Pittsburgh Pirates: Phillip Evans Could Quietly Find a Role


While infielder Phillip Evans entered camp as an afterthought among many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he may get an opportunity to carve out a role for himself this season

On December 17, 2019, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed infield Phillip Evans to a minor league free agent contract. At the time, this signing was not talked about by fans. Hell, many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates probably did not even realize the team signed him.

Evans came to the Pittsburgh Pirates after spending the first seven years of his professional career in the New York Mets organization. This included MLB time with the Mets in 2017 and 2018, when he hit for a .241/.328/.278 slash line and a 74 wRC+ in 61 plate appearances.

When spring training began back in February, Evans remained an afterthought among Pirate fans. Despite this, Evans caught the attention of Pirate manager Derek Shelton and his coaching staff. Now, he may have an opportunity to quietly carve out a role in 2020.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down Grapefruit League play, Evans was off to a strong start. In 28 plate appearances, he owned a .346/.433/.577 slash line. This included a home run and three doubles.

While the right-handed hitting Evans primarily plays third base, he can also play first base and the outfield. With Colin Moran set to start the season as the team’s starting third baseman once again, Evans could serve as a platoon partner for Moran. He could also see starts at first base with Josh Bell to likely serve as the team’s designated hitter. Shelton even believes Evans could be an option at second base.

Shelton has also mentioned Evans as a potential DH candidate. Although, that seems unlikely, largely due to Bell seeming like a slam dunk to DH. Regardless, it is clear that Evans has caught the eye of Shelton.

For Shelton to have this interest in Evans, there must be something there that the team’s scouts and analytics from the Grapefruit League play are telling him. In addition to his subpar career results, he has averaged an exit velocity of 83.2 MPH in his career which is below league average. His 21.1% hard hit rate is also less than encouraging.

That said, it is possible Evans has found something to help him turn a corner. If that has indeed happened, that his minor league contract could prove to be a bargain of a deal for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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With expanded rosters to start the season, teams will be permitted to career 30 players for the first two weeks of the season, Evans likely has a better chance than many people would have thought of making the Opening Day roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, at this point, it may be a bit of a surprise if he was not among the 30 players the Pirates take to St. Louis on July 24. At that point, he will have the opportunity to carve out a bench/platoon role for the Pirates this season.