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Phillies Minor Thoughts:
Role: Major League Regular
Risk: High – First base only prospects have a long history of failure, but Hoskins has done nothing but hit which sets him on the right path for success. He has shown enough patience and power that he may be able to carve out at least a platoon role if he can’t reach his ceiling.
Summary: There are few prospect profiles as critically judged as right handed, right throwing, college first basemen. The margin for error is so small, because the player is on the short side of the platoon with high expectations for their bat. And from the moment they enter pro-ball, they will be one of oldest and most advanced bats at their level. The solution to all of this worry is for the player to just hit. Outside of a few weeks after being drafted, that is all Rhys Hoskins has done in pro-ball. In 2015 he was the top hitter in the South Atlantic League before being promoted to Clearwater where he was the top batter in the league in the second half. This winter Rhys went to Australia, where he has stayed among the league leaders in most offensive categories. Hoskins’ physical tools don’t jump off the field; he has solid bat speed, plus raw power, and a good swing, but none of them are elite. Hoskins does have a good approach and good feel for the game at the plate, which puts him in a good position to make solid contact. In 2015 the Phillies added a bit of leg kick, which allowed him to better tap into his raw power. The result is a bat that could draw a good amount of walks with 20+ home run power and a solid batting average. It isn’t a bat that looks like an MVP, but it could work to make Hoskins a major league regular. While defense is not going to carry a first baseman to the majors, Hoskins is a good defender at first base and is fairly athletic. He has an above average arm that is mostly wasted at first base, but he can start the double play if needed. Hoskins is a smart baserunner, but his speed is not going to translate to anything more than the occasional extra base or a steal off of a slow pitcher. Because of his profile and lack of standout skills, it will continue to be a tough road for Hoskins, with him having to prove it at every level. If Hoskins keeps hitting like he has, he will get his chance at the majors, maybe as soon as next season. If he stumbles, his stock could plummet, but a good year against top level pitching could see his risk decrease dramatically.
2016 Outlook: After mastering the Florida State League, Hoskins will almost certainly be the starting first baseman for Reading. The Reading ballpark may inflate Hoskin’s stats somewhat, especially his power numbers, so that will be important to account for. If Hoskins hits in Reading, he could see himself pushed in Lehigh Valley and then to Philly. With only Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf in front of him, the path to the major league first base job is fairly open.
What Happened: Hoskins was a small school first baseman who mashed in both his junior year and in Cape Cod League the summer before. He started his pro career slowly in Williamsport, and then started hitting in second half and hasn’t stopped. He has above average to plus power, with a good feel for hitting. Hoskins’ approach has actually been better in Clearwater after his promotion.
What Next: While his tools are solid, Hoskins lacks any elite attributes that make him safe going forward. But there is enough there that he can be regular if he just keeps hitting. That will be the narrative from this point forward for Hoskins, can he just hit his way all the way to the majors.
Role: Solid Regular
Risk: High – Hoskins has a relatively advanced bat that should carry him into the high minors, however as a first baseman, he is going to hit consistently at every stop along the way.
Summary: Hoskins is going to be a trendy sleeper prospect in The Phillies system now that he has been pushed out of most Top 30s. There are good reasons to believe in the Phillies 5th round pick in the 2014 draft. After getting off to a slow start in Williamsport, Hoskins proceeded to rake for the rest of the year (hit .289/.373/.478 in August), and he hit even better away from Bowman Field (.298/.380/.529). He continued the hot hitting right into instructs. Hoskins has a good feel for contact, but he doesn’t have elite coordination or bat speed. He does have at least plus power and a good approach, so there is the raw potential for his bat to work at first. On defense, Hoskins is a good defender at first base, and pre-draft there were some that thought he could play the outfield. The real thing holding down Hoskins is the profile; as a first baseman he has to hit his offensive ceiling and then keep proving it at every level. If Hoskins starts 2015 in Clearwater, he can begin to answer these questions and could move fairly quickly, he just doesn’t have any margin for error.
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