Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Hoskins excited for Derby, second-half push

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- When it was announced Wednesday that Rhys Hoskins was among the eight contestants for Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN), the outfielder got a text that made him feel nostalgic. It was from a member of his host family back during Rookie ball congratulating him on the honor.

Hoskins remembers being huddled around a television with his host family watching baseball's stars effortlessly launch home runs out of the park in the Home Run Derby, hoping -- praying -- that one day he could so the same.

View Full Game Coverage

BALTIMORE -- When it was announced Wednesday that Rhys Hoskins was among the eight contestants for Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN), the outfielder got a text that made him feel nostalgic. It was from a member of his host family back during Rookie ball congratulating him on the honor.

Hoskins remembers being huddled around a television with his host family watching baseball's stars effortlessly launch home runs out of the park in the Home Run Derby, hoping -- praying -- that one day he could so the same.

View Full Game Coverage

:: Complete Home Run Derby coverage ::

Hoskins -- a childhood Giants fan -- remembers the countless times over the years he's replayed Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire going back and forth in the 1996 Derby, though he doesn't remember watching live. Hoskins was only 3 at the time.

Hoskins, 25, is ready to join the elite company of Derby participants in his first full season in the big leagues.

"It was a definite yes," said Hoskins, who added there was no hesitation with agreeing to take part. "It's too cool of an opportunity to be a part of to say no."

Video: Hoskins to show off power at 2018 Home Run Derby

Hoskins, seeded eighth in the bracket, will face off against top seed Jesus Aguilar in the first round from Nationals Park on Monday, with Bryce Harper, Max Muncy, Alex Bregman, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez and Freddie Freeman rounding out the rest of the field.

Hoskins has already proven his power and is tied with Carlos Santana behind Odubel Herrera for the Phillies' team lead in home runs with 14, but in his first Major League action last season, he hit 18 home runs in his first 35 career games. No other player in Major League history has hit more than 13 in a span of that length to start their career.

But is the conspiracy that the Derby can ruin a player's swing floating around Hoskins and the organization?

"I think it's a story that the baseball world tells itself. … As many cases as you can find on the side of a guy's swing not being perfect after the Derby, you can find of guys excelling," said Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, citing Ryan Howard's 2006 season, when he hit 30 of his 58 home runs after the Derby.

Hoskins and All-Star selection Aaron Nola will represent Philadelphia during the All-Star festivities, and they hope to show -- on top of personal abilities -- that last year's 66-96 Phillies are in the rearview mirror. The 2018 Phillies are ready for the national spotlight.

"That ball might be starting to roll a little bit faster now with us being in first place," Hoskins said of potentially increased attention after the break. "I think the more exposure that we can get as a team and as an organization will be better for us down the road."

Video: PHI@NYM: Hoskins talks Home Run Derby excitement

But Hoskins wants to win just as much as he wants propel his team into the spotlight. In trying to do so, he'll consult Howard -- the last Phillies slugger to win the Derby -- for assistance. Specifically, he's looking for help with a strategy for when to swing and when to hold back, despite the change in format from Howard's time.

And what would the childhoood version of Hoskins, who looked up to Bonds and McGwire, tell the Hoskins of today?

"Just make sure you don't swing and miss."

Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Philadelphia Phillies, Rhys Hoskins