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Phillies Take on the Mets in a Rare Five Game Series

Yesterday, the Phillies closed out the series against the Rockies in a huge way. Down by one run the ninth inning, the Phillies battled by back with a huge two out RBI single by Chase Utley to tie the game. Then, Ryan Howard hit a three-run walk off bomb to end the game victorious. With that win, the Phillies took two out of three in the series for the first series win at home since they hosted the Washington Nationals at the beginning of May.

Tonight, the Phillies (23-27) open a rare five-game set against the New York Mets (24-28). The series was originally just four games, but the fifth game on June 2nd is a make up game from April 30th, which was rained out. To kick things off, the Phillies will send rookie right-hander, David Buchanan (1-0 3.60 ERA) to the hill for his second start of his major league career. In his first major league start, Buchanan allowed five hits, two runs, and struck out two in five innings against the L.A. Dodgers. Only throwing 66 pitches in his first start, it is expected that Buchanan will have a lot longer leash tonight.

The New York Mets will send a young starter of their own to the hill, Zach Wheeler (1-5 4.63 ERA) in his second year in the major leagues. Wheeler will be looking to build off his last start against the Diamondbacks, when he went 6 2/3 innings giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits. He also struck out seven. In his two prior starts against the Yankees and Nationals, he gave up ten earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. The Mets took the series against the Phillies earlier in the year, so the Phils have an opportunity here to take the edge back from New York during the next five games.

Game Notes:

  • Phillies head physician, Michael Ciccotti, examined Cuban right-hander, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez after he complained of a dead arm. The MRI revealed no structural damage and he would continue his throwing program today.
  • Since reaching the big leagues, Darin Ruf has the 10th best home OPS (.962) at home.
  • Entering tonight’s game, Ryan Howard is three RBI’s away from 1,000 RBIs for his career.
  • Today is the four-year anniversary of Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Miami Marlins. In honor of this, the Phillies will be giving away Roy Halladay bobbleheads on August 8th. 

 Phillies Lineup:

  1. Ben Revere CF
  2. Jimmy Rollins SS
  3. Chase Utley 2B
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Marlon Byrd RF
  6. Domonic Brown LF
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Cesar Hernandez 3B
  9. David Buchanan P

Mets Lineup:

  1. Juan Lagares CF
  2. Daniel Murphy 2B
  3. David Wright 3B
  4. Cutris Granderson RF
  5. Lucas Duda 1B
  6. Chris Young LF
  7. Wilmer Flores SS
  8. Travis d’Arnaud C
  9. Zach Wheeler P

First Pitch: 7:05 PM ET

Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA

Weather: 53oF with clearing skies and wind out the east at 5 mph

TV: CSN, MLBN

Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP

 

Andrew Shipotofsky is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Ashipotofsky


Hinkie's Reaction To Sixer's Draft Positioning

With the lottery now in the rear view, and the Sixers receiving picks number 3 and number 10 overall; it’s now time for Sam Hinkie to work his magic and revamp this roster moreover.

Of course many Sixers fans are upset about the positioning at 3, because Cleveland keeps getting rewarded good karma for losing LeBron a few years back by receiving the No. 1 overall pick the past three out of four years, despite having terrible odds at 1.7 percent. 

So what direction will Hinkie steer this team towards come draft day?

Obviously, the mastermind behind the overhaul won’t show his hand to the public as he stated.

“Now we are back to my stone face because this is the time of the year where there is a lot of information to be gained and a lot to be lost the more you say,” Hinkie said. “We are likely to be active all around the draft. That is not unusual for us. But you have to be pretty careful that people don’t know what it is you are going to do.”

With the Sixers receiving a top 3 pick, they’re likely to draft either Wiggins, Embiid, or Parker. Although, a lot of rumors also place Australian guard Dante Exum in the mix as well.

Hinkie does feel like Philadelphia will be a great landing spot for the rookies who will be drafted by the Sixers come June 26th.

“They want to play in a big market and they recognize what a platform it is in Philadelphia. They want to get better and they realize that Philadelphia, with our coaching staff and with our roster, you can come and play and get better, said Hinkie.”

