The injury bug continues to plague the Cincinnati Reds this season. Matt Kemp is now on the injured list with a rib injury, however, his absence from the lineup now opens the door for Phillip Ervin.
Matt Kemp was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to yesterday, with a broken rib. Taking his place on the 25-man roster is Phillip Ervin. The Cincinnati Reds’ former first round pick will undoubtedly get some opportunities to impress while he’s with the big league club. Will it be enough to keep a roster spot when Kemp returns?
In terms of offensive production, nobody had a better Spring Training than Phillip Ervin. The 27th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft put on a hitting clinic in Goodyear, Arizona this spring and a lot of fans were shocked when Ervin was reassigned at the tail end of the team’s time in camp.
Ervin led the Cactus League with 5 home runs in just 41 at-bats. He slashed an impressive .341/.438/.780 in 16 spring games and racked up 3 doubles and 8 RBIs. If any team in the league is in need of that kind of production, it’s the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds, as a team, are hitting .197. That’s absurd for a team as loaded with talent as this year’s Cincinnati squad. Yes, they’re missing Scooter Gennett, but it’s inexcusable for this team to be hitting below .200.
With contact hitters like Joey Votto and José Peraza combined with the power of Eugenio Suarez and Yasiel Puig, the Cincinnati Reds should be, at the very least, in the middle of the pack offensively in the National League. The Reds also rank last in the NL in walks, on-base percentage, and stolen bases. All of those are areas where Phillip Ervin can excel.
Short of Peraza, no one on the Reds has more speed than Ervin. Having an additional threat on the base paths would be a nice addition for the Reds, whether it’s a late-game replacement or a spot start.
While Jesse Winker has been an adequate substitute in center field when Scott Schebler is out of the lineup, Ervin is much more capable of giving Schebs a day off. Ervin can play all three outfield, which gives David Bell something he seems to crave; roster flexibility.
Bell also seems to be very conscience of lefty versus righty matchups. If the Reds face a left-handed pitcher while Kemp is on the IL, look for Ervin to get those at-bats. Last season, Ervin’s batting average was about the same regardless of if he was facing a left-handed or right-handed pitcher. However, he did display more power against southpaws with a .447 slugging percentage.
Phillip Ervin has all the tools to become a successful major league player. This year’s roster was so crowded in the outfield that he was the odd man out. With Kemp down for at least 10 days, Ervin has a chance to show the Cincinnati Reds organization what he can do. Let’s hope he gets a couple starts over the next week or so.