The worst team in baseball is about to receive a needed jolt.
The Phillies called up No. 4 prospect Rhys Hoskins on Thursday and will insert him into the lineup to make his major league debut tonight against the Mets. Hoskins, 24, hit .284/.385/.581 with 29 home runs and 91 RBIs at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, following a 38-homer, 116-RBI season at Double-A last year.
He joins an offense that has the third-fewest home runs in the majors this season (113) despite playing in one of the most hitter-friendly home parks in baseball. Overall the Phillies' 42-69 record is the worst in the game.
Hoskins is a first baseman but began playing left field the last three games at Triple-A. With Aaron Altherr out with a nagging hamstring injury and Tommy Joseph producing at first base, Hoskins is slated to play left field for the Phillies for now.
Hoskins is, first and foremost, a hulking human. The Sacramento State product is built like a linebacker at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds with a broad chest, chiseled arms and thick, muscular frame.
He generates easy power when he connects, punishing balls to all fields both when he elevates and drives it on a line. Where Hoskins stands out is, unlike many other baseball players so large and muscular, he generates elite bat speed. He consistently posted the fastest bat speeds at the Futures Game, surrounded by the game's elite prospects, and he matches it with patience, strike-zone discipline, and hitters instincts. Hoskins strikes out very rarely for a power hitter, and overall has 64 walks against 75 strikeouts this season.
Hoskins has further worked to turn himself into a serviceable defender at first. He has good hands that make him reliable picking up scoops and grounders, and he has improved his range, although it would never be considered elite.
Evaluators have generally been skeptical of his ability to play the outfield because of his size and lack of speed. He is not the most agile or quick-twitch of an athlete, and the last three games he played in left field were the first three of his professional career. He played left field as a freshman at Sac State.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Hoskins has the combination of power, bat speed, and strike-zone discipline to make an instant impact in the majors offensively. He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order stalwart and could reach that status quickly on a talent-deprived Phillies squad.
His lack of experience in left field could lead to some misadventures, but he has surprised people before.