of people looking up to me, and just being associated with baseball; people know who I am because of baseball. I see myself helping other people along the way to get where they want to be, especially within baseball.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from so far?

Phillip Evans: Quite a few. We've had a couple of meetings with some teams, but nothing too serious. It was pretty cool; they're just trying to get to know me a little better off the field.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are the Yankees one of those teams?

Phillip Evans: I've talked to their scouts here and there, nothing serious, but the Yankees are definitely a solid team!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you get up to the plate, what is your main objective?

Phillip Evans: I take every at-bat as a new season, clear my mind, and have a quality at-bat every time. I'm usually hitting at the top of the order, so I'm just trying to get on base and help my team win. Whether it's by walking or driving a ball when I get a good pitch to hit, I don't try to do too much – just get on base. The homers will come, you know? I just worry about getting a good pitch and putting a good swing on it so it will carry.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So it sounds like you are focused on being a linedrive hitter more than anything right now?

Phillip Evans: Yeah, I just try to hit the gaps with hard linedrives, and have a couple carry a little more and sail out of the park. I can lay a bunt down if we need it, and I don't do it too much, but I can definitely bunt. Basically I'm focused on doing whatever I can to help my team win, you know?

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you use the opposite field much?

Phillip Evans: Yeah, if I get an outside pitch, which I definitely will this year, I go to right. I think I have some pretty good power to the opposite field, which is good to help get some extrabase hits.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is that something you have had to work on, or did it come more naturally?

Phillip Evans: It's come to me naturally my whole life, and I haven't had to work on it too much. I do drills in practice pretty frequently, but in game situations I'm not really thinking about it. If I get a pitch out there I'll just drive it that way; it comes pretty natural in the games.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You mentioned walking a little earlier – how selective are you up there?

Phillip Evans: Well, I try to get that one pitch, because you usually on get one good pitch per at-bat. With two strikes I'll change a little and just try to put a good swing on the ball, put it in play, and get on base, you know?

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So you don't have any problem with taking a walk?

Phillip Evans: Oh, no, no problem at al! It'll probably end up being a double or triple anyways after I steal second and third. [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What would you say is your best attribute as a hitter from a scouting standpoint?

Phillip Evans: I think it's the ability to stay within myself and not try to do too much; do things like put the ball on the ground when I need to. I've also got some pretty fast hands, and I think that's something scouts see when I'm at the plate. I'm a pretty small guy, but I have some pretty good power for my size, and that's from my batspeed.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do you hit in the lineup for your high school team?

Phillip Evans: I hit third. I've been hitting there since I was a freshman – I was pretty pumped about that!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: A lot of scouting reports point to your speed as something that you need to improve. They say you have great quickness, but not great speed. What role do those skills play in your game right now?

Phillip Evans: I don't think it holds me back at all. I'm not fast, but I'm quick – I might not have the best speed, but I do things like turn the bases quickly, and I think those are the most important things. So I cut corners, I slide, I read throws well, so I don't think it will affect me too much. I am definitely trying to work on my speed this season though, sprints and a lot of legwork, and hopefully by the summer I'll be a "fast kid". [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Defensively scouts just love your hands. What does that side of the ball mean to you?

Phillip Evans: Oh, it's a huge part. You don't always get a hit every time you go to the plate, so I'm always taking my defense as seriously as possible. If I don't get a hit I know I will make it up in the field because I'm pretty consistent out there. I love the infield, too. I love laying out, I love throwing people out at first from the cut; I just really enjoy it.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You play short now, but some reports speculate that maybe you will be a second baseman when you turn pro. What are your thoughts on that?

Phillip Evans: I don't think I have a problem with that, it's pretty much the same thing, being up the middle. I'd love to stay at shortstop, but if I got moved to second base I wouldn't have any problem. It's the same stuff, just on the other side of the diamond. [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What are you going to be playing at SDSU?

Phillip Evans: I'll be playing shortstop, so I'm pretty excited about that.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If someone was watching you play, what would they see in terms of your outward emotion on the field?

Phillip Evans: I try to control my emotions as best as I possibly can, but if I make a pretty good play or have a big hit in the clutch I get fired up about it. I think someone watching me play would see that I play the game hard, I'm a gamer, and I think that's how you have to do it.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In terms of the Majors, who are you a fan of? Dodgers? Angels? Padres?

Phillip Evans: I gotta go with the Giants, man. I love the Giants.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wait a second, I thought you were a SoCal guy?

Phillip Evans: Nah, I grew up in northern California; I lived there for ten years. I moved down to SoCal right before my freshman year, so I've always been a Giants fan. It was pretty cool when they won the World Series last season.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You must have been going crazy, no?

Phillip Evans: [laughs] Yeah, I was going nuts, man!

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On the subject of the Majors, who are the players that you look up to for their skills or the way they play the game?

Phillip Evans: I think I look up to Jimmy Rollins the most out of anybody in the Major Leagues. He's kind of my size, he plays the game the right way, plays hard, helps his team win, his defense is amazing with his hands and the way he reads runners down the line, and he's just a solid all-around player.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one skill from anyone else in your draft class, whose would it be and why?

Phillip Evans: It would probably be Travis Harrison's discipline at the plate. He's so patient, and he always puts a good swing on that one pitch you get in every at-bat.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who is the toughest pitcher you've faced so far?

Phillip Evans: I think it's probably Henry Owens, he's pretty solid. He's just crazy lanky, so the ball gets on you a bit. He's not too hard to hit, but he's probably the toughest pitcher I've had to hit all fall.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If Phil isn't on the baseball field you can find him…

Phillip Evans: …at the beach playing volleyball. [laughs]

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are you any good?

Phillip Evans: Yeah, I'm pretty solid. I just like getting some exercise at the beach, laying out in the sand, and relaxing.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What are you hoping for this year, both for your team, and also as an individual?

Phillip Evans: For my team I'd love to win a championship and get a high school ring this season, hopefully that can go down. I've been on varsity since my freshman year, and that season we got to the championship and lost, so ever since then I've just wanted to be in that position again. Hopefully we can bring it home this year. For me, I just want to have a solid season that helps get us to that championship game.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you get drafted and the contract and situation are right, is playing professionally out of high school something that interests you?

Phillip Evans: If it all pans out like that, maybe, but I've got a full ride to San Diego State, and that's a pretty good education down there. I've always wanted to play baseball for the rest of my live, so anything can happen after this season, but I'm just trying to focus on college right now.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being 18 years old, how do you deal with having a different career path than all your friends at the moment? How do you balance that pressure with just trying to be a normal high school teenager, when you clearly don't have normal opportunities in front of you?

Phillip Evans: I just try to stay humble. I try not to talk about it too much, just keep it to myself. I'm just trying to be a normal high school kid, trying to fit in, you know? I fit in well with all my friends, we don't really talk about it too much and they treat me like a normal kid, so I'm pretty fortunate for that. Those are my true friends, for sure.

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