Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Intriguing Players on the Opening Day Roster
By Noah Wright
Utility Man Phillip Evans
Phillp Evans kind of appeared out of nowhere, but is making the Pittsburgh Pirates roster. Evans, a former New York Mets farmhand, has only appeared in 34 MLB games, that being in 2017 and 2018 with the Mets. He only collected 61 total plate appearances, and getting 13 hits, two of which were doubles, walked six times, and stuck out 16 times.
Last year, Evans spent the entire 2019 season with the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate. He didn’t do all that bad, hitting .283/.371/.470 with 17 home runs. While that might be pretty good production at the Triple-A level, remember he did play in the Pacific Coast League.
The same league where the league leader in home runs, Kevin Cron, slammed 38 in just 82 games, and 2019 Rookie of the Year hit 23 in just the 50 games before he was called to the Majors. All told there were 63, 20+ home run hitters, but Evans still clocked in with a 106 wRC+ making him 6% above average.
Evans has a Triple-A slash of .276/.351/.464 with 42 home runs through 1294 plate appearances. He also had a solid 9.3% walk rate at the level, but an impressive 15.1% K rate at the level.
During the preseason this year, Evans was outstanding. While it was a very small sample size of 33 plate appearances, he hit for a .333/.405/.636 slash line with two home runs and four doubles.
He could be a solid right handed platoon with Colin Moran until Ke’Bryan Hayes’ service time clock is ready. After all, he hit southpaws for a .349/.430/.550 line in 2019. Even if he can carry over any semblance of that production vs LHP in 2020, he might be a solid bench bat and platoon man.