CLEARWATER, Fla.—Phillies hitting guru Charlie Manuel is high on 24-year-old first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
“He’s got a knack for driving in runs,” Manuel said.
Manuel said that last spring, after Hoskins collected 90 RBIs at two Class A levels in 2015—but the point stands. He continued to knock in runs in 2016, when he amassed 116 RBIs to go along with 38 home runs at Double-A Reading.
“It’s a lot easier to drive in runs when there are guys on base,” Hoskins said with a laugh. “Last year, I was lucky with Roman Quinn, J.P. Crawford and Jesmuel Valentin in front of me. It seemed like they were on base every time I came up.”
Hoskins, a 2014 fifth-round pick from Sacramento State, has produced an elite .228 isolated slugging percentage in three pro seasons. His power earned him an invite to big league camp this spring.
“He looks like he has a chance to be a good hitter,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after watching Hoskins early in camp. “We were told he has a good idea at the plate and that’s what it looks like.”
Hoskins is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound righthanded batter who won the Eastern League rookie-of-the-year award in 2016. In any other year, he might have been the MVP, but that honor went to 40-homer teammate Dylan Cozens, another hulking power bat. The two big men fed off each other.
“I think that’s always going to be there as long as we’re on the same team,” Hoskins said. “It makes it a little more fun, especially if we’re going back and forth like we did last year. It probably means we’re winning a lot of games.”
Hoskins projects to start at first base and Cozens in right field at prospect-laden Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In the meantime, Hoskins is absorbing everything he can in big league camp.
“The most interesting thing for me is seeing how guys prepare for a game,” Hoskins said. “(I see) how they go about their daily routine and what they need to do to be the best they can when they step on the field.”
• Righthander Victor Arano was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that could keep him out of action until the end of camp.
• Second baseman Scott Kingery made an impression early in big league camp. “He looks like he’s on a fast track,” Mackanin said. Kingery projects to open at Double-A.
— Jim Salisbury covers the Phillies for CSNPhilly.com