This One Is Going to Hurt, Hoskins’ Jaw Injury Force Cozens to the Majors
It didn’t take long for the buzz of an exciting call up for Mitch Walding to wear off. It appears that Rhys Hoskins was misdiagnosed when it looked like he had dodged major injury from a foul ball to the face, because instead of being day to day he has a fractured jaw and will be out for an unknown period of time. As I detailed yesterday, the Phillies don’t actually have a lot of options for position player call ups. So the Phillies are calling up the one guy I said was not ready in 2012 2nd round pick Dylan Cozens.
It doesn’t take a scouting eye to understand why Cozens was always an interesting prospect. He is an absolutely massive human being. In 2016, Cozens led the minors in home runs with 40 in 134 games. In 2017, he hit 27 while hitting .210 in AAA. Cozens hits baseballs very far distances. The real question has been, “Can he do anything else?”. The results have been mixed. He has 25 walks in 50 games this year, which has him on a career high walk rate, keeping his on base percentage above .300 despite pitiful batting averages. He has a strong arm in the outfield, which does somewhat offset range and routes that are not ideal. He won’t kill a team defensively, but he isn’t going to win any gold gloves. Cozens also steals bases despite below average speed and is generally a good base runner. He stole 20 bases in back to back years, a feat he is unlikely to repeat, but if pitchers aren’t quick to the plate or lazy about holding him on, he will steal a few.
The negatives are just as massive as the player. His swing can get long and slow, and his bat is not particularly quick. The consequences are major holes in a massive strike zone. Cozens has 75 strikeouts in 50 games a K% nearing 40%. Pitchers have found success going soft away, hard in, hard up, and at times just plain soft. His approach and pitch recognition have put him in bad situations despite a mindset that allows him to be patient at the plate. When he does put the ball in play (and not out of the park) he is a pretty heavy pull hitter with his ground balls. Overall it is a very Ryan Howard-esque batted ball profile. Additionally, Cozens has been especially horrid against LHPs with a .143/.275/.214 line this year.
What the Phillies are hoping to get out of Cozens is a 4th outfielder who can occasionally start, and hopefully take over pinch home run duty from Nick Williams. Cozens is hitting righties fairly well this year with a .268/.352/.554 line. If Cozens ambushes a couple of mistake pitches, the Phillies will be happy.
This also doesn’t appear to be a long trip to the majors for Cozens. He is not particularly lighting up AAA, but he is on the 40 man roster. So much like Aaron Altherr in 2014, Cozens is up until some other things sort out, in this case it is probably J.P. Crawford returning from injury. Once Crawford is back, Cozens likely returns to AAA, Scott Kingery becomes the 4th outfield and backup everything. Mitch Walding moves to being the primary LH bench bat and backup 3B. That move may be less than a week away, but for now Dylan Cozens is a major leaguer.