Philip Evans Takes A “Step”

Evans Stance 6-13Philip Evans had a bad start to the 2013 season. Following the Gnats’ game on June 9th, in which he was 0-for-3 with an error, he was hitting .173/.244/.223.

The Mets drafted clearly expected more from the 20-year-old who was drafted in the 15th round in 2011, but who received a $650,000 bonus – the equivalent of second round money. Since that low-point in mid-June, Evans has bounced back, hitting .349/.420/.488 with three doubles, a home run, five walks and six strikeouts in his next 13 games to pull his overall line back to .204/.276/.269 in 72 games in the South Atlantic League.

Gnats’ manager Luis Rojas points to a set of mechanical changes that has impacted both Evans’ swing and his approach, “He’s working on getting that load early, so he can see the ball and actually have more balance in his swing. That’s something that had him really struggling early in the season. He was off-balance and wasn’t really recognizing pitches well. Now, getting him ready so early, minimizing the movement, is making him recognize pitches and see which pitch he can drive and see which pitch he can take is getting him into really good counts to hit.”

Usually, we treat approach and swing mechanics separately. Not here. There was so much going on in Evans’ swing preparation that it was preventing him from having both a good approach and a good swing path.

Rojas elaborated, “He had so much movement going on that it was tough to get to the ball and square it. … All that movement had him chasing pitches.  All that movement had him late on pitches and get jammed. Now, he’s just minimizing his movement, getting ready early and just seeing it, and letting the barrel get to the ball easy.”

Is this making too much of a few good weeks? Well, they are Evans’ best weeks of the 2013 season. And Rojas believes that the change is real and the result of extra effort, saying of Evans, “he has been working really, really hard with our hitting coach Joel Fuentes.”

Evans has been hitting balls harder and taking better at-bats, but is far from finished tweaking. As Rojas says, “It’s still early, there’s still a lot to do. He’s a step ahead from where he was.”

 

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