In another bleak season for the Phillies, who have the major leagues’ worst record, Hoskins has offered hope. So have Nick Williams, an outfielder promoted from the minors in late June, starter Aaron Nola and a few emerging relievers. Catcher Jorge Alfaro hit .356 in August, and another top prospect, shortstop J. P. Crawford, should arrive soon.
“I tell you what, we have a lot of young talent in this room, and in the rooms that I’ve been in the last couple of years,” Hoskins said. “If those guys develop into the players they’re capable of being, it could be a pretty special group in the next couple of years.”
As Philadelphia fixates on the start of the Eagles’ season, Hoskins’s at-bats have been a pleasant distraction. Like many young players now, he consciously tries to avoid ground balls, with help from a leg kick he added after rookie ball at the urging of Andy Tracy, the minor league hitting coordinator.
“It allows me to get some rhythm at the plate,” said Hoskins, who is 6 feet 4 and 225 pounds. “Before, I was really stagnant, and it’s just gotten me on time more. I’ve been able to hit the ball out front a lot more, which I think has led to — I don’t want to say more fly balls, but there’s not a lot of hits on the ground here, especially for a guy like me. So I think, to maximize success, you’ve gotta hit the ball in the gaps.”
Klentak said the Phillies have been especially impressed with Hoskins’s hitting eye.
“Both in the big leagues and at Triple-A, he has taken pitches with such confidence,” Klentak said. “When you see a player with confident takes, that’s usually a sign of a player who really understands the strike zone. He sees pitches out of the hand, spits on pitches just off the plate. In addition to elite power and bat-to-ball skill, his pitch recognition and plate discipline are a big reason he’s doing what he’s doing.”
Hoskins’s pace slowed a bit after his 11th home run….