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First-rounder joins crowded Dragons outfield

Cincinnati Reds 2013 first-round draft pick Phillip Ervin is now a Dayton Dragon.

Ervin was promoted from rookie league Billings on Tuesday, caught a plane to Dayton and arrived at 3 p.m., just in time to take batting practice and learn he was batting third and playing designated hitter.

“He’s a huge add with the numbers he produces,” Dayton manager Jose Nieves said. “He’s a gamer and he plays with intensity. He’s not a burner, but he runs the bases wisely and he has a good sense of the game. I think he’ll get along with the kids we got here already, especially with how well they’ve been playing.”

The Reds selected Ervin as the 27th overall pick last month out of Samford, where he hit .337 with 11 home runs, 40 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 55 games. He played in 34 games for Billings, hitting .326 with eight home runs, 29 RBIs and 12 stolen bases while splitting time between center and right field.

Ervin gained notice while playing in the Cape Cod league last summer, a wood bat summer college league in the northeast which features top prospects. He hit double-digit home runs and was named the league’s MVP and earned enough notice to be taken high in the draft.

He’s the third Reds first-round pick to play in Dayton this year — Robert Stephenson, a pick in 2011, was the Dragons’ opening day starter and was recently promoted to Bakersfield. Nick Travieso, the top pick in 2012, started Tuesday’s game.

Ervin joins an already crowded outfield that features two supplemental first-round picks from last year’s draft — Jesse Winker and Jeff Gelalich. Center fielder Beau Amaral is hitting .342 over his last 18 games, including a game-winning grand slam last week. He’s raised his average over 20 points in the process. Finding room for everyone will be a challenge.

“We’ll find a way to do some tweaks with the lineup and rotate guys on days off,” Nieves said. “We’ll try using some of the outfielders at DH; that way the guys who have been here all year can play.”

Who’s hot: Dayton catcher Joe Hudson struggled through the first half, but has finally found his bat. He’s hitting .366 over his last 13 games and raised his season average from .234 to .258.

Wandy Peralta, who began the season as a starter, has found a home for himself in the bullpen. He is 1-0 with a save in his last 10 relief appearances. He’s pitched 22 2/3 innings over that span, allowing three runs and producing a 1.19 ERA.

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