Who knows what Hinkie has stored up his sleeve? Just understand that the guy is ready and willing to make any move that will improve the roster for next season.

After the plethora of transactions that occurred at last year’s draft, don’t be surprised if more of the same happens in this year’s draft.

After all Hinkie did say “we’re likely to be active all around the draft that’s not unusual for us.”


The Good Bullpen vs. The Bad Bullpen

The Phillies had a nice walk-off win yesterday. Anytime that Ryan Howard hits a walk-off homer, it's a good night for Phillies fans. He can be our difference maker.

In that win though, we also saw another drama play out, and that is in the bullpen. The Phillies are a 23-27 team, but while they've now put two blown saves on opponents this season, they've also lost seven games in their bullpen. MOST of those came in April, and up through maybe Mother's Day. They've actually been decent since. Last night showed you both the problems they have, and why they've been decent.

Two guys who were considered huge keys to this team winning, Antonio Bastardo and Jake Diekman, both continued to do the wrong things last night. For Bastardo, it was just plain putrid pitching, again. He came out in the seventh and walked three guys in a row. Now I get that Antonio will never be a model in control and command, but his potentially electric stuff is absolutely useless if he can't face three hitters in a row and now walk any of them. At this point, I don't know how he can get any kind of high leverage spots. Of course, the very next inning, the baffling Jake Diekman struck again. Diekman has a great arm, and bright future, as is born out in his K/9 stats. The man can load up on strikeouts. He also surrendered another homer last night. Part of Diekman's problem is that Sandberg has not made him into a LOOGY yet, and he's not getting righties out (to be fair, in the future we don't want him to be a LOOGY, so maybe he's gotta learn). Even so though, Diekman's inconsistent performance is baffling.

The bullpen has been better though, basically because of two guys- Papelbon and Adams. Papelbon's performance this season has been written about a lot, but Adams has been huge. He's on quite the run of scoreless innings, and last night he went out and got out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam. He's becoming a very reliable late-inning arm for the Phillies.

The Phillies bullpen situation has improved, basically thanks to these two. There are still major issues though that have to be resolved in order for this team to do well. Depth may still do them in.

Ryan Howard Walks Off in Series Victory

DSC_0129Photo: Philliedelphia/Andrew Gillen

The Phillies have seemingly caught on to a bit of a pattern in their last few series toward the end of May. In their three-game set in Miami against the Marlins, they split the first two contests, only to drop the third game. And just days ago, the Phillies came into Sunday's ball game against Josh Beckett and the Dodgers with a chance to take two-of-three, but were instead met with a no-hit performance. Tonight, Philadelphia looked to make the third time a charm, because after taking the Memorial Day game 9-0 over Colorado and dropping last night's matchup, they had their third straight opportunity to claim the victory in a three game series. It would be the National League's Masahiro Tanaka, Roberto Hernandez, facing off against the Rockies' Jordan Lyles.

The Game: Roberto Hernandez could have easily had quick outings in the first two innings, recording outs on the first two batters he faced in each of those frames. However, he allowed a double and a walk in the first with those two away, eventually getting the third out without a run crossing. The second inning got even dicier, as an error by Cesar Hernandez, a single, and another walk loaded the bases, all with two away. Again, though, Roberto escaped by getting a ground ball out. The flirting with danger caught up with him in the next frame.

Justin Morneau led off the third inning, and ripped the very first pitch just inside the right field foul pole to open up the scoring. Corey Dickerson would soon walk with one away, Hernandez' third base on balls of the game. Catcher Wilin Rosario then had his opportunity against Roberto, and sent a ball toward the angled wall behind Ben Revere in center field. Dickerson's speed allowed him to score all the way from first, and Rosario collected an RBI double. The Rockies now jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Philadelphia would cut the lead in half during the bottom of the third, led off by Chase Utley's league-leading 22nd double of the season. With Ryan Howard batting, the Rockies had a slight shift on, but not as dramatic as most teams do. It was Howard's opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and that's exactly what he did. A line drive just to the right of second base went through for an RBI single, and the score now stood at just 2-1. 

