Phillies Pipeline: 4 Clearwater hitters to watch
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- There are two position players representing the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers on MLBPipeline's Top 30 Phillies Prospects: Centerfielder Carlos Tocci (22) and shortstop Malquin Canelo (23).
But at a point in history when all Major League teams are focused on finding bats, there are several others who, along with catcher Willians Astudillo, have enough offensive tools to merit attention. All are intriguing parts of a team vying to end the year with the Florida State League's best record.
Dylan Cozens, RF
The Phillies' second-round Draft pick in 2012 brings the kind of power expectations that are natural for a 21-year-old who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 235 pounds. To this point, even though Cozens is batting .284, he has only eight home runs in 106 games.
Threshers manager Greg Legg: "The raw power is very intriguing. Outstanding raw power. He's a guy that's kind of learning to hit right now. By that, I want him to be tougher to strike out, get the guy in from third, hit and run if called upon. You compare that to last year [at Class A Lakewood] when he'd get big and try to hit a two-run homer instead of lining a single to left with two strikes.
"You've got a guy who could be real special. He could be one of the guys who hits 40 for you. You just don't know. You ride it out. We're trying to teach him to hit now, and we believe the power is going to come later. And he's kind of buying into it.
"It's hard. Everybody wants that instant [gratification]. So you've got a fine line. We've got him on the path we want him to hit. That park of ours up in the big leagues is built for a guy like him. Tailored for him. He could miss balls that might leave. So you have a very interesting player. I'm a fan. A big fan."
Andrew Pullin, LF
With the heavy summer air and big parks, home runs can be hard to come by in the FSL. Pullin's 14 lead the league. The 21-year-old was selected three rounds after Cozens. Last year, he played second base; but this season, he has been strictly an outfielder.
Legg: "Dead red. If you throw him fastballs, he's going to hurt you. He's really good at that. He's kind of a surprise to me. He has extra-base power with pull power. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark to the pull side. When they throw him fastballs, he's going to hit them. And it doesn't matter whose there is.
"And he's got a good arm out there."
Aaron Brown, CF
The 23-year-old was the Phils' third-round pick out of Pepperdine last year. Brown ranks second on the Threshers with 11 home runs. So far, he's attracted the most attention for spectacular catches in the outfield, but the potential to hit is there.
Legg: "I see a guy who has the ability to hit 20 homers and have eight or nine triples and 20 to 30 doubles. ... He's not a burner, but he plays the game hard. He plays it as hard as anybody I've ever seen play. He's coming to play baseball. He could be one of those.
"In his first full season, he's learning to hit. The insides of him are going fast. He's wanting everything to go quick. He's kind of a football player's mentality playing baseball. So he's not going to hit a homer, he's going to hit it over [Route 19 beyond Bright House Field]. Right now, we're at a real good time with Brownie. The at-bats are more professional. The strikeouts are less. The hits with two strikes are starting to come up. And his average is coming up.
"I don't know his career like our scouts would, but I know he pitched and he hit. So when you're doing that, it's taking time away from one or the other. Now he's just hitting, so you might have a late bloomer."
Rhys Hoskins, 1B
The 22-year-old is also in his first full professional season after being drafted in the fifth round last summer out of Cal State-Sacramento. Hoskins started this year at Lakewood and has played 63 games for the Threshers since being promoted. He has a .308 average with eight homers at Clearwater.
Legg: "He's shown power the other way and to the pull side. He's been fun to watch. He's a tough out. It doesn't matter who's throwing. He he's got a chance to be an RBI guy in the middle of the lineup.
"It's a grind at-bat. It's not an easy strikeout. First full year in pro ball and he's an RBI guy. And the first full year is a tough year, in my experience over the years, as you're getting into that area where you haven't been before. Closing in on 500 at-bats. I've stuck him right in the middle in the four-hole and left him there, and he's made me look smarter than I am."