We all know what Rhys Hoskins has been doing. If you’d like to catch up here are some posts and pods to read and listen:
John Stolnis did an all-Rhys Hoskins episode of his Felske Files podcast; Cormican did a piece after Hoskins launched his 10th home run in just 17 games; Liz Roscher wrote about the triple play that Hoskins started along with his 11th home run in 18 games, both of which were in the same game; Stolnis and Justin Klugh then did yet another Hoskins-driven episode of the Felske Files; Cormican recapped Hoskins’ post-high school days up until his time in Williamsport.
All of this is fantastic and you should read and listen to them all if you have not already.
But while we bask in the glory of Hoskins, we also must backtrack and take a look at his full season minor league statistics and scouting reports.
The 2015 campaign was Hoskins’ first go-at-it in full season ball after spending all of 2014 in Williamsport. This is when Hoskins started to burst onto the scene with some decent power and good on-base skills.
As a 22-year old, Hoskins started the season in Lakewood and hit well. He slashed .322/.397/.525 with 9 HR, a 9.0% BB%, 17.2% K%, .418 wOBA, and 161 wRC+ in 290 plate appearances. While Hoskins was with the BlueClaws, Baseball Prospectus evaluator Tucker Blair wrote up a scouting report after seeing Hoskins for two games in mid June. Here is what he had to say:
Plus bat speed; quiet hands; moderate barrel control; leveraged swing; extension; back shoulder will drop ocassionally; hips torque without leaking; leg kick with moderate load; stays balanced; seasoned approach; recognizes spin.
Plus raw power; leveraged swing with plus bat speed; will play to average in-game.
4.50+ home to first; speed is not a part of his game.
Agile for a large player; displays average range; soft hands; first base profile.
Plus arm strength; not an asset as a first basemen.
Blair also wrote that Hoskins’ ETA was 2017 while his realistic role would be a below-average regular/bench bat.
At this point of Hoskins’ career, I think it was fair to grade him this way. He was a single-A, 22-year old, first base-only prospect flashing decent but not great power.
He was then promoted to Clearwater midway through the season and put up almost identical numbers. Hoskins hit .317/.394/.510 with 8 HR, a 10.5% BB%, 17.7% K%, .421 wOBA, and 174 wRC+ in 277 plate appearances. There were no additional reports on Hoskins during his time with the Threshers, but since he posted numbers very similar to those that he put up in Lakewood, his stock rose a bit.
Obviously, 2016 was the season where the Hoskins hype started to ramp up quite a bit. He was playing in Reading which is notorious for its hitter-friendly park. In total Hoskins hit .281/.377/.566 with 38 HR, a 12.1% BB%, 21.2% K%, .414 wOBA, and 159 wRC+ in 589 plate appearances.
As is tradition with all prospects who pass through Reading, we must take a look at his home and away splits.
Home: 70 G, 303 PA, .292/.396/.636/1.032, 9 2B, 25 HR, 41 BB, 59 K
Away: 65 G, 286 PA, .270/.357/.496/.853, 17 2B, 13 HR, 30 BB, 66 K
The Reading effect on Hoskins was not as extreme as it was on other prospects. Because of this, Hoskins started to gain some momentum as the potential first baseman of the future for the Phillies.
Double-A is the league where scouting reports start to die down for players as much of what they possess has developed or started to develop. Hoskins was reported on yet again by Baseball Prospectus, however, and this time they were a little more down on him than they were in 2015.
Adam Hayes was the evaluator this time for Hoskins and he saw him eight times over the course of April-August of 2016. Here is what he had to say:
Front leg coil starts load, long stride shifting weight forward; quiet hands, minimal hand load, some length to the bat path, above-average bat speed; backside collapse adds loft to level swing path; swing-and-miss tendencies, velocity will beat him in-zone, expands away; patient approach, will take walks; hunts fastballs, limited production against off-speed, works middle and pull-side, heavy fly ball tendency
Above-average raw, predominantly pull power, strength to carry to middle of the field; pull-heavy, fly ball approach maximizes utility, anticipate dip in production with more exposure to offspeed offerings, larger parks
4.53 home-to-first, plodding stride; competent baserunner, will take extra bases given opportunity, will attempt to sneak occasional stolen base
First base-limited, inconsistent glove, below-average range
Below-average arm strength, tendency to place throws high
So to recap the changes in grading, Hoskins’ baserunning/speed was increased to 30 from 20; his glove was reduced to 45 from 50; and his arm was reduced to 40 from 60. Hayes also reduced Hoskins’ bat speed to above-average from plus and his raw power to above-average from plus. The MLB ETA was also changed to 2018 and his realistic role was downgraded to bench/platoon bat.
I somewhat understand downgrading Hoskins during his time with Reading. His strikeout rate did spike a little bit and was the highest of his career, but then again he did blast 38 home runs in an epic, season-long battle with fellow Bash Brother Dylan Cozens. Hoskins was also 1.3 years younger than the double-A league average age, so that wasn’t a factor to fall back on either. I am curious as to which eight games Hayes saw him in, though.
Hoskins’ 2017 was going to be the final boss of sorts as he would either flourish or flop in triple-A. He needed to show the same power that he did in double-A, mainly to prove that the Reading effect did not take him as yet another victim. He also needed to try to reduce his K% back to where it had sat in his first two years of minor league ball.
Long story short: Hoskins did all that... and more.
He posted a minor league career low K% of 15.8%, and career highs in BB% (13.5%), SLG (.581), and ISO (.297). Not to mention that he also hit 29 home runs and 24 doubles in 475 plate appearances. His triple-A slash line ended at .284/.385/.581.
As I mentioned above, players in the high minors are usually not scouted for new information. Rather, scouts take what they reported from previous seasons, compare it to what the player is doing, and make skill set and ceiling changes based on that.
Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser wrote a ‘What to Expect’ about Hoskins when it was announced he would be promoted to the Phillies. Obviously, you cannot expect a player to do what Hoskins is doing right now. This was Glaser’s attempt at predicting 11 home runs in 18 games:
Hoskins has the combination of power, bat speed, and strike-zone discipline to make an instant impact in the majors offensively. He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order stalwart and could reach that status quickly on a talent-deprived Phillies squad.
His lack of experience in left field could lead to some misadventures, but he has surprised people before.
Again, it is literally impossible to predict what Rhys Hoskins is doing. Glaser got about as close as possible when he mentioned that Hoskins could reach the status of ‘middle-of-the-order stalwart’ quickly.