Dylan Cozens Made Big Changes To Get Back On Track
A host of Phillies prospects advanced from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to the majors in 2017. Slugging outfielder Dylan Cozens did not.
"I didn’t deserve it,” he said.
Cozens was the Eastern League MVP in 2016 when he hit .276/.350/.591 with 40 home runs and 125 RBIs at Double-A Reading. He moved to Triple-A last season and saw his batting average slip to .210, though his power remained intact with 27 homers.
The 23-year-old Cozens needs to make more contact and dramatically reduce his 36 percent strikeout rate to show his power more consistently.
More contact is the reason Cozens hit the weight room this winter. He added 25 pounds of muscle to his already hulking 6-foot-6 frame. He arrived to camp at an all-muscle 270 pounds.
"Just to have easier power,” Cozens said of the added strength. "The plan is easier swings with two strikes.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler is all for an easier swing.
"If all my muscles are firing and my jaws are clenched and I’m going full speed ahead, I might not be running as fast as if I was more like a cheetah, right?” Kapler said. "That’s the message we would send to Dylan. You’re more a cheetah than a brute. Let it fly, be easy, and that’s going to create loud contact for him because he’s as strong as any individual I’ve been around. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guy with that level of strength and power ever on a baseball field before.”
Cozens was recruited to play defensive end by Arizona, but instead signed with the Phillies as a 2012 second-round pick out of high school in Scottsdale, Ariz. After his dominant season in 2016, he was grouped with Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and J.P. Crawford as the prospects most likely to make the jump to Philadelphia in 2017. They all went while Cozens stayed back.
"It was terrible,” he said of his 2017 season. "I lost my core mechanics, doubted myself. Mentally and mechanics-wise, I felt like it was a mess. I was all over the place.
"I know I can play better than I did last year.”
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• Second baseman Scott Kingery played all over the field in big league camp—third base, shortstop, outfield—as the Phillies try to find a way to work his bat into the lineup.