Hoskins slugs two big jacks for IronPigs

Phils' No. 6 prospect ties club's single-season mark with 25th, 26th

Rhys Hoskins is hitting .281 with 82 RBIs in the International League this season. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | August 3, 2017 12:45 AM

Rhys Hoskins got to experience what he considers the best feeling as a hitter, not once, but twice Wednesday.

"It's always exciting," he said. "I'm not sure that's ever going to change."

Philadelphia's No. 6 prospect slugged a pair of homers for three RBIs in Triple-A Lehigh Valley's 4-3 win at Rochester.

 Video: IronPigs' Hoskins homers again

"It's always good when you hit a couple balls hard and even better when they end up going over the fence," Hoskins said. "I would've liked to finish the game with my last two at-bats a little better than I did -- put an exclamation point on the night -- but it's baseball and we ended up getting a big win here in Rochester."

Facing a familiar foe in Red Wings starter Tim Melville, MLB.com's No. 72 overall prospect stepped up in the first inning with a plan. With Phillies No. 3 prospect Scott Kingery on third base and one out, Hoskins blasted off to left for his International League-leading 25th homer.

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"Came up with a runner on third with less than two outs, so the approach and the plan get as simple as it gets -- just see a ball up," the 24-year-old said. "He's got some velocity behind his fastball, so we knew and had talked about that he likes his fastball and he uses it quite a bit, so I just tried to get something up in the zone and luckily I was able to put a good swing on it."

Two innings later, Hoskins was back up against the right-hander, this time working a 2-2 count. The 2014 fifth-round pick noticed that Melville hadn't had success with his curveball and slider, so again, he was sitting fastball. Hoskins then ripped the leadoff shot to center for his career-best fourth multi-homer game of the year.

"I didn't think I got the second one enough to go to center field, so I was surprised at the second one," the Sacramento State product said. "He throws hard, so the pitcher supplies the power there. I was just glad it gave us another run early in the game."

Video: Hoskins goes yard for IronPigs

Even though Hoskins struck out in the fifth and grounded out in the seventh, his night was still historic. The first baseman tied Lehigh Valley's single-season record for long balls set by Andy Tracy in 2009.

"It's a lot of work with our hitting coach, [Sal Rende], and talking especially about keeping some sort of plan or approach at the plate and trying to stick with that, even if things don't go your way in the first or second at-bat of the night," he said. "So I think that has helped me a lot this year. And obviously it's an honor to represent a franchise like the IronPigs in that kind of way. It's definitely something that I'll remember."

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Hoskins had worked his way through a relatively tough July. The California native hit .211 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 26 games. Getting just two hits over his last five games, Hoskins hopes the two-homer outing kick-starts a turnaround month.

"I think there was just a little bit of hitting some bad luck and that's going to happen over 500, 600 at-bats," he said. "I got away a little from my approach that I try to keep at the plate and was in between a lot of pitches, so I was missing pitches that I normally hit. [Wednesday] I was as stubborn as I could be to hitting the fastball and didn't miss them when I got them."

After Rochester tied the game following a sacrifice fly by Leonardo Reginatto in the fourth and a two-run shot by Twins No. 22 prospect Daniel Palka in the fifth, Lehigh Valley rallied in the sixth. Brock Stassi knocked an RBI single to right to give the IronPigs the lead for good.

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Lehigh Valley starter Brandon Leibrandt allowed a run on four hits and two walks over four innings before Alexis Rivero (1-1) yielded two runs on three hits in the fifth en route to the win. Cesar Ramos followed with 2 1/3 scoreless innings and Phillies No. 17 prospect Ricardo Pinto worked around two hits for the final five outs and his first save since 2012.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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