The game would eventually be tied at two, when Marlon Byrd came through in the fifth. Ben Revere had singled to lead things off, and stole second when Jimmy Rollins struck out. Chase Utley suffered the same fate, and Howard was set to come up with another RBI chance. Colorado decided it would be best to walk him though, and Piece was sent up to first base. That paved the way for Byrd to succeed, and he notched an RBI single to bring in Revere. 2-2 ballgame.

The bullpen, namely Antonio Bastardo, nearly imploded the game in the seventh. Bastardo had already allowed a walk in the previous inning, and began the seventh by walking all three batters he faced. That forced Ryne Sandberg to make the move to Mike Adams in the no-out, bases loaded situation. Clutch is an understatement for Adams' performance, as he was able to get pinch hitter Carlos Gonzalez to roll into the 1-2-3 double play. Now with two runners in scoring position and two away, Troy Tulowitzki got the chance to pinch hit as well. He would be set down on strikes, and the threat was extinguished. 

Unfortunately, all of Adams work in that seventh would immediately be lost in the eighth. Jake Diekman was summoned into the game, and despite forcing Charlie Blackmon to ground out, he could not hang on to the tie score. D.J. LaMahieu collected his first home run since August of last season, and Colorado now took a 3-2 lead in the rubber match of the series.

LaTroy Hawkins came in to close things out in the ninth for the Rockies. Cesar Hernandez was the first man to face Hawkins, but he flew out to lead things off. Tony Gwynn Jr. rolled a ball over to Josh Rutledge, whose throw was too high, allowing Gwynn to reach on an error. Ben Revere followed with a single into right field to put two runners on for Jimmy Rollins. Rollins was given a second life during his at bat when Troy Tulowitzki dropped a ball in foul territory. However, J-Roll lined out to left field for out number two. Surprisingly, Rockies manager Walt Weiss decided to replace Hawkins with Boone Logan on the mound to face Chase Utley. After reaching 3-0 in the count, Utley lined a ball deep into right field that just turned foul. It wouldn't matter, though, as the next pitch was sent into right field for a game-tying RBI single. 

With the game now sitting at 3-3, Ryan Howard was up, but in the dreaded lefty-on-lefty situation. After reaching a 2-2 count, Howard ended up winning the improbable battle, sending the sixth pitch over the 387 sign in left-center field for the walk-off, three-run jack. The Phillies take the three game series from Colorado with a 6-3 victory. 

Impact: After two failed attempts, the Phillies were finally able to take advantage of a rubber match in a three game set. They had lost the previous two series against Miami and Los Angeles, but took advantage of a 'rocky' bullpen to win the home series.  Now, a five game set against the New York Mets could be vital in keeping a beating pulse in the 2014 campaign. Both teams will see each of their rival's five starting pitchers in the series, and one could walk away putting the other deep into the bottom of the division.

Up Next: That five game stretch against the Mets starts tomorrow night at 7:05, as David Buchanan will make his second major league start for the Phillies. New York will send young right-hander Zack Wheeler to the bump in Game One. 

Andrew Gillen, Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com


Draft: The Old School vs. The Hinkie School- Part 2

Sam hinkie

(Part two of a four-part series)

The Old School

When I think of the old school, well, I think of  Will Farrell saying “ C’mon, we’re going streaking, up through the Quad, by the gymnasium” but for the purpose of this article, we’ll look at the Sixers drafting the best player available at each point in the draft, without making any moves. With the #3 pick, Jabari Parker. I know, I know, I just spent two paragraphs discussing how they are going to get Wiggins but I’m sorry, I don’t believe all of the rumors. I do think Embiid will be gone but I think Wiggins’ upside is too much to pass on if I’m Milwaukee. Still, Parker is a pretty great consolation prize. So with Parker in house, Brett Brown’s lineup will look like this: MCW, Wroten/Anderson, Parker, Young, Noel. If all these players are still on the team, and I doubt Young will be, there’s still a glaring need for a SG and a true PF. That leads us to pick #10; Sixers select James Young (SG/SF, Kentucky). I’d like Stauskus but I think he’s gone at this point, shooters are at a premium in today’s game and Stauskus is a good one. I also know that there has been a lot of talk about Dougie "McBuckets" McDermott but I also see him gone prior to the #10 pick. In Young, they still get a young player (18y/o) who has a sweet shooting touch. He’s also an above average, willing defender. Young can come off the bench to start his career and bring some scoring punch and eventually crack the lineup late in the year or certainly in 2015-2016. Plus, with Thad most likely gone, we’ll need to replenish our “Young” pool.

