Reds' top pick Ervin hits first pro homer

Outfield prospect drives in four in third Pioneer League game

By Josh Jackson / Special to | June 22, 2013 10:16 PM ET

Phillip Ervin was eager to break into pro ball. Now that he's arrived, it's easy to see why.

Ervin, whom the Reds grabbed with the 27th pick in this year's Draft, hit his first professional homer, singled and drove in four runs Saturday night to lead Rookie-level Billings to a 9-2 victory over Helena.

The 20-year-old outfielder is 5-for-12 with five RBIs and two stolen bases in three Pioneer League games.

"It's a lot like every other day. It's pretty much like college," Ervin said. "I'm trying hard and I'm trying not to expect too much, to just play the game and let it come out of my abilities."

Ervin was the MVP in the Cape Cod League last summer and was drafted after his junior year at Samford University, becoming the school's first first-round pick. He signed with Cincinnati four days after he was selected and was with the Mustangs for Opening Day.

"I was very excited because [signing meant] I could start working and getting better," he said. "I feel like if I had to wait to get a deal, I wouldn't have had time to prepare myself and I wouldn't have gotten off to this good a start. It was really nice to get started with a mini-camp before I got here."

The Alabama native feels his experience in the Cape Cod League also has something to do with his current success.

"I've been trying to treat [the Pioneer League] like it's the same," he said. "The Cape was great. There was good competition there and there's good competition here. I try to go out there and say, 'I'm better than this pitcher. This pitcher can't get me out.' Because of the pitching [in the Cape], I believe it helped me prepare for this."

Ervin struck out in his first two at-bats Saturday.

"When I started by striking out twice, yeah, it started getting in my head a little bit. I asked my coach [Kevin Mahar] what I'm doing wrong," he said. "He said my timing was a little off. He said to let the ball get a bit deeper, and that's what I tried to do after that."

It worked.

In the seventh, Ervin came up with two outs and the bases loaded and poked a grounder through the right side for a two-run single.

"That felt great because I wanted to be there. I was hoping to be there with the bases loaded," he said. "I guess I like to be in a big moment. I like to be the player that's in that situation to get the big hit and helps the team."

Helena reliever Tristan Archer, the Brewers' 21st-round pick earlier this month, gave up a single, walked a batter and surrendered a double to Avain Rachal before facing Ervin in the ninth.

"I was sitting dead-red on a fastball because he had been a little wild," said Ervin, who sent Archer's first pitch over the left-field fence.

"It felt good coming off the bat. Once I hit it, I knew it was going, just because it felt so good and I was fully extended."

In his final season at Samford, Ervin batted .337 with 11 homers, 40 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 55 games.

"I just want to put up good numbers. I just want to beat my college numbers," he said Saturday. "I want to hit .333 and I want to get home runs and stolen bases, but I don't really have set numbers."

Garrett Cooper, a sixth-round pick in this year's Draft, hit his third homer in as many games for the Brewers.

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

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