I'm starting off with one of my favorite players in this draft class. Phil Ervin, an outfielder from Samford University with a sweet swing and a good eye. In my mind Ervin would be an absolute steal at #16 and projects as an everyday Centerfielder with All Star potential.
First, before I get all 14 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert about this, some history on Mr. Ervin. He's a 20 year old Junior at Samford University studying Sociology. He stands 5'10" and weighs 205 lbs. He's built like a NFL Running Back, with a thick, but athletic frame. He's strong and thickly built, but not by any means fat. He should be able to stay in Center Field as a pro, but also has the power potential to slide to the corner, if needed as he has an above average arm.
As a hitter, Ervin has insanely good bat speed generating plus power. He also has the kind of eye you love in a hitter, having drawn 29 walks against 22 K's as a Senior so far. Below is a clip of him hitting a Grand Slam in the Cape Cod League last summer. He does one thing I absolutely love in a hitter and I think is the source of his good plate discipline. Watch his left foot, he has just the tiniest of toe taps as a timing mechanism. This very quiet swing allows him to wait on offspeed pitches better than someone with a high leg kick or exagerrated bat movement. A few things on Cape Cod after the video...
One of the big red flags for a guy like Ervin is his level of competition. Samford isn't going against the ACC powerhouses or the big guns of the PAC-10 (or 12 or whatever the hell they are now), so he's mostly been beating up on guys who likely have little to no pro career ahead of them. Then he destroyed the Cape Cod League last summer. In 40 games, Ervin hit .321 with 11 HR, 11 SB and 17 BB against 33 K (For reference that's a 21% K rate and a 11% BB rate). He walked away with the MVP and a whole hell of a lot of buzz. This is big for 2 reasons. First, the level of competition in the Cape Cod League is much higher than what he faced in the Southern Conference. Second, unlike the NCAA, Cape Cod uses wood bats, so players don't get "Aluminum Power" that disappears when they turn pro. Chances are much better that if you can rake in the CCL, you can rake in the Pros (not certain, but better).
On the basepaths, Ervin has above-average speed and could be a 20-25 steal guy in the Majors. This part is hard to project though, as with Ervin adding any muscle or weight he could slip a bit to more average speed and fall into the 15-20 range for steals. He seems to run with great success in College, but who cares? It's nearly impossible to project to Pro baseball, so this will be somewhat wait and see and he may need to refine technique, but he has enough speed to be successful.
Flaws? Well, Ervin can get overaggresive at the plate at times and there are some questions about his pitch recognition. Additionally, he profiles best in Center, but similar to the discussion about base stealing, that could change as he adds weight, which adds pressure to the bat to connect for power if he moves to the corner.
At the end of the day, I'm a big Ervin fan. I think he can be a 20-20 guy, and I even would dare to say that Bobby Abreu is not a crazy ceiling for him. As for floor, I think he'll, at worst, be a Major League Regular perhaps Denard Span with a bit more pop and a bit less glove.
Flashin' the Leather:
A nice look at the swing and baserunning. What old-timey uni's, by the way.
I'll finish by letter Phil Ervin speak for himself. Likeable kid.