August 10, 2017
The Situation: The Phillies, as you might know, are not great at baseball. They’ve held overripe first base prospect Rhys Hoskins down at Triple-A all season in favor of so-so 26-year-old incumbent first baseman Tommy Joseph, a move right on the border of defensibility for a rebuilding club. Hoskins started taking reps in left field earlier this week after Aaron Altherr went on the DL, temporarily opening a spot in a previously crowded young outfield. It’s Hoskins’ first playing time in the outfield since he was a semi-regular in left as a college freshman, but it’s not like the next six weeks of Phillies outfield defense matters too much except to the back of Aaron Nola’s baseball card.
Background: The Phillies drafted Hoskins in the fifth round in 2014 out of Sacramento State, and all he’s done since entering full-season ball the next spring is hit. Hoskins has spent at least 277 plate appearances at all four levels of full-season baseball, and he’s hit for over a .900 OPS at every stop. Despite his production, he went unranked in a well-stocked Philadelphia system until he was part of the Choose Your Own Adventure: Island of Klentak tie for tenth in the system entering the 2017 season.
Scouting: You can see the contours of a star first baseman with Hoskins. He’s a large man, listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, with a great baseball frame, so he looks the part walking up to the plate. He’ll show off impressive, easy plus-or-better raw power in batting practice that also shows up at 7 PM. He has plus bat speed. There’s swing-and-miss, as there basically always is with this profile, but he’s a pretty patient hitter and has enough feel and bat control to project the hit tool out to average. If the production carries over just a little more than we think; if Hoskins can lay off just enough good spin from MLB righties; if there’s just enough extra hit and power to squeeze out, Hoskins could be a legitimate star first baseman. We don’t have enough precision projecting hit tools to say he can’t be.