On to the Second round where picks are pretty much a crapshoot but with NBA average (26%) of second rounders playing more than 2years in the NBA, and contributing, the Sixers should get at least one player who will help long term. Pick #32, Cleanthony Early (SF, Wichita State). Early did show up for the NBA combine and according to most scouts, disappointed. I still rather look at the body of collegiate work and Early was one of the better players in the nation and played on a winning team. Early is a little older (23y/o) then you may want out of a “project” but he’s extremely athletic (40” vertical) and can fly up and down the court. He would look very nice as a rotational player in BB’s up tempo offense. Pick #39, Spencer Dinwiddie (PG/SG, Colorado). Dinwiddie is exactly the player the Sixers will be targeting in the 2nd round; he’s got amazing potential but coming off an ACL injury. We all know how willing they are to be patient with a player during a knee rehab, ahem, Noel. Dinwiddie is a 6’6” guard, he played mostly pg in college but has a nice scoring touch and the ability to score in bunches. He can back up MCW or they can be paired together giving them tremendous length in the backcourt. If he’s there at #39, it’s a no-brainer.  Pick #47, Melvin Ejim (SF/PF, Iowa State). I’ll be honest, I think this is around where Ejim will go but I’m hoping he lasts to this pick. I love Ejim’s game, his biggest issue will be what position will he defend; it’s most likely going to be the 4. At 6’6”, he is definitely a “tweener” much like Parker in that they’re probably too slow to guard the 3 and will probably be a liability down in the post. But Ejim is relentless on the offensive end, averaging almost 18pts/gm last year. He had a few games where he lit up the score sheet and that ability to score in waves is a tremendous asset out of a rotational player. In this draft scenario, the Sixers can fill up the basket with Parker and Ejim on the court at the same time but they’re not going to stop many people either, you’ll definitely want to take the over! Pick #52, Nikola Jokic (PF/C, Serbia). This is the point in the draft where you’re just hoping the player you take can be a 10-12 guy on your bench. Jokic is 6’11”, 255lbs with some shooting touch. He’s only 19 and will most likely want to play another year or two in the Adriatic League but that’s all fine and good for the Sixers. Maybe he can develop enough of an offensive game in the post that he can come over stateside and help right as the team is taking that next step. Pick #54, Markel Brown (SG, Oklahoma State). Brown is a streaky shooter who definitely needs to become more consistent. The upside here is his atheletism, he had the highest vertical of anyone at the combine, 43.5” which insane especially for someone who is 6’3”. With his athleticism and an improved jumper, he could eventually be a 10+pt a night guy off the bench.

Recap:

Rd 1, pick 3: Jabari Parker (SF, Duke)

Rd1, pick 10: James Young (SG/SF, Kentucky)

Rd2, pick 32: Cleanthony Early (SF, Wichita State)

Rd2, pick 39: Spencer Dinwiddie (PG/SG, Colorado)

Rd2, pick 47: Melvin Ejim (SF/PF, Iowa State)

Rd2, pick 52: Nikola Jokic (PF/C, Serbia)

Rd2, pick 54: Markel Brown (SG, Oklahoma State)

 Stayed Tuned, Part 3, The Hinkie School will be coming out in a day or two. Let me know if you think they should go Old School and stand pat and take the best players available. 

