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Hoskins ready to build off stunning '17 debut

Phillies first baseman slugged 18 home runs in 50 games
December 18, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins is ready to lead in 2018.Phillies manager Gabe Kapler drew that conclusion after a dinner with him earlier this month. Hoskins might have just 53 days of big league service time, but Kapler believes the first baseman has the talent and personality to eventually lead the

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins is ready to lead in 2018.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler drew that conclusion after a dinner with him earlier this month. Hoskins might have just 53 days of big league service time, but Kapler believes the first baseman has the talent and personality to eventually lead the Phillies back to the postseason.
"He doesn't need any more success," Kapler said. "It's not about being the veteran guy. That's not what it's about. He is a leader by example, by the way he carries himself, by the way he thinks and by the way he talks. And it doesn't have to be vocal rah-rah in front of the group. It's a very unique package, one that I'm not sure I've ever seen."
Hoskins, 24, took baseball by storm the final two months of last season. He hit .259 with 18 home runs, 48 RBIs and a 1.014 OPS in just 50 games. He played so well that he finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting. He played so well that Phillies fans are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
If Hoskins can replicate his success next season -- and a few other young players take incremental steps forward -- the Phillies should be better. They were 42-69 before Hoskins' Aug. 10 promotion. They were 24-27 after he joined the team.

Postseason bound? Unlikely. But more competitive? More fun to watch? Absolutely, especially with Hoskins teaming up in the middle of the lineup with Carlos Santana.
"The time that I was up here, I think we played some pretty exciting baseball," Hoskins said on the final day of the regular season. "At times, we either pitched and didn't hit or hit and didn't pitch. That's baseball. But I think it's pretty special when we did both, and I think that's pretty apparent."
Of course, adjustments will need to be made. Hoskins hit .314 with 18 home runs, 39 RBIs and a 1.247 OPS in his first 147 plate appearances. He hit .135 with no home runs, nine RBIs and a .485 OPS in his final 65 plate appearances.
Did pitchers adjust to him? Or did the grind of his first six-month professional baseball season finally catch up with him?
"It's something I'd never gone through, every day was a learning process, it really was," Hoskins said. "It was a new thing that I'd never done before. My body is used to being home. It's something that I'll learn from. It's tough, it really was. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't tired. I definitely was. But at the same time everyone else is in the same boat. You've got to learn from it.
"Hopefully sometime soon we're worrying about how to play into October."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.