Minors' home run king Cozens belts 40th

Philly's No. 7 prospect lofts milestone shot in final Reading at-bat

Dylan Cozens hit 38 homers over 361 games in his first four Minor League seasons. (Rudy C. Jones/MiLB.com)

By Alex Kraft / MiLB.com | September 5, 2016 10:14 PM

It took until the final inning of the regular season's final game, but Dylan Cozens got No. 40.

Philadelphia's No. 7 prospect became the first Eastern League player since 1981 to reach the 40-homer plateau with a solo blast in the top of the 10th inning Monday as Double-A Reading topped Trenton, 11-6, at Arm & Hammer Park. In addition to leading the Minor Leagues in homers, he also finished first in RBIs with 125.

Despite breaking Darin Ruf's team record for long balls in a season with his 39th blast a day earlier, Cozens had been slumping as the Fightin Phils came down the home stretch. Since hitting his 37th long ball on Aug. 17, the 22-year-old outfielder went 13-for-71 (.183) with two homers and 33 strikeouts over his next 18 games.

The situation didn't change too much early in Monday's game. The Arizona native lofted an RBI single to center field in his first at-bat, but struck out in his next three at-bats. With the game tied in the top of the ninth, 6-6, he was left in the on-deck circle after fourth-ranked Phillies prospect Jorge Alfaro struck out. 

But Reading right-hander Victor Arano (1-1) worked out of a bases-loaded no-out jam in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras.

In the 10th, the Chaparral High School product battled Thunder reliever Cale Coshow (3-8) for six pitches before belting the seventh on over the right-field fence. Shortly afterward, teammate Rhys Hoskins -- who fought for the Minor League lead with Cozens all season before finishing second with 38 homers -- drilled one out to left-center to help key a five-run inning.

No. 40 capped off a breakout season for Cozens, who hit eight homers across three levels last season and had never hit more than 16 in the Minor Leagues. Over the course of the year, the 2012 second-round pick delivered at least seven home runs in every month aside from April (five) and September (two), and never went more than 13 games without hitting one. He homered in consecutive games on six occasions, and twice went yard in three straight contests.

Despite all the accolades, Cozens kept his attention on what lies ahead for the Fightin Phils.

"I'm just trying to focus on winning the championship and getting better every day," he told MiLB.com after hitting his 38th homer against Portland on Aug. 31. "I'm trying not to worry about [the records] too much."

In that regard, the 2016 Joe Bauman Home Run Award winner likes Reading's chances.

"This is a great team with a bunch of really good players," Cozens told MiLB.com. "I knew we were going to be good from the beginning of the season when I found out who they were putting here. I'm not that surprised that we've been as good as we are."

No. 8 Philadelphia prospect Roman Quinn finished 3-for-6 with two doubles, two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. Harold Martinez added three hits and four RBIs while falling a triple shy of the cycle for the Fightin Phils.

Eighth-ranked Yankees prospect Miguel Andujar went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double for Trenton. Teammate Dante Bichette also went yard.

Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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