|Age||Likely 2015 Level||Top 50|
Since 2005 the first base position on the major league level has been populated by Ryan Howard and his 334 home runs. As we all know Howard has been declining since 2006 so it is about time a new first baseman came along, unfortunately the minor league depth chart is not the place to look. Rhys Hoskins is likely the only player on the list who has any chance of making majors, but he is no guarantee to have a major league career. The good news is that first base might be the easiest position to fill. While not on the list Maikel Franco, Dylan Cozens, Zach Green, and Luis Encarnacion all could end up at the position long term.
Best Prospect: Rhys Hoskins
Hoskins was the Phillies’ 5th round pick in the 2014 draft. He was good out in the Cape Cod League before mashing 12 HRs in his junior year. The concern is that Hoskins has never really faced premium pitching and lacks strong natural tools. However, Hoskins has plus raw power and a good feel for what he is doing at the plate. He got off to a slow start in Williamsport before having a strong August. Given the lack of first baseman in the system it is very likely Hoskins makes the jump to Clearwater to start the year.
2015 Impact: Chris McGuiness
McGuiness is not really a prospect and unlikely to make the major leagues, but there really isn’t anyone to put here. The major league first base time will likely go to Howard, Ruf, and Franco.
Sleeper: Brock Stassi
Stassi hit .232/.302/.327 in Reading last year in 489 plate appearances. However, he has a career ERA of 0.00 over 3.1 IP with 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. Stassi was a pitcher in college, so if you want to see a first baseman pitch he is your sleeper pick.
Player of Interest: Art Charles
I am not going to pretend that Charles is a major league prospect, but in many ways the hulking first baseman is going to be interesting in 2015. Last year he hit 19 home runs in the Florida State League, and while Clearwater leans a bit towards hitters, it is nothing like Reading. The thing that interests me about Charles are his splits. He was putrid against LHPs, hitting only one home run off of them and striking out at an alarming rate, but with a .252/.332/.500 line against RHPs he should do damage in AA. The other thing is his first half/second half splits. The first thing you see is that his batting average dropped from .242 to .213, but what actually happened is his strikeout rate went up a tiny bit, his walk rate made a large jump and his ISO went from .147 to .258. Overall it could go poorly in Reading, or just be really fun.