Dylan Cozens Looking To Round Out His Profile

Dylan Cozens leads the International League with 23 homers. (Photo by Andrew Woolley)

A mechanical tweak and a mental adjustment helped Dylan Cozens tap into the natural power of his 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame last spring and summer.

Cozens hit 38 home runs in 361 games in his first four minor league seasons. He then smacked 40 home runs for Double-A Reading in 2016, becoming the first Phillies minor leaguer to accomplish the feat since Ryan Howard hit 48 in 2004.

“Last year, I was kind of focusing on hitting the ball through the middle of the field and hitting the ball on the barrel in the air,” Cozens said. “Kind of having a fly ball approach as opposed to hitting the ball on the ground.”

While Cozens said he made the adjustment on his own, the Phillies coaching staff helped tweak things such as his approach at the plate and where he stands in the batter’s box.

Cozens posted a .276/.350/.591 line last year, but he struck out 186 times in 586 plate appearances and walked 61 times. The goal for this season was to work on the mental side of hitting, developing a strategy to take with him every time he comes up to bat.

“Just get the right stuff and put it in play with hard contact,” Cozens said.

The power surge has continued for Cozens this season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He leads the International League with 23 home runs and is on pace for another 30-plus-homer season, but at the same time, Cozens’ inconsistencies with contact have persisted.

Cozens’ has 136 strikeouts in 404 plate appearances, a strikeout rate close to 34 percent.

“His progress is right on line with where we expected,” said Andy Tracy, the Phillies’ minor league hitting coordinator. “Obviously everybody would like the numbers to be a little higher. From his standpoint, I know that he probably would like to, but his progression is right where it needs to be. He’s going to be a really, really good big league ballplayer.”

But scouts are mixed on Cozens because of the swing-and-miss issues and his struggles against lefthanders. He’s worked to make himself a playable outfielder in the corners with an average arm. But the power will be Cozens’ carrying tool.

Last season, 38 big league players hit 30 or more home runs. Eight of them had an on-base percentage below .310, five had an average under .240, and only three had a strikeout rate above 30 percent.

“I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to get to the next level and if good numbers come, they come,” Cozens said. “I just want to show the guys in the front office and higher up in the Phillies organization that I am ready.

“I have to put myself in a position where I’m that complete player they’re looking for, and hopefully they’ll give me a shot.”

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