Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins finds his swing

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 14: Rhys Hoskins
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 14: Rhys Hoskins /

The Philadelphia Phillies’ front office promoted Lehigh Valley slugger Rhys Hoskins to the big league club in the hopes of injecting some power into the starting lineup. On Monday night, Hoskins delivered.

In the top of the fourth inning, Philadelphia Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins stepped into the batter’s box for his second plate appearance in the game. He stood in and faced Padres southpaw Travis Wood, who had retired him in the second inning on a line out to first base.

Less than a week ago, Hoskins arrived from Lehigh Valley with a big bat, and bigger expectations. In 115 games with the Iron Pigs, Hoskins slugged 29 home runs and drove in 91 RBI. His .581 slugging percentage and .966 OPS were numbers that no one occupying the middle of the Phillies batting order could claim.

Yet, the start to the rookie slugger’s career could charitably be described as inauspicious. In the four-game weekend series against the Mets, Hoskins collected one hit in 13 at-bats. At times, Hoskins looked overmatched.

Not so on Monday night. Hoskins patiently ran a deep count against Wood. On a 3-2 pitch, Hoskins ripped a line drive deep into the San Diego night. If not for the intervention of the electronic scoreboard in left field that doubles as the facade of the upper deck, the baseball likely would have landed somewhere in the Gaslamp Quarter.

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It was a textbook display of hitting. Hoskins immediately identified the pitch, got his front foot down, and delivered a short, quick swing. During a season in which fans have been subjected to the wild, undisciplined swings of Maikel Franco, Hoskins’ approach was a welcome change.

In the seventh inning, Hoskins struck again. With a swing that looked like a carbon copy of his first home run, the rookie went yard again. This time, Hoskins deposited the baseball deep into the left centerfield seats.

In the course of returning to the form that enabled him to dominate at the Triple A level, Hoskins has shed the look and label of overmatched rookie. Nevertheless, the growing pains will continue. The pressure to deliver results, combined with the rigors of playing every day, are enough to drive even the best hitters into slumps.

Affording a young player the time and space to work through these professional growing pains is one of the benefits of the Phillies’ extended trip to the basement of the National League Standings.

Next: The Zach Eflin enigma

In short, the Philadelphia Phillies are going nowhere. Neither should Hoskins.