From the Minor League Ball mailbag:
“I saw Rhys Hoskins in spring training and he was a beast. He’s mashing in AAA. Does he mash in the majors too?”——Ken W., Meriden, Connecticut
Indeed Rhys Hoskins has mashed, hitting 38 homers last year in Double-A, then hitting ..286 (6-for-21) in spring training but with two doubles and three homers. So far through 11 games at Lehigh Valley in the Triple-A International League, Hoskins is hitting .324/.452/.676 with three homers, three doubles, and a 7/7 BB/K ratio in 34 at-bats.
I had Hoskins ranked sixth on the pre-season 2017 Philadelphia Phillies top 20 prospects list with the following comment:
6) Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Grade B-/B: Age 23, fifth round pick in 2014 from Sacramento State; hit .281/.377/.566 with 38 homers, 71 walks, 125 strikeouts in 498 at-bats in Double-A; raw power earns 55 grades but he got to it a lot in ’16; decent feel for the strike zone, will whiff some but also draws walks; lacks speed and flexibility, defense at first base is average at best, a problem in a league with no DH; ETA late 2017.
Nothing that’s happened so far in 2017 alters that. Some swing changes he made last year to get to his power more often look permanent and not just a result of his friendly 2016 home park at Reading. There’s still some concern that his swing can get too long but so far pitchers haven’t found a way to exploit it. He’s limited to first base with the glove due to lack of range, but least he catches what he can get to.
Projection systems think the power is real but have concerns about batting average and OBP, Steamer projecting him at .245/.314/.433 and the more optimistic PECOTA predicting .247/.323/.470.
I think this is about right: don’t expect him to hit much higher than .250, but he can mash 20+ homers with sufficient playing time. At age 24, that gives up something to build on and by his late 20s he could be a highly productive slugger.