Part 1 can be found here:

http://www.sixerdelphia.com/2014/05/draft-the-old-school-vs-the-hinkie-school.html


Series Finale Will Be Jimmy Rollins' 2,000th Career Game

It is a milestone night at Citizens Bank Park tonight as Jimmy Rollins will be playing in his 2,000th Major League game. Over his 15-year career, the three-time all star has helped the Phillies to five division titles, two World Series appearances and a World Series Championship in 2008. He was named league MVP in 2007 and is also a four-time gold glover at shortstop. J-Roll also won a silver slugger award in '07, joining a select group of players to have hit 30 homers and stolen 30 bases in a season. Rollins holds the Phillies record for most triples in a season with 20 in 2007. In the 2011 playoffs, he broke his fair share of Phils postseason records, including hits (9), doubles (4), and multi-hit games (4). Tonight is a special one as we are seeing a cornerstone of this Phillies organization from the past 15 years, go through another milestone in his career. Let's move on to tonight's game preview.

The Phillies (22-27) and Rockies (28-24) conclude their series tonight at 7:05pm (CSN) after splitting the first two games. The Phillies won the first game by a score of 9-0 while the Rockies got to Cole Hamels late in the game yesterday to post a 6-2 victory. Yesterday's loss was another frustrating one for Philadelphia. They failed to get Cole Hamels much of any run support, so one mistake made by him late in the game proved to be the difference maker. The Phils have given Cole 2.5 runs per start this season. Hopefully tonight, it will be a different story with Roberto Hernandez on the hill.

Last time out against the Dodgers, Roberto Hernandez (2-2, 3.83) held their lineup to just two runs, but the Phillies offense was shutout by LA's Clayton Kershaw. The Phillies are 2-1 in Hernandez's last three starts, where he has given up three runs over 18.2 innings for a 1.45 ERA. While he saw some time in the bullpen in between starts, Hernandez has been a solid back of the rotation guy all season. He will face a Rockies lineup that has a .333 career average against him, with Justin Morneau having the most success. The Rockies first baseman has a career .303 average against the Phils righty with two doubles, three homers, 11 RBI's and six walks in 33 at-bats. Michael Cuddyer has 46 at-bats against Roberto, but only has a .239 average against with nine strikeouts. Hernandez's last start against the Rockies was one to forget. He gave up six runs on nine hits in just four innings, but was bailed out by the offense in a 10-9 Phillies victory on April 20th. 

The Rockies will oppose with Jordan Lyles (5-1, 3.45), who has posted three quality starts this month in four outings. Excluding the game in which he gave up six runs against the Padres, Lyles has limited the Rangers, Reds and Braves to just two runs a piece. The Rockies have gone 2-2 in his starts during the month of May. The Phillies have a career .250 average against Lyles, with no player having more than eight at-bats against him. Jimmy Rollins is 5-for-8 with two doubles and a walk against Lyles while Ryan Howard has a double and two RBI's in six at-bats. He last faced the Phillies on September 16th, 2012. Lyles gave up four runs over five innings in the Rockies 7-6 win.

Game Notes:

  • Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are out of the lineup tonight.
  •  Justin Morneau is hitting .357 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 14 at-bats against Hernandez over the last five years. 
  • Colorado fell to 4-20 in its last 24 at Citizens Bank Park after Monday night's loss. A 6-2 win yesterday has put the Rockies in position to win their first series in Philadelphia since taking three of four  during a series on Aug. 9-12, 2004.
  • Ryan Howard is hitting .462 in his last seven games against the Rockies. He is back in tonight's lineup after sitting yesterday in favor of Darin Ruf.
  • Since the start of the 2008 season, the Phillies are 32-11 (.744) in 43 regular season games against the Rockies, which is their best winning percentage against any team over that span.
  • Tonight is Jimmy Rollins' 2,000th major league game. He is 15 hits away from being the Phillies all-time hits leader.

