People around baseball will constantly say that if a player hits, they'll find a place in a big league lineup. Case in point: Rhys Hoskins, who has largely flown under the radar for much of his Minor League career, has hit his way up to Philadelphia for his first callup
People around baseball will constantly say that if a player hits, they'll find a place in a big league lineup. Case in point: Rhys Hoskins, who has largely flown under the radar for much of his Minor League career, has hit his way up to Philadelphia for his first callup on Thursday.
Ever since he was taken in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft out of Sacramento State, Hoskins has out-hit expectations and evaluations by scouts and prospect writers alike. He didn't do much in that first summer of pro ball, hitting just .237/.311/.408 in the New York-Penn League. That turned out to be the aberration and not the rule, and the Phillies' No. 6 prospect finally joined the Top 100 list (currently at No. 71) in 2017.
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He jumped on a slightly faster track in his first full season, playing across two levels of A ball and finishing with a combined .319/.395/.518 line with 19 homers and 90 RBIs. He seemed more like a hit and on-base machine with a little power, with people wanting to see how he would handle the move up to the upper levels. He promptly responded by hitting 38 homers and driving in 116 runs, finishing second in the Minors to teammate Dylan Cozens. He continued to get on base, with a .377 OBP thanks to his 71 walks. He definitely took advantage of the friendly confines in Reading, but still hit .270/.357/.496 on the road.
The hit parade continued this season with the move to Triple-A, putting the organization on notice that he would be ready for a shot at some point during the year. The power didn't disappear after leaving Reading, with his 29 home runs putting him in a tie for second in the Minors. His 91 RBIs placed him third, and he'll carry outstanding on-base skills (.385 in 2017) with him to Philadelphia.
The biggest advancement for Hoskins has been a leg kick which has helped him be on time more consistently and tap into his raw power on a regular basis. Even though he's hitting the ball out of the park regularly, it hasn't come with a sacrifice of his advanced approach at the plate. He continues to walk at an impressive rate (13.5 percent this year) while keeping his strikeout rate impressively low (15.8 percent) at the Minors' highest level.
That's what he'll hope to do in the big leagues as he continues to show that he can be a regular. While he is a capable defender at first, there is additional pressure for a right-right first baseman to produce offensively. So far, he's been able to do just that. He has solid enough defensive skills to play the corner infield position full-time if needed.
He had played only first base throughout his climb up the ladder until he started getting work in left field and played a few games there for Lehigh Valley prior to his callup. The Phillies have a right-handed first baseman in Tommy Joseph already, so there isn't a platoon match to be made there. Instead, Hoskins will see time at first and in left as the Phillies try to get his bat into the lineup regularly.
Hoskins will have to keep proving to people that his bat will play now that he's at the highest level. As long as he maintains his approach, he should be able to tap into that power in the National League. The Phillies will give him every chance to show it will work and if his Minor League career is any indication, he'll exceed expectations.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.