No one hears me say random things unfiltered about prospects more than my girlfriend. She has become good at picking out players I am not excited about and resent ranking or just overall don’t feel confident in my evaluations. No player has drawn this distinction more in recent seasons than Threshers right fielder Dylan Cozens.
Let’s start with some background on Cozens, he ranked #18 on my preseason Top 30, and fell out of the rankings midseason due to the influx of talent and greater growth from some players behind him (the GCL Phillies). He has not fallen into non-prospect territory, but he is well off the map for where many expect him to be. But let’s walk through the internal debate on him.
Pro-Cozens: He is only 21 years old (birthday was May 31) and he is batting .281/.331/.408 in hi-A after being a two sport player in HS. He has 18 stolen bases and has only been caught twice and while the power is not there in games, we have plenty of evidence to suggest that he has plenty of raw power.
Meh-Cozens: The age is less of a factor for Cozens than other players because he was physically mature at the time of the draft, since then he really hasn’t put on good weight and has actually gotten a bit bigger and stiffer. The two-sport history is a factor because there may be more growth in his approach and pitch recognition. But he is now in his 3rd straight year of declining walk rate.
Pro-Cozens: The walk rate decline is concerning, but he has also seen his strikeout rate decline sharply this year. He has also shown some growth has he is batting .337/.393/.515 in the second half up from .264/.313/.375 in the second half.
Meh-Cozens: The return of the power has answered some questions, but the walk and strikeout rates are pretty constant in both splits. But even with the increased power in the second half, we are talking about 5 home runs on the year and none vs LHPs.
Pro-Cozens: The struggles vs LHPs are real (though he does walk more against them), but it also means he is hitting RHPs at a .313/.355/.446 rate.
Meh-Cozens: It really lowers his ceiling if he is really a platoon player (though at least it is the correct side of the platoon). The lack of secondary skills concerns me, the stolen bases aren’t going to stick around because the speed isn’t there and the defense isn’t great despite the arm.
Pro-Cozens: The stolen bases won’t be there, but he isn’t a slug either, he is going to take extra bases and smartly steal a couple of bases a year. He is a better athlete in the outfield then a lot of people give him credit for, he also happens to have shared an outfield with good defenders like Carlos Tocci and Aaron Brown. His arm is above average and plays in right field, and might be a weapon in left field.
Meh-Cozens: He is only going to get bigger and slower, which likely moves him to first base long term, but that might be further out than is safe to project. Either way, outfield or first base the bat is really going to have to carry him and it is a really high bar he will need to reach.
So what do we have here.
Ultra Optimistic: Plus to plus plus power and average hit with passable right field defense, he will strikeout a fair amount but that is a borderline 1st division regular.
Optimistic: Above average to plus power with a fringe average hit tool, passable left fielder, he strikes out a lot and walks less than you would. This profile is a fringe regular or good platoon half.
Realistic: Below average hit tool, with above average power, near unplayable against LHPs, and he can fake RF/LF/1B. Given the lack of power in baseball, this is a profile that can help Cozens carve out a career on a major league bench for a good amount of time.
Likely: Cozens never figures out advanced breaking balls and never reaches the majors.
This all sounds morose, but in reality this is the life of non-elite prospects. Some make the adjustments and succeed and other flameout before the majors. I do think I am a bit harsh on Cozens focusing mostly on the realistic and likely scenarios as opposed to the optimistic that I do with most players. It is certainly part of the negativity described at the top of this post, it is a hard thing to keep objective across all players and let the analysis truly do the talking.
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