Phillip Evans Encourages Mets With Hitting Approach





PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.—For 48 hours last June, Phillip Evans envisioned his baseball future unfolding at San Diego State.

"The first two days (of the draft)," Evans said during spring training, "I definitely was thinking I was going to school."

Then came the 15th round, when the Mets finally picked him out of La Costa Canyon High in Carlsbad, Calif.

Evans became a minor part of franchise history when the Mets nabbed the offensive-minded middle infielder with a $650,000 bonus just before the signing deadline, the franchise's largest bonus ever for a player taken after the second round.

A stocky 5-foot-11, Evans had showcased himself well across the country last year. His instincts impressed scouts, and his bat figures to carry him. He played shortstop in high school but profiles better at second base.

Evans, 19, could be on the verge of taking a leap forward in 2012. Minor league field coordinator Dick Scott singled him out in spring training as a player who had embraced the organization's hitting approach during instructional league.

"I've always had a pretty solid approach at the plate," Evans said. "Just trying to zone in on the one pitch I want to drive. It's not too different than what I've done my whole life. So it was pretty easy to adapt."

Evans played for all three of the organization's short-season teams during a nine-game pro debut last season, going 10-for-34 (.294) and making Brooklyn's playoff roster. The Mets invited him to their top prospect camp this spring, and he even appeared in a major league split-squad game along with 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo.

Evans spent the winter working out at San Diego State, where he brushed shoulders with alumni like Stephen Strasburg and Tony Gwynn Jr. Like Nimmo, Evans hoped to make the low Class A Savannah roster out of spring training.

"I just want to have a solid season, just try to get more consistent in every aspect of the game," Evans said.  

METAMORPHOSES

• As part of regular roster trimming, the Mets shipped several top prospects out of big league camp on March 15, including righthanders Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia. Neither pitcher ever had a legitimate chance to make the Opening Day roster.

• Top prospect Zack Wheeler started the minor league opener on March 17 against the Cardinals, and the righthander allowed one unearned run in three innings. The Mets expected him to miss his second start after he sprained his ankle while climbing the steps to his apartment.