Phillies Lineup:

Ben Revere CF

Jimmy Rollins SS

Chase Utley 2B

Ryan Howard 1B

Marlon Byrd RF

Domonic Brown LF

Carlos Ruiz C

Cesar Hernandez 3B

Roberto Hernandez P

Rockies Lineup:

Charlie Blackmon CF

D.J. LeMahieu 2B

Justin Morneau 1B

Michael Cuddyer RF

Corey Dickerson KF

Wilin Rosario C

Josh Rutledge SS

Charlie Culberson 3B

Jordan Lyles P

Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Gametime Forecast: 65° F - Cloudy - 0% PoP
Game Time: 7:05 PM Eastern

Jimmy Rollins in February, 2001

Brandon Apter is the Publishing Editor for Phillidelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock


Is Maikel Franco Ready for the Bigs? Amaro Says No; Hails Defense At Third Base

In a recent interview with Ruben Amaro, he discussed the possibility of bringing up Phillies top prospect, Maikel Franco, with Cody Asche currently on the disabled list with hamstring tendinitis. Currently, Cesar Hernandez has been filling in for Asche and defensively has done quite well considering he never played the position before spring training. Before hitting the DL, Asche was having an excellent month offensively after a slow start. In 17 games, Asche was hitting .317 with nine doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Like Asche in the majors, Maikel Franco had a very slow start in AAA Leigh Valley. In 26 games since late April, Franco has hit .301 with eight doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs. Franco was rated the No. 17 prospect in the game by Baseball America this past offseason after batting .320 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs last year between Single-A and Double-A.

In Ruben Amaro’s interview, he explained that he did not feel that Franco was a major leaguer at this point in time. Through his bat is heating up, Amaro still believes that Franco isn’t hitting the ball at a level that prompts a call up to the big leagues. Though Amaro doesn’t believe that Franco’s bat is ready, he does believe Franco is a better defender at the position.

To quote Sandberg on the situation, “I give Franco the edge on the defense just with the natural glove instincts that he has. He just has a knack for reading balls and drop-stepping and real quick with his feet, even for a guy with his size, and he showed that in the spring."

Even with Asche heating up before the getting hurt, the Phllies third baseman ranks 24th in baseball in OPS (.636), 25th in extra-base hits (12) and 27th in both batting (.207) and total bases (57). With Hernandez is only hitting .147 with one homer in 17 games, should the Phillies call up Franco? If so, what do you do with Asche? You could stick him in the outfield with Domonic Brown struggling or groom him in a similar matter as Chase Utley and move him to second. Or, do you mix Franco in with Ruf and Howard in a platoon at 1st base? Only time will tell. Right now, it looks like Franco will be with the Ironpigs moving forward.

 Andrew Shipotofsky is a Writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him of Twitter @Ashipotofsky


Phillies Second Baseman Chase Utley Holds Strong Lead In Early All-Star Vote

ChaseUtley

Chase Utley has had one of his finest seasons so far in the early going.   Batting .333 with four home runs and 25 RBI, Utley has been a top offensive force.  Additionally, Utley has an obscene 21 doubles in the early going.   Fans around baseball are noticing.  MLB.com released the current National League All-Star voting today, and Utley is at the top of his position.

At the second base position, Utley is in the lead with 509,390 votes.  Utley's next-closest second baseman is Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Gordon has 304,258 votes, over a 205,000 vote lead.  There is also a great deal of separation between Gordon and the third vote getter, Brandon Phillips.  Phillips has 187,067, over 113,000 fewer than Gordon.

The Phillies are not doing so well at other positions.   Shortstop Jimmy Rollins is putting together a fine season for the Phillies, but failed to register in the top five of voting.     No other Phillies starter cracked the top five of infielders and catchers; no Phillies outfielder was in the top 15 of voting among outfielders.

The Phillies could have another All-Star beyond an Utley election, if closer Jonathan Papelbon keeps up his dominant season at closer.  Papelbon has 13 saves in 14 opportunities and a 1.96 ERA.

If Utley maintains his lead and is elected, this would be his sixth All-Star appearance. 


Prospect Profile: Slugging Cozens Trying to Find Footing with Blueclaws

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Photo: MiLB.com

When the Phillies drafted Dylan Cozens in the second round of the 2012 draft, what they knew they were getting was a guy with a lot of raw power at the plate. Cozens worked out for the Phillies among other teams before being drafted, but he wow'd the Phillies brass when he slugged towering home runs during his workout. 

