Since being selected in the first round of the 2013 Draft, Phillip Ervin has experienced his share of ups and downs.
Right now, things seem to be on the upswing for the Reds' No. 20 prospect, who couldn't imagine a better start to his Triple-A career.
Ervin homered twice and drove in four runs to propel Louisville to a 5-3 win over Columbus on Friday at Huntington Park.
Through his first nine games with the Bats, Ervin has logged a slash line of .355/.429/.710 with three homers and nine RBIs -- eight coming in the last three contests.
"This is the hottest I've started a season since I was with Class A [Advanced] Daytona in 2014," Ervin said. "I feel like I just have a lot more confidence up at the plate and am having a lot of fun just showing what I can do. It feels really good to start the season here in Louisville and come out the gate playing well. I've tried not to think about it too much, but it's definitely been a lot of fun the way things are going."
Ervin put Louisville on the board in the second inning by sending a 2-1 pitch from Shawn Morimando (0-2) over the left-field wall for a two-run shot.
"He left a changeup that I got that barrel to," Ervin added. "I've been swinging at better pitches. I've had a tendency to chase pitches out of the zone and right now, I feel like I've laid off those bad ones."
Ervin extended the Bats' lead to 4-0 in the fourth with his second two-run blast, turning on a pitch Morimando left up in the zone.
"He tried to sneak a fastball in there and I got a good swing on it," the Samford University product said. "I've just tried to stick to my approach and not let the pitcher change how I go about my business. I just focus on what I need to do, and not worry about how they're coming at me."
Last year, Ervin hit .239 in 123 games with Double-A Pensacola, but his batting average doesn't tell the whole story. The Alabama native also posted a .362 on-base percentage, smacked 13 homers and was fourth on the circuit with 36 stolen bases.
Despite those solid numbers, Ervin is hoping to shake his reputation as a streaky hitter.
"I want to be consistent this season and avoid the long streaks where I go hitless or something like that," he said. "I want to be steady the whole year rather than hot-and-cold type of player."
Ervin also drew inspiration from his Louisville teammate, Jesse Winker, the Reds No. 3 prospect who made his Major League debut Friday.
"To see the emotion that Jesse showed, it felt great," Ervin said. "That experience made me want to go out there and play hard so I can have that same feeling that he had. It's a dream come true, so I'd like to see that happen to me."
Louisville third baseman Brandon Dixon had a double and an RBI.
Lisalverto Bonilla (2-0) gave up three runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings to get the win.
Left fielder Richie Shaffer doubled to drive in both runs for Columbus.