The Future is Unwritten: Dylan Cozens

It’s hard to find a nineteen year old who lacks any sort of physical projection but the Phillies have one in Dylan Cozens, the 6’6”, 235lb behemoth outfielder who spent the 2013 season in Williamsport. Cozens, a second round pick in the 2012 draft out of a Scottsdale, AZ high school, was recruited as a Defensive End by Arizona State before the Phillies signed him away from the Sun Devils for a bonus just south of $660,000.

Over the next two and a half months, lots of the reports you’re going to get from me involve players who have almost a half decade between where they are now and where they’ll need to get before they’re Major Leaguers. Know now that evaluating Cozens and players like him comes with an extraordinarily high amount of risk and uncertainty and that mostly, players like this are evaluated purely on raw tools, not tool utility. It’s a lot like projecting the path of a hurricane. The farther away you try to project, the wider the delta of potential paths branches out into oblivion.

But Cozens most certainly has some tools. The most explosive of those is plus-plus (70) raw power which comes from an enviable combination of strength, bat speed and impressive natural leverage in the swing. The question that both I and most scouts seem to have is whether or not he’ll hit enough to tap into that raw pop in game action. Th swing isn’t a hopeless mess, nor is it the epitome of athletic beauty. Cozens has quiet, simple feet and loads his hands fine (though I have seen them drift at times) but the sometimes long swing is rather stiff and clunky and I’ve only ever seen him pull the ball. Someone of this size will see little mechanical issues magnified by lever length. Cozens’ head will jerk around and he’ll lose sight of the ball at times, too. There’s a good amount of swing and miss here. I’ve got him pegged as a 25/30 hitter right now with an extreme, extreme ceiling up at 40. If he gets there and his approach at the plate isn’t atrocious then the Phillies are looking at a pretty useful offensive weapon. Do I think he gets there? No, not quite. I’ve always been told by people who are much better at this stuff than I am to “bet on the athletes” since players who are athletic and show great control over their bodies are the ones who can use that control to manifest the adjustments you’d like them to make. Despite his two-sport pedigree, Cozens isn’t a great athlete and so it’s hard for me to envision him tweaking all the things that need tweaking to make him hit Major League pitching with regularity.

Currently a right fielder, Cozens and his substantial bulk are likely to move to first base at some point. Despite plus arm strength, he’s already a sub-par defender in right. It’s possible he keeps his body in check and his feel for the outfield improves and he becomes passable out there. That, to me, isn’t very likely. I think it’s more likely Cozens ends up at first base where his offensive output will have to carry more weight than his body currently does.

So, to recap: A well below average hit tool right now that has a chance to improve though Cozens’ “athleticism” undeniably dilutes my optimism for its growth; plus-plus raw power which is lovely to have and could carry him; a plus arm; poor defense in right field that requires a daunting amount of work just to maintain, let alone improve. That just leaves the approach, an astonishingly important part of Cozens’ developmental equation. It’s a very difficult thing to judge a teenager’s approach, dare I say it is a futile exercise. We’ll just say it’s something to watch as he matures and climbs.

I think the ceiling here is that of a very solid everyday player but, as stated above, there’s enough risk here to make an underwriter vomit.

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