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro was intrigued by the power that Cozens brought to the table and was impressed by the overall package the youngster had going into the draft. (via Phillies.com)

"He was really interesting," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That was probably the guy I was most excited about. This is a kid that people knew about, but were kind of off of for whatever reason. I love the guy's power. Extraordinary power for a kid -- great body, runs well, seems to move pretty well, looks like a pretty decent athlete."

Standing tall at 6-6 and weighing in at around 235 pounds, this once Pac-12 defensive end recruit finds himself in the Phillies organization as one of the top power-hitting prospects. Cozens, after being drafted, spent the rest of 2012 with the GCL Phillies, where he hit .255 but had a .341 OBP and a .441 slugging percentage. With a guy of his build, you will likely see a handful of strikeouts and that was the case in his first season with the Phils. He struck out 44 times in 161 at-bats. He does have good speed though as he swiped eight bags in the GCL. Although he only hit .255, he did belt five homers, 11 doubles and two triples to go along with 24 RBI's and 21 walks, so he does show some patience at the plate even though he strikes out a lot.

In 2013, the outfield prospect spent his season in Williamsport with the Crosscutters, where he raised his average ten points to .265. His OBP and slugging also went up a bit, sitting at .343 and .469 respectively. Projected as a right fielder, Cozens has been known to be an adequate defender with a solid arm for a corner outfielder, but as he matures, first base might be more of a calling for him. During his time in Williamsport, Phillies scouts noticed that he had trouble picking up spin on breaking pitches and timing offspeed pitches. Hopefully this is something that improves over time for Cozens, but as we see with players like Ryan Howard, it could be something that stays with him throughout his career. There is no doubting that this kid's value is all in his bat. He belted nine homers, 19 doubles and had 35 RBI's in 2013. He also led the Crosscutters with 11 stolen bases on the year. 

This year, the 20-year old Phillies prospect is with Class 'A' Lakewood, where he has already been awarded for his performance at the plate. For the week ending on May 4th, Cozens notched his first South Atlantic Player of the Week honors after going 10-for-23 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and four runs scored. His efforts helped the BlueClaws go 5-2 on their week-long road trip. His fielding isn't necessarily up to par just yet as he has committed four errors in 82 chances. He also has four outfield assists to go along with his .951 fielding percentage. So far this season with Lakewood, Cozens hitting line is a little lower than what we saw at the other levels, .242/.284/.426. At this point, it seems like he is just growing accustomed to better pitching at a higher level. He has seven homers, ten doubles, two triples, 12 walks this season, but the more alarming number is his 52 strikeouts in 190 at-bats. 

While the Phillies hope to have found a power bat for their future, a lot of teams were hesitant to select Cozens in the draft because of his football background. Despite being a multi-sport athlete, the hitting coach at Chaparral, Randy Ford, said that his dedication to baseball was more than noticeable (via Phillies.com)

"He worked very, very hard," Ford said by phone. "Dylan won a state football title on a Saturday night, and on Monday night, he said, 'Coach, let's go work on hitting.' I tried to get him to take a few days off, and he wouldn't have it. That's his dedication."

Obviously, there is plenty of fine tuning to be done for the 2012 second round pick, but his power is very intriguing, despite his strikeout rate. Cozens will likely stay with Lakewood for the remainder of the season unless his bat catches fire during the next month or so. Over his last ten games, Cozens is going through somewhat of a hitting slump (.175 average over that span) but still managed to hit three homers and score eight runs.

Dylan Cozens is ranked as the Phillies #22 overall prospect in the Phillies organization according to Baseball America, while MLB.com ranks him as the ninth. 

Brandon Apter is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock

 


50 Cent Has A Rough Time Throwing A First Pitch In New York

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Back in 2005 rapper 50 Cent was one of the hottest names in entertainment.  Nine years later, he is throwing out first pitches at New York Mets games.   Tonight, in Flushing, New York, the rapper tried - and failed - at throwing out a first pitch.   He may have been hit with a few shells and doesn't walk with a limp, but his fastball sure is way off.

Watch it here: