The first thing you’ll notice about Dylan Cozens, if you haven’t seen him before, is how huge he is.
Design a quintessential baseball player, throw him in right field and you’ve got the Phillies’ power-hitting prospect Cozens.
The 22-year-old stands at a broad-shouldered 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds. He took the Reading Fightins’ by storm last summer, smashing 40 home runs and 125 RBI to lead the Eastern League. For Cozens, who is likely to start the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the long ball is nothing new.
“I have always been big,” the slugger told reporters at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday as a selection of top prospects visited the city for the first time ahead of spring training.”I guess I have always been strong enough [to hit home runs].”
Cozens and teammate Rhys Hoskins (38 home runs in 2016) gave Reading fans a season to remember, but manylong-ball hitters have succeeded in Reading only to see their power fade in a larger ballpark (like Darin Ruf). Cozens isn’t worried.
“I got to see how cool it is to have a good year like that and I kind of realize now that if I hit 40 home runs every year things will be pretty good,” the prospect said with a smile. “It’s good motivation and I feel like if I am doing that we are going to win games.
“People talk about the Reading factor, but I think if I am coming here it’s the same thing. It’s not something I am worried about. It’s always nice to be in a hitter’s park. It looks somewhat like Reading [at Citizens Bank Park], hopefully I can do the same thing.”
The Phillies certainly hope so too. The closest any MLB player got to Cozens homer total was Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco — each of whom hit 25 dingers.
Cozens was a second round draft choice in 2012 but developed slowly. His 40 homers in 2016 are two more than he hit in four seasons prior combined. This fact could motivate the Phils front office’s decision-makers to start him in Triple-A to make sure his revelatory 2016 season was no fluke. But that’s OK with Cozens. He knows it’s a process.
“Patience is tough,” he said.”It’s fun playing baseball, being out there and playing on the field, its hard not to have fun. If you’re not having fun you are not in the right sport.”
Cozens takes a page from Joel Embiid’s book and “trusts the process.”
“I feel like the Phillies do great job of really knowing when we are ready,” he said.”I fully trust the process and how they are treating me. They do a good job looking out for the players.”