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Thoughts on Phillies outfield prospect Dylan Cozens

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A surprise on Fangraphs’ KATOH prospect list, Phillies outfielder Dylan Cozens offers both obvious strengths and significant weaknesses

Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Yesterday we made a brief exploration of the Fangraphs’ KATOH prospect list, which was posted by Chris Mitchell at Fangraphs earlier this week. If you haven’t read it, you should do so.

Mitchell presented two versions of the list, one which incorporates scouting information and one that’s based entirely on the numbers. The big surprise on the latter version of the list was the ranking of Phillies outfielder Dylan Cozens as the number one prospect, ahead of such luminaries as Andrew Benintendi and Dansby Swanson.

OK, so, Dylan Cozens. Who is this guy?

Cozens was drafted in the second round in 2012 out of high school in Arizona. Despite five summers of minor league experience, he is still just 22, one reason why KATOH likes him. He had a monster power season in 2016, hitting 38 doubles and 40 homers for Double-A Reading in the Eastern League, with an overall slash line of .276/.350/.591. He even stole 21 bases in 22 attempts.

Obviously the power is attractive. If you see him play he certainly stands out on the field, a robust 6-6, 235 pounder with home run thump from the left side.

Despite the power production Cozens doesn’t rank overly highly on prospect lists. Part of the reason is contact. He does make some effort to work counts and drew 61 walks, but he also whiffed 186 times. Despite the stolen base totals, his pure running speed is nothing special. We’re not looking at Barry Bonds here, although the fact that he can swipe bases at such a strong percentage despite mediocre running speed says something positive about Cozens’ instincts.

Over at PhilliesMinorThoughts, Matt Winkelman broke down Cozens’ game in great detail yesterday, pointing out the aforementioned strengths and weaknesses and showing how Cozens’ unique combination of attributes makes him “the perfect player to break KATOH.” Winkelman’s article is worth a close read and I urge you to do so. Focus in particular on Winkelman’s analysis of how Cozens was able to take great advantage of his friendly home park at Reading. Even applying a typical park adjustment may not be enough in his case.

Cozens will go to Triple-A this year and work on contact and handling left-handed pitching, his two big weaknesses. I think Winkelman is correct to advise caution in evaluating Cozens, who will clearly need to make adjustments as he approaches the majors, but given his age I do find him quite intriguing in the medium and longer terms. There’s some Adam Dunn-like power upside here, if the contact and platoon issues don’t eat him up.