NEW YORK—The Mets left infielder Phillip Evans unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and were fortunate when he went unselected. As such, the 24-year-old remains with the organization after winning the Eastern League batting title in 2016.
A 15th-round pick in 2011, Evans hit .335 with eight homers and 39 RBIs in 361 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton.
To win the batting title, Evans actually needed an extra decimal place. He topped Portland’s Aneury Tavarez .3352 to .3351 after Evans went 4-for-6 in a 13-inning inning game on the final day of the regular season.
“From the start of the season until the end of the season is kind of like a roller coaster,” Evans said. “I had not been able to get many opportunities in the beginning of the year, but every time I got in there I did pretty well and did whatever I could do to stay in the lineup, and just ended up winning the batting title in the Eastern League.”
Evans hit a modest .234/.300/.313 at high Class A St. Lucie in 2015. He cited mental toughness as the biggest reason for his turnaround. As for any technical changes, Evans cited his work with hitting coach Luis Natera.
“I did spread out a little bit in my stance,” Evans said. “I’ve just been way more selective this season, and aggressive at the same time.”
Evans played 19 games with Caguas in Puerto Rico this offseason, hitting .311/.386/.446 while seeing action at second base, third base and shortstop. The 5-foot-9 Evans is a natural shortstop but has started 57 career games at second base and 41 games at third base—all since 2014.
“Coming up as a shortstop, it’s a little bit easier to move around—third base, second base,” Evans said. “I think I’m pretty even at all three now. … It’s been natural for me the last couple of years.”
Now, he’s back on the radar too, even if he went unselected in the Rule 5 draft.
“I was on the radar when I was first coming up,” Evans said. “Reopening some eyes this season really pumped me up.”
• Jose Leger will return to manage low Class A Columbia in the South Atlantic League.
— Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPN.com