2016 Phillies Report Card: Dylan Cozens

By this point, you’ve no doubt heard of Dylan Cozens, the biggest power threat in the organization and a recent addition to the Phillies prospect-laden 40-man roster. It’s not often a spoonerism so succinctly encompasses a player’s strength (quite literally) as it does for the gargantuan 22-year-old who posted a minor league-best 40 homers. Dylan Cozens spent his first full season in double-A Cylan Dozens of baseballs. Nearly three and a half dozen to be precise. At 6’5” 235 pounds, he’s a carbon copy of Carson Wentz sans pads, plus some lumber on his shoulder, and he puts every pound into his cuts from the left side. While that produces plus-plus power, it also causes problems with plate discipline, especially facing off-speed pitches.

His power played in homer-happy Reading where the jet streams are bountiful and the balls fly out like bee-bees, rocketing him up MLB.com’s Top 30 Phillies prospect list from No. 22 to No. 6 by season’s end. The home-road splits tell a similar tale.

He hit three-quarters of his homers at home, and his .744 home slugging percentage was essentially his road .766 OPS. ‘Nuff said.

It’s not the first time a Phillie farmhand has taken home the Joe Bauman Home Run Award for the top slugger in the minors since its initiation in 2002. In 2004, Ryan Howard led the minors with 46 home runs before earning a September call-up. And in 2012, none other than Darin Ruf, yes, that Darin Ruf, topped all minor leaguers with 38 homers. Both spent their seasons in Reading. That is as profound a disclaimer as could ever be made about the effects of FirstEnergy Stadium. Cozens’ power could be legit a la Howard, or it could simply mask an inability to string together professional at-bats at the next levels like Ruf, a perennial quad-A player.

Regardless of the venue, his home run spray chart is a thing of beauty. His ability to power the ball to all fields appealed to the Phillies’ brass since he took pre-Draft batting practice at Citizens Bank as an 18-year-old. Even then, he sprayed a few opposite field homers and launched two balls into the second deck in right. Pretend you didn’t know Cozens was a southpaw. Does this look like the spray chart of a power hitting right-hander with a keen ability to let the ball travel and muscle it out the opposite way, or a lock-and-load left-hander who can also push balls over the fence in left?screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-1-20-17-pm

We won’t know how his power translates until he spends a full season or two separated from power-friendly Reading. It’s very likely he spends spring training in major league camp and begins 2017 in Lehigh Valley. Both time and increased reps against tougher competition will speak volumes.

Even at his size, he displayed better-than-expected speed swiping 21 bases last season, fewer than only Roman Quinn in Reading. He is an athletic specimen the Phillies lured away from a dual-scholarship to play baseball and defensive end for Rich Rodriguez at the University of Arizona. His athleticism is not in question.

The flip side of his tremendous 2016 power display was a career-worst 31.7% strikeout rate. Beginning in a relatively narrow stance (especially for a mammoth 6’6” corner outfielder), his heavy weight transfer follows a leg kick that brings his knee nearly waist high and thigh almost parallel with the ground. That much weight and power moving forward exacerbates his inability to stay back and hit breaking balls. And apparently it’s a touchy subject for Cozens. Earlier this month in the Dominican Winter League, he socked a teammate who mocked him about his difficulty hitting the slow stuff, gifting him five stitches. Talk about someone you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a happy haymaker from. It wasn’t the first character question mark for Cozens either. He was suspended from his high school baseball team before he switched schools to Chapparal High School where he promptly broke Paul Konerko’s single-season home run record. Of the incident in question, Reuben Amaro Jr. said, “I think he got into a couple tussles. But that’s okay, I don’t have a problem with that.”

I don’t think it’s much to worry about, more of an anecdotal puzzle piece that may prove more revealing should that weakness hinder him from taking the next steps to becoming a competent big leaguer.

Overall, it wouldn’t be fair to hold the cozy confines of Reading, something he has no control over, against Cozens. It’s more of a slight asterisk, a take-this-with-a-grain-of-salt qualifier. His bloated strikeout rate was all that kept him from a straight A in my grade book.

Grade: A-

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12 comments

  1. Romus

    November 25, 2016 03:31 PM

    With the way the baseballs fly out of Reading in the summer heat…I guess it does give new meaning to the name FirstEnergy Stadium.

  2. Andrew R.

    November 25, 2016 05:09 PM

    Dylan perplexes me the most in our system. I love the improvement from year to year, but I’m deathly afraid he will be exposed at a higher level. Joey Gallo is a name that comes to mind. And Gallo did it at the triple-A level. I can’t help but wonder if Cozens’s peak value is right now and if we should try to make him the centerpiece of a deal somewhere. I’m not super bullish on him and fear he may only end up being a platoon piece. I’m interested to see where he ranks in MLBs top-100 this off season.

    Anybody have any thoughts on what kind of package you could get from a team if we sent Cozens their way?

    • Steve

      November 25, 2016 06:26 PM

      -
      -12

      There has been talk of a Trout trade in the comments before. Anyone want to take a crack? Cozens probably isnt enough to he the centerpiece of that trade but maybe the second prospect?

    • Romus

      November 26, 2016 09:27 AM

      Andrew R…..I think Dylan Cozens, as a LHB, is akin to what the Yankees have in Aaron Judge as a RHB. Big powerful OFers with a lot of swing and miss in their bat. Guys in the past with close to similar reputations….Adam Dunn, Russell Branyan, Mark Reynolds, even way back Dave Kingman, and someone who could be headed in that direction, Marlin’s RFer Stanton….are appealing to GMs and managers because one swing and it could be 2/3 runs.
      So right now, I think Cozens’ value is at its highest and going to AAA he could be a very attractive asset to another GM. Phillies also have plenty of MLB close-to-ready RHPs (Pivetta, Lively, Eshelman, Appel, or Pinto) that could be packaged with him.
      GMs seem to always want pitchers and they still like the power guys.

      • JD

        November 26, 2016 10:56 AM

        Take away the leg kick & watch through a mirror and DC’s swing & follow through looks a lot like Pat Burrell’s.

      • Andrew R.

        November 27, 2016 10:31 AM

        I agree, Romus. I just don’t think he has what we are looking for as an everyday right fielder at the mlb level. Adam Dunn is different than the others you mentioned because he was a lock for 90+ walks. I just don’t see that happening for Cozens. I think the time to make a move on him is now.

      • Steve

        November 27, 2016 10:59 AM

        Phils definitely have enough prospects to put together an appealing package. The question was what kind of return might it bring.

      • Romus

        November 27, 2016 02:56 PM

        Steve….not sure what kind of return it would bring, but one Baseball Ops Pres/GM who is always willing to go young and controlled is Billy Beane of the As when he is in his cost-controlled rebuild stage.

  3. Valdez

    November 25, 2016 11:51 PM

    Can’t wait for Spring Training. So many prospects to see. ST is going to be more fun to watch than the season until September!

  4. Jerry Spradlin

    November 26, 2016 09:48 AM

    One other issue for Cozens- his inability to hit lefties. He hit .197 vs lefties with 59 K’s in 127 AB’s. Need to see that split improve. Still, a really intriguing prospect.

    • Darin

      November 26, 2016 12:30 PM

      Buy him a new glove and platoon mate him with Tommy boy?

    • Ben Harris

      November 27, 2016 04:38 PM

      This was one thing I wanted to get into, but didn’t. .197/.262/.378/.640 is a poor left-left split. Hoskins, on the other hands, hits well against lefties and righties.

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