Prospect Profile: Slugging Cozens Trying to Find Footing with Blueclaws

DSC_6823_szcmkm9d_m1ldzb6e

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