BEST PLAYER: For several years, the Phillies have considered Dylan Cozens to have the most upside in the organization. Four years after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft and passing on a chance to play baseball and football at Arizona, the hulking 6-foot-6, 250-pound right fielder is putting things together at Double-A Reading.
Cozens hit .277/.363/.562 with 19 homers, 19 doubles and 55 RBIs through 70 games. The 22-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., prep product also stole 13 bases in 14 tries and had shown an average outfield arm.
Mammoth lefthanded power to all fields is Cozens’ calling card, but director of player development Joe Jordan believes Cozens can cut down on his 30 percent strikeout rate and hit for more average.
“We challenged him to become more of a complete player, and he’s doing that,” Jordan said. “He’s impacting games with his defense, on the bases and in the batter’s box, and we think he’s still just scratching the surface.”
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Righthander Ben Lively is a determined, competitive guy. When the Phillies informed him he would start back at Reading this season, he did not protest. “I think deep down inside he knew he was ready for a big year,” Jordan said.
Lively went 7-0, 1.87 in nine starts at Double-A to earn a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he started 3-0, 2.45 in his first six starts. His WHIP in 15 starts between the two levels was 0.87.
A fourth-round pick by the Reds out of Central Florida in 2013, Lively earned minor league pitcher of the year honors for Cincinnati in 2014. The Phillies acquired him for Marlon Byrd in December 2014. Lively had an inconsistent 2015, but he reported to camp in February ready to improve.
“He’s made adjustments to help him drive the ball down in the strike zone more,” Jordan said, “and he’s added power to his breaking ball, and his slider is better.”
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Outfielder Cornelius Randolph was rated as the best high school hitter in the 2015 draft. The Phillies jumped on him with the 10th overall pick and assigned him to low Class A Lakewood in 2016.
Randolph started slowly then went down after just 12 games with a nagging muscle strain behind his right shoulder. The Phillies hope he can return by mid-July.