With callup looming, Hoskins homers again

Phils No. 6 prospect belts 29th blast, ties '17 high with five RBIs

Rhys Hoskins has posted an .824 slugging percentage through his first nine games in August. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | August 10, 2017 12:57 AM

Rhys Hoskins belted his 29th homer of the season Wednesday night. His next one might come in "The Show."

Amid speculation that his first Major League callup may be imminent, the Phillies' No. 6 prospect Hoskins went 3-for-5 with a homer, double and five RBIs while playing his third straight game in left field as Triple-A Lehigh Valley rolled past Norfolk, 11-5, at Coca-Cola Park.

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A year after challenging for the Minor League home run crown with 38 for Double-A Reading, Hoskins flashed his notable power against the Tides. After No. 3 and 4 Phillies prospects Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford staked their team to a 2-1 lead with back-to-back homers leading off the third, Hoskins got involved in the fourth. The Sacramento State product lined a double to left field to plate two, opening the scoring in a four-run inning.

"It's always nice to hit with guys on base," Hoskins said after his third five-RBI game of the year. "[Norfolk starter Alec Asher] was a familiar face, so I was familiar with what he's got. He had a good plan the first couple of at-bats and I came up with the bases loaded my third at-bat. He left a pitch over the middle of the plate and I put a good swing on it."

Video: Lehigh Valley's Hoskins hammers three-run shot

Following a sixth-inning single to left, Hoskins clubbed a three-run homer to left-center with Kingery and Crawford aboard in the seventh. In nine games this month, Hoskins has a .324/.400/.824 slash line, already matching the five homers he hit in 26 games in July.

"He's had a special year, for sure," Lehigh Valley hitting coach Sal Rende said. "He just stays with what he's trying to do. He doesn't change and he doesn't come off of what he's trying to do at the plate, even if it doesn't work for a night or two nights. He knows it's going to work and he stays with his plan.

"We really haven't had to do a lot of fine-tuning at all. He's been a pretty polished player from the very first game here."

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That polish has caught the attention of decision-makers in Philadelphia.

"I must say that I'm anxious to see him at this level, see how he competes," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told MLB.com on Wednesday. "I liked his approach in Spring Training. If his at-bats this spring are any indication of what he can do here, he looks like he can handle it here. Matt [general manager Matt Klentak] will make that decision. I'll defer to the people that see him more often than I do."

The key to Hoskins' eventual promotion may not be at the plate but in the field. The natural first baseman hadn't played a professional inning in the outfield until Monday when he got his first start in left. The Phils are suddenly thin at the position after trading Howie Kendrick to the Nationals and losing Aaron Altherr to injury. Three games into a spot he last played in the Cape Cod League, Hoskins is confident.

"It's felt fine," he said. "I'm getting more comfortable, obviously, with the more live reps that I've gotten, and I think the more reps I get, the better I'll feel out there. I think I'll catch the balls I'm supposed to catch and, hopefully, I'll be able to throw some guys out if I get the opportunity, but I've felt fine. It'll be work-in-progress, but we'll see how it goes."

Rende echoed Hoskins' assessment.

"He does his work defensively during the day and does his work offensively, and he's able to separate it when it's time to do one or the other," the hitting coach said. "He hasn't had any hard plays in left field, but he certainly looks comfortable out there, that's for sure."

Despite the promotion rumors, Hoskins is trying to stay focused on his work in Lehigh Valley.

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"I'm trying to do as much as I can to lose myself in the routine that I have once I get to the field," he said. "It makes it easier for me to focus on the simple tasks that I'm doing right now and then kind of move on to the next. That's really what it is, day in and day out. I show up to the field every day and hope that I can get better as a player and we can win a ballgame.

"Obviously, that's ultimately where I want to end up. Whenever that happens, hopefully soon I'll get a chance, but it's nice to know I'll be walking into a clubhouse that wants me there. I'll be ready to contribute to a win that night, winning as a team however I can."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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