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Farm Report: Phillip Evans contending for batting title with B-Mets

Binghamton Mets infielder Phillip Evans has taken a big leap forward in 2016. Courtesy Rick Nelson Photography/Binghamton Mets

Binghamton infielder Phillip Evans pretty much was a no-brainer to be selected as Eastern League Player of the Week. Evans produced at least three hits in five straight games, hitting .696 (16-for-23) with five doubles and a homer during that span.

For the season, Evans is hitting .333 with seven homers and 38 RBIs in 327 Double-A plate appearances. He spent the opening two weeks with Class A St. Lucie.

Evans would trail Eastern League leader Aneury Tavarez of Portland by one point for the batting crown with two weeks remaining in the season. But Evans currently is short of the 2.7 plate appearances per scheduled team game required to qualify for the official leaderboard. The B-Mets have 13 games remaining. Evans needs 56 plate appearances in those games -- 4.3 per game -- to officially be in contention for the batting title at season’s end without any penalty being assessed.

If Evans comes up short of the required plate-appearance total, the number he is shy of 383 could be counted as hitless at-bats when computing his batting average for purposes of the leaderboard. That’s how Cesar Puello won the batting title with the B-Mets in 2013 while falling six plate appearances shy of officially qualifying.

Evans hit only .234 with no homers and 32 RBIs in 252 at-bats last season with St. Lucie and has taken a big leap forward in 2016.

“I think it’s just a lot of all the years coming together -- experience and plate appearances,” said Evans, a 15th-round pick in 2011 out of the same high school in San Diego County that just produced Mickey Moniak as the first overall pick in June. “It’s turning out to be a pretty good year for me.”

As for any technical changes, Evans cited his work with B-Mets hitting coach Luis Natera.

“I did spread out a little bit in my stance,” Evans said. “I’ve just been way more selective this season, and aggressive at the same time.”

The 5-foot-9 Evans is a natural shortstop and has started 278 minor league games at that position. But he now has started 53 career games at second base and 33 games at third base -- all since 2014. With L.J. Mazzilli having returned to Binghamton from Triple-A Las Vegas, Evans may see more time at third base down the stretch.

“Coming up as a shortstop, it’s a little bit easier to move around -- third base, second base,” Evans said. “I think I’m pretty even at all three now. The last couple of years I’ve been playing all over the infield. It’s been natural for me the last couple of years.”

Evans had committed to San Diego State out of high school, but opted to sign with the Mets.

Tony Gwynn recruited me,” Evans recalled. “It was pretty tough to say no to that guy sitting in the room with him. ... Now it’s been five or six years flying by. It’s definitely gone quicker than I thought. It feels like I was just signed not too long ago, when I was 18. I’m turning 24 soon. It’s fun to see where I’ve come. But now I’m in Double-A and playing good baseball. So it’s finally getting to that elite level.”

ORGANIZATION LEADERS

Average: T.J. Rivera, Vegas, .347; Brandon Nimmo, Vegas, .342; Carlos Sanchez, GCL Mets, 319; Phillip Evans, Binghamton, .317; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, .316; Gavin Cecchini, Vegas, .314; Jeremy Wolf, Kingsport, .310; Tomas Nido, St. Lucie, .308; Dominic Smith, Binghamton, .304; Reed Gamache, Kingsport, .301.

Homers: Johnny Monell, Vegas, 19; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 19; Dominic Smith, Binghamton, 14; Dilson Herrera, Vegas, 13; Marc Krauss, Vegas, 13.

RBIs: Dominic Smith, Binghamton, 85; David Thompson, St. Lucie, 83; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 83; T.J. Rivera, Vegas, 81; Johnny Monell, Vegas, 69.

Steals: Champ Stuart, Binghamton, 36; Patrick Biondi, St. Lucie, 23; Jacob Zanon, Brooklyn, 20; J.C. Rodriguez, Columbia, 17.

ERA: Thomas Szapucki, Brooklyn, 1.38; Harol Gonzalez, Brooklyn, 1.72; P.J. Conlon, St. Lucie, 1.81; Sixto Torres, Kingsport, 2.49; Ricky Knapp, Binghamton, 2.50; Merandy Gonzalez, Brooklyn, 3.21; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 3.32; Gabriel Llanes, Brooklyn, 3.41; Chris Flexen, St. Lucie, 3.85; Casey Delgado, St. Lucie, 3.87.

Wins: Ricky Knapp, Binghamton, 13; P.J. Conlon, St. Lucie, 11; Casey Delgado, St. Lucie, 11; Gabriel Ynoa, Vegas, 11.

Saves: Corey Taylor, St. Lucie, 18; Alex Palsha, St. Lucie, 17; Paul Sewald, Vegas, 15; David Roseboom, Binghamton, 12.

Strikeouts: Joe Shaw, Columbia, 130; Chase Ingram, Columbia, 120; Tyler Pill, Vegas, 119; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 107.

SHORT HOPS

  • Brandon Nimmo earned Player of the Week honors in the Pacific Coast League. Nimmo hit .452 (14-for-31) and had a walk-off homer against Round Rock on Aug. 16. He was selected over 51s teammate Michael Conforto, who hit .528 with an .806 slugging percentage for the week.

  • 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith is on fire in August with Binghamton. He is hitting .413 (31-for-75) with two homers and 13 RBIs and has a .483 on-base percentage for the month.

  • Left-hander Anthony Kay, the first-round pick out of Ward Melville High on Long Island, will not pitch with Brooklyn this season. He will be held out until the fall instructional league in Port St. Lucie.

  • First baseman Peter Alonso, the Mets’ second-round pick out of the University of Florida, suffered a broken finger and will not return to Brooklyn this season. Alonso also will participate in the instructional league. He hit .321 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 109 at-bats with the Cyclones.

  • Logan Verrett, who complained of neck difficulty, will not have his demotion rescinded. Verrett is scheduled to make his first start with Las Vegas since the demotion in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Thursday, when he opposes Tim Lincecum.

  • Right-hander Ricky Knapp, who tossed the first nine-inning complete game by a Binghamton pitcher this season on Tuesday, has a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts. Knapp was selected in the eighth round in 2013 out of Florida Gulf Coast University.

  • St. Lucie’s Tomas Nido leads the Florida State League with a .308 average -- three points ahead of Dunedin’s Richard Urena.

  • Luis Carpio made his Brooklyn debut on Monday, but the 19-year-old Venezuelan shortstop will only DH for the remainder of the season. Carpio had shoulder surgery during spring training. He resumed playing in the Gulf Coast League as a DH on Aug. 10.

  • The Binghamton Mets will induct Heath Bell and Nelson Figueroa into the Eastern League team’s “Baseball Shrine” on Sept. 2. Both will be present for the ceremony.

  • Patrick Mazeika has a .403 on-base percentage with Columbia. That’s the best OBP in the South Atlantic League among hitters with at least 230 plate appearances. The Fireflies have won a season-high five straight games and have not trailed in 43 innings.

  • The Cyclones set a franchise record with a six-error game Monday.

“Farm Report” appears on Wednesdays during the regular season