Phillip Ervin might be the most overlooked player on the Cincinnati Reds roster. After having some success in 2018, Ervin is fighting for a spot on the team.
Phillip Ervin smacked his third home run of the spring on Sunday during the Cincinnati Reds‘ victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Ervin has played in 6 games so far this spring and is hitting .429 with an OPS of 1.699. Yet, Ervin may be on the outside looking in when final cuts are made to the Reds roster.
The Reds outfield is loaded with talent. In fact, only one of the starting outfield spots is spoken for at this time. I think we can all agree that Yasiel Puig will be starting in right field when the Cincinnati Reds season kicks off on Thursday, March 28th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The other two starting spots seem to be somewhat up for grabs, but oddly enough Phillip Ervin is unlikely to land either. Though capable of playing either position, it looks to be Jesse Winker and Matt Kemp battling it out for the starting left fielder job, and Nick Senzel taking on Scott Schebler for the right to start in center field.
Unless the Reds make a move and trade either Kemp or Schebler before the season starts, it’s hard to see Ervin making the roster out of spring training. Not only is Ervin competing against players like Schebler, Kemp, Puig, Senzel, and Winker, but Connor Joe and Kyle Farmer can also play the corner outfield spots.
Last season, Ervin hit .252 with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs. He also had six stolen bases. Those numbers are definitely not overwhelming, but they’re certainly solid stats for Ervin’s rookie season with the Reds.
In the end, it’s not going to come down to numbers on the stat sheet, but rather the number of players on the team. Versatility has become a desired trait among Major League Baseball players, and while Phillip Ervin can play all three outfield spots, there are other players on the Cincinnati Reds roster that offer even more versatility.
Connor Joe can play the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as the backstop. Kyle Farmer has there versatility to play behind the plate, in the outfield, the hot corner, and the Reds have been checking him out at shortstop as well.
While the starting spots in the outfield are still up for debate, four of the five spots themselves are spoken for. Puig, Kemp, Schebler, and Winker, barring a trade, will be on the Opening Day roster. Senzel’s standing with the team on Opening Day is still up for debate, even though you all know by now where I stand on the whole debate.
That being said, if Senzel starts the season in Triple-A Louisville, it’s much more likely that Joe, not Ervin, makes the squad out of Spring Training. The Reds like Joe’s versatility and he was a Rule 5 Draft pick, meaning he could return to his old team if not on Cincinnati’s Opening Day roster.
The deck appears stacked against Phillip Ervin, but it hasn’t stopped the former first-round pick from crushing the ball this spring. Ervin appears to be more of a utility outfielder than a starter, but he’s not going to go quietly. The battle for the final spot in the Cincinnati Reds outfield is the most intriguing situation in camp, and Ervin is likely to be there until the bitter end.