PCL notes: 51s' Evans expanding his role

Mets No. 28 prospect turning into super-sub with Las Vegas

A natural shortstop, Phillip Evans has played second base, third and left field this season in Triple-A. (Steve Spatafore)

By Chris Jackson / Special to MiLB.com | May 16, 2017 11:17 AM ET

Phillip Evans found himself at a crossroads entering last season.

The shortstop-turned-utility-infielder was in danger of being passed by others in the New York Mets organization after hitting .228/.294/.298 from 2013 to 2015.

Then Evans went out and hit an Eastern League-leading .335 at Double-A Binghamton last season, putting himself squarely back in the organization's plans and earning a promotion to the Las Vegas 51s this season.

"I think being healthy to start the year was a big step in the right direction," said Evans, the Mets' No. 28-ranked prospect. "I was working with Luis Natera, the hitting coach at Binghamton, and I think we just clicked. A lot of things clicked for me. I started putting things together."

Evans was a 15th-round pick out of LaCosta Canyon (Calif.) High School in 2011, but the Mets gave him a signing bonus of $650,000, well above slot, in order to bypass his commitment to San Diego State. Even with that bonus to his name, Evans knew his chances could be running out with the organization.

"You can't really settle in this game, especially in the Minor Leagues," Evans said. "There's always new guys coming in, new prospects. You can't take any game for granted, or any at-bat for that matter -- that's been my mind-set from the beginning of last year."

That mind-set, Evans said, ended up saving his job.

"I kind of thought I was on my way out last year," he said. "I just went out, had some fun, played hard every single day and it worked out for me. Keeping that same mentality is definitely going to keep me around the game for a while."

With other notable young shortstops like Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario in the organization, the Mets also made the decision last season to begin turning Evans into more of a super sub.

"I think last year got me ready for this upcoming season, playing third, second and short," Evans said. "They've even moved me out to left. It's definitely helped me out a lot. I think coming up as a shortstop got me prepared for every other position on the field. It's not going to hurt me and I'm having fun doing it, playing all those other positions."

So far in 2017, Evans and many of his teammates haven't quite seen that success carry over. He was hitting just .227/.315/.300 with two homers and 13 RBIs through Sunday, while the 51s were just 15-22 and sitting in last place in the Pacific Southern Division.

"Our lineup is pretty fun to look at on paper," Evans said. "It's still early in the season. The rest will take care of itself. We'll all start getting hot at the same time soon. We're not worried about it -- just playing the game, having fun."

The Mets have been hammered by injuries so far this year, which has also left many of the Las Vegas players keeping an even more close eye on the clubhouse television and other devices.

"I'm sure guys are checking their phones and watching the media, MLB Network and all that stuff, following the rumors," Evans said. "But I feel like the more you take care of your own business and show up the field and win every day, everything is going to take care of itself."

In brief

Biding his time: With all the injuries in San Francisco, it's a wonder that Giants No. 1 prospect Tyler Beede has not be called up yet. The 23-year-old right-hander is off to a good start at Fresno, going 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in seven starts.

Chasing the opposition: Speaking of pitching prospects waiting for a callup from a struggling team, Royals No. 2 Josh Staumont has gone 3-2 with a 3.62 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings for Omaha.

Dream Weaver: The St. Louis Cardinals aren't struggling, but they have a pitching prospect pushing for another shot at the Majors. Luke Weaver, the organization's No. 3 prospect, started Opening Day and then went on the disabled list, but since returning he has been lights-out, racking up three wins and allowing one run in 20 innings.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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