Rhys Hoskins set Major League Baseball on fire as a rookie in 2017, putting on a show with 18 home runs in his first 50 games. And yet, the slugger knows there's no time for a victory lap as he looks to build on his success into 2018 and beyond.The
Rhys Hoskins set Major League Baseball on fire as a rookie in 2017, putting on a show with 18 home runs in his first 50 games. And yet, the slugger knows there's no time for a victory lap as he looks to build on his success into 2018 and beyond.
The 24-year-old has been putting in the work in the weight room and the video room -- in addition to honing his skills on the diamond -- in preparation for his first full year in the big leagues. Hoskins, who was named 2017 International League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting largely because of his offensive performance, stressed earlier this offseason the importance of improving defensively as well.
"This game is a game where you're always improving on something, always working," Hoskins said. "My defense is something that I really try to pride myself on. I've improved a whole lot from the time I got to pro ball to now and that has a lot to do with the consistent work that goes on before games and in the offseason. ... There's always room for improvement."
Hoskins' work ethic has new manager Gabe Kapler excited about his ability to lead a young Phillies team as it continues to progress, despite Hoskins having just 53 days of Major League service time under his belt.
The Phillies have been in the midst of a rebuild for the past few seasons, but Hoskins' rapid maturation has the club eyeing to compete in the NL East as soon as this year. Philadelphia was 42-69 when the club promoted Hoskins on Aug. 10. It went 24-27 from that point on.
"He doesn't need any more success," Kapler told MLB.com. "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' 1.014 on-base plus slugging percentage ranked second among all MLB rookies last season -- behind only American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge -- and it's intriguing to think of the type of year he could have following a full offseason of intense training. But he remains focused, thinking more about how he can help the Phillies return to contention.
Said Hoskins: "Hopefully sometime soon we're worrying about how to play into October."
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.