Philadelphia Phillies: Time to Call Up First Baseman Rhys Hoskins
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph has not started off his 2017 season on a favorable note. He’s hitting well below the Mendoza Line and has not put on a power display like he did last year. To breathe some life into the position, it’s time the Phillies call up Rhys Hoskins.
After a powerful season in Double-A last year, Hoskins became a consideration for the future first base job with the Philadelphia Phillies. Hoskins smashed 38 home runs in 2016 and drove in a jaw-dropping 116 runs. The 24-year-old was very productive a year prior as well with 17 home runs and 90 RBI in Single-A.
It’s certainly too soon to bench Joseph for good. The kid hit well enough last year in the majors to deserve a longer leash. Still, it’s not a bad idea to see what other options the Phillies have at any position.
This is especially true at first base as the Phillies have messed up here several times in the past. One example is how the Phillies flubbed Ryan Howard‘s call up a decade ago when first base was occupied by future Hall of Famer Jim Thome. It’s hard to blame them, but they certainly could have done things better. Howard was very ready and lost a year or so at the beginning of his career due to mismanagement of the roster.
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To a lesser extent, a similar situation occurred with Howard blocking the path for Darin Ruf. While Ruf never became anywhere near the star Howard did, there were some striking similarities. By the time Ruf did get to the big leagues permanently he was nothing more than an occasional power threat off the bench limited to facing lefties. This is many Phillies fans fear with a guy like Hoskins.
Hoskins has already started off this season strong. He has hit four home runs through his first 50 plate appearances for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Even better, he is also hitting over .300 with a superb OBP well over .400. Triple-A pitchers are scared of this slugger. Soon, MLB pitchers should be too.
The Phillies made their first big call up earlier this week when pitcher Ben Lively replaced Howie Kendrick on the roster. As soon as they no longer need the additional pitching, it might be time for Hoskins to join the club.
The biggest issue here is the Phillies would then carry two players who are exclusively first basemen. There’s no chance at platooning them either, as they are big right-handed hitters probably incapable of doing much good in the corner outfield. This is a big load to carry in the National League without the benefit of the DH.
One possibility is that Joseph eventually sees his time with Philadelphia run out and these two swap roster spots completely. For as promising as his 21 home runs in 347 plate appearances was last year, Joseph still hit only .257/.308/.505.
The 2017 Phillies soon will have a lot of prospects fighting their way onto the big league roster. A man very much deserving of a promotion right now is Hoskins. If he continues to hit this well, the Phillies will have to see what he has to offer.