The Phillies outfield is about to become a lot more crowded.
Rhys Hoskins, the slugging first baseman for the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, found himself starting in left field for the first time in his professional career on Monday night, and again last night.
Why the change in position?
Tommy Joseph is currently blocking the path to first base, and with the way he’s been playing this season, it can be argued that he deserves to stay there. I’m of the mindset that Hoskins is the future and should get the majority of the playing time, but that’s not how these things work.
A couple of days ago, Aaron Altherr landed on the disabled list for the second time this season with a hamstring injury. I would imagine the Phillies would be more cautious this time with him. After all, he’s been the Phillies best hitter this season, and in a lost year, there’s no sense in rushing him back.
Enter Rhys Hoskins.
While he won’t be an outfielder in the future with the club, this opportunity seems to be the quickest way to get him to The Show and face some major league pitching. And the number 71 prospect in baseball deserves to be in the big leagues.
This season with AAA, Hoskins is hitting .280 with 28 homeruns and 86 RBI. Those 28 homeruns are a single season record for the IronPigs. And these numbers aren’t a fluke either – Hoskins is the epitome of consistency.
In 454 games played in the minors since he was drafted in 2014, Hoskins has a .286 average, 92 home runs, and 332 RBI. Last year with AA Reading, Hoskins smashed 38 long balls. It’s clear he has found his power stroke. Which is something the Phillies could use considering they’ve hit 113 home runs this season, good for 28th in the majors.
Phillies fans aren’t the only ones who think he’s going to be a critical part of the ballclub for years to come. Hoskins, along with teammate Scott Kingery, was a member of the U.S. team at the Futures Game All-Star weekend in Miami last month.
With all that being said, Hoskins is still in the minors. When he gets called up is anyone’s guess. It could be any day now. Or it could come with the September call ups.
But one thing I don’t want to see is the Phillies call him up and he rides the bench. A guy like Hoskins – really most of the guys who get called up from the minors – needs regular at bats. It does him or his development no good to be in Phillies pinstripes but not contribute on an everyday basis.
Sadly, the Phillies have a tendency to do this to their prospects. Remember Darin Ruf? He was up and down so many times that I truly believe his development was ruined by it all.
But it does seem the Phillies have learned from it this season. Altherr and Nick Williams have both gotten regular at bats in 2017. And they’ve both run with the opportunity, making themselves sure locks to be on the Opening Day roster for 2018.
Whether we see Hoskins tomorrow or September 1st, it looks like the Phillies will give him all of the at bats he needs. And when he does get called up, we’ll be getting our first looks at the potential 2018 Opening Day first baseman for the Phillies.
Photo: Arturo Pardavila III (via Flickr)