Spring Training games for the 2017 Phillies are just a mere 5 days in, as at the time of this writing, they are in the middle of a contest with the Tampa Bay Rays down in Clearwater, Florida. Although it has only been a small showing, some of the up-and-coming young talent in Phillies camp have shown early signs of making this Spring a nice little showcase for themselves. This team knows that it has more overall talent in their system than they have had in a long time, but at the same time they know some players will need a little more seasoning down on the farm before getting the call to the big leagues. Certain players, though, might make it tough for this organization to keep them in the Minors any longer if their Spring Training numbers have anything to do with it.
Would just like to throw out there before I get into this that Maikel Franco hit his third home run of the Spring while I was writing this. #ManCrushMonday
Okay, let’s move on.
The young players that have stood out above the rest through the first handful of games of the Spring for the Phillies include the likes of Roman Quinn, Brock Stassi, Rhys Hoskins, and Dylan Cozens.
Let’s start with Quinn, as out of these 4 he is most likely the most recognizable name amongst Phils fans, as he saw a small cup of coffee with the big club in September of 2016. The speedster comes into this Spring with the Phils with an outside chance of making the bigs as a 4th outfielder, but in all likelihood the organization would like him to get more consistent at-bats in Triple-A, as opposed to playing behind the starting outfield of Howie Kendrick, Odubel Herrera and Michael Saunders all year. Quinn is known for his speed, as he has racked up a career total of 159 stolen bases in the Minors, including 36 last season between Double-A Reading and a small time that he spent in the Gulf Coast League. During that time in the GCL, he stole 5 bases in just 6 games. Stealing bags is obviously a strong part of his game, but where he lacks a little is in the power department. With his highest total home runs in a season in the Minors being 7 in 2014, he’s not here to knock the ball out of the park. In our first taste of Phillies baseball this Spring, though, he knocked one out of the park against the University of Tampa. Sure, it’s a college team, and it’s just one at-bat in one game, but it was nice to see this small sign of power from the speedster this early in the Spring. If he can add a little more power to his game, which already consists of blazing speed and a pretty solid glove in the outfield (he is a converted infielder by the way), he could end up being a nice piece of this team’s future, and that future might be closer than we initially thought.
Brock Stassi is a name that is familiar to those close to the organization, as he has been with the Phillies since 2011, spending time in different parts of the Minor Leagues. Stassi is 27 years old, and as evidenced by how long he has been in the farm system, he’s no stranger to not making the Major Leagues. That all could change soon, though, as he continues to impress the staff of the Phillies. A big reason that he has never made it to the Major League level thus far would be because of his inconsistency. When he is on, he is a solid power bat. When he’s not playing up to par, though, the stats show it. Stassi enjoyed his best season in the Minor Leagues in 2015 with the Reading Phillies, in which he hit for an even .300 batting average in 466 at-bats, while hitting 15 home runs and knocking in 90 RBI during that span. In his prior season of 2014, he hit just .232 in 440 at-bats while hitting just 8 home runs and 44 RBI. During this past season of 2016, he hit .267 in 375 at-bats with 12 home runs and 58 RBI. The up-and-down statistics for Stassi are likely the reason that he hasn’t heard his call-up to the Phils yet, but if he keeps up his hot start to the Spring, in which he is 3-5 with a home run and 3 RBI early on, and if he has a season similar to 2015, the 27-year-old first baseman might finally get his chance to don the red pinstripes at CBP.
The next player might have something to say about Stassi getting a call-up, and his name is Rhys Hoskins. Also a stand out first baseman in the Phillies system, the 23-year-old is basically the right-handed compliment to the left-handed Stassi. At 23 years old, though, he’s been getting more of a look as a long term answer for the Phillies. Hoskins and Dylan Cozens, who we will talk about in a moment, put on a power show for the Reading Fightin’ Phils a year ago, combining for 78 home runs amongst the two of them, with 38 coming from Hoskins. Those 38 dingers also came along with a .281 batting average and 116 RBI for Rhys. He did so in 498 at-bats, which is the same exact number of at-bats he had in 2015, but that year he hit only 17 home runs. Whether it was a change in approach or extra weight lifting in the offseason, something changed for Hoskins, and the Phillies hope that one day he can transfer this power to the majors. Hoskins started off his Spring with a home run against the Yankees on February 25th which showed his simple but powerful approach to hitting. His short compact swing for such a big guy has caught the attention of the staff in Clearwater, and if it weren’t for Tommy Joseph, this guy could have been considered ready to take over at first base for the departed Ryan Howard. It will be interesting to see how long they can let him breath down Joseph’s neck before making a decision that would change the lives of both men involved.
Dylan Cozens, who I already mentioned, is a player who has basically come out of nowhere to be one of the hottest prospects in the system for the Phillies. The aforementioned number of home runs he and Rhys Hoskins combined for was 78. Hoskins had 38 of those, which means this guy surpassed him with 40 bombs of his own. Let’s put it into perspective for him. In 2014 and 2015 combined, in which he had a combined 929 at-bats between the two seasons, he hit a combined 24 home runs. In 2016, though, in 521 at-bats, he smashed those 40 home runs to go along with 125 RBI and a .276 batting average. Those 40 home runs not only led all of Double-A, but it led the whole entire Minor Leagues. Guess who was second? Hoskins. These two packed a whole lot of punch for the Reading Fightin’ Phils in 2016, and they’re both hoping to bring that power to the big leagues sooner than later. Cozens hasn’t started the Spring so hot up to this point, but look out for when he connects with his first shot. He seems to have a slightly easier path than Hoskins or Stassi, as the 6’6” outfielder will likely see the starting corner outfield spots open up before long thanks to the short contracts of the newly acquired veterans Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. Don’t be surprised if at some point we see Cozens in RF and Roman Quinn in LF alongside Odubel Herrera in CF. Nick Williams might eventually have something to say about that, but it will be fun to watch.
Nick Williams bring up another fun and interesting thought. I didn’t even include him in this short list of young Phillies talent, nor did I include JP Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and a few other young studs that figure to factor into the long-term plans for the Phillies. I also didn’t include any pitchers, which we know that the Phils are full of young arms.
The combination of all of this is what makes me so excited for what is to come with this team. Once you start talking about one good prospect, another comes to mind, and then another one, and another one… Alright that’s enough DJ Khaled references for my lifetime. You get what I’m saying.
All in all, the best is yet to come for this team, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. This Spring Training is just the beginning for so many players to show not only us, the fans, but the higher ups in the Philleis organization, that their time to shine is right around the corner.
Photo: brandong34 (Via: Flickr)
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