It’s no secret that the Phillies have had a rough season. They’re currently 46-80, and they’ve gone through ten losing streaks of four games or more this season. It’s been dire, but there’s been reason to hope: their minor league system, especially the Triple-A team, is stocked with difference-making prospects.
Until August 10, one of those prospects was first baseman Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies called him up to be their left fielder, despite only playing a handful of games in left field before he went to the majors. That’s how much the Phillies wanted Hoskins’ bat in the lineup, and their gamble is paying off.
Since his call-up, Hoskins has absolutely smashed the baseball. He’s played in 15 games for the Phillies and has a .283/.406/.785 triple slash with six singles, a double, and eight home runs. Hoskins currently has more home runs than any other kind of hit, and it’s earned him a spot in the record books. He’s just the third player in MLB history to hit 8 homers in their first 15 games, tied with Carlos Delgado and Trevor Story. And he’s the only player in MLB history to do this.
Complete list of players in MLB history with 8 HR and 19 RBI in their first 15 games.
That's it. That's the whole list.
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) August 25, 2017
What makes this even more amazing is that Hoskins didn’t get a single hit until his fourth game. He played three hitless games, lashed a single on August 13, and then hit his first homer on August 14. (He also hit his second homer on August 14, just a few innings after the first one.) In his last 11 games, he’s hit .350/.458/.975. His eight homers are just 11 off the team lead of 19.
His homers aren’t cheap shots, either. He drilled one pitch in Wednesday’s game into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park.
"There's no way anyone can hit it this far." – Person in the second deck, probably.
Wow, Rhys. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/VgczAGzqWZ
— CSN Philly (@CSNPhilly) August 24, 2017
Smashing dingers is nothing new for Hoskins. He spent most of 2017 doing just that for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He hit 29 homers for the IronPigs, which is a club record. He was the leader in homers for the International League until August 23, 13 days after he stopped playing in the minors.
Hoskins has played first base essentially his entire career, but he’s taking some time in left field for a few reasons. First, the Phillies need outfielders. Daniel Nava and Odubel Herrera are on the disabled list, and the front office has seen more than enough of bench guy Brock Stassi. And second, the Phillies have a first baseman named Tommy Joseph who isn’t going anywhere until the offseason, despite efforts to trade him before the deadline.
Keeping Rhys Hoskins in left field doesn’t seem to be a long term plan. Joseph has been less-than-impressive since inheriting the starting duties at first base (.243/.296/.440 with 19 homers in 2017), and even if Hoskins hadn’t gotten off to this historic start, he’s got a much higher ceiling than Joseph. Putting Hoskins in left was partially to fill a hole in the major league club, but also to reward him. He hit all those homers and also slashed .284/.385/.581 with 24 doubles in Triple-A, so he more than earned his call-up.
A hot start is fun, but 15 games can’t predict the future. It’ll be awhile before anyone truly knows what kind of player Hoskins will be in the majors. But for a team like the Phillies, on their way to losing 100+ games, Hoskins is a breath of fresh air — and maybe even a sign of a promising future filled with a lot less losing.
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