Friday, October 21, 2016

Two top Phils prospects face off in Dominican League opener

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Hoskins, image- Jay Floyd
Another off-season league got underway on Thursday with the Aguilas hosting the rival Gigantes, but it was the pitting of two teammates against one another that should be of interest to Phillies fans. The co-winners of this year's Phillies Paul Owens Award, an honor bestowed upon players chosen as the top developmental performers in the organization each year, Dylan Cozens and Rhys Hoskins, faced off in the contest.

The two sluggers led their 2016 regular season club, the Reading Fightin Phils, to a division title in the Double-A Eastern League this year.

It was Cozens, who went 0-for-4 in the game, and his Aguilas that were victorious by a score of 4-2 over Hoskins (1-for-3, HBP) and his Gigantes team.

Also in that game for the Gigantes, Phillies starting pitcher Alec Asher tossed five scoreless frames for a no decision. The 25-year-old righty posted a 2-1 record along with a 2.28 ERA in five big league starts this year.

Cozens, the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player, posted a .276 batting average with 40 home runs and 125 RBI in 134 games for Reading. The lefty batting 22-year-old right fielder was the Phillies’ 2nd round draft pick out of high school in 2012.

Hoskins, a 23-year-old righty batting first baseman, tallied a .281 batting average with 38 home runs and 116 RBI in 135 games with Reading this year. A Sacramento State product, Hoskins was the Phillies' 5th round draft selection in 2014.

Elsewhere in off-season leagues, outfield prospect Carlos Tocci is batting .326 with two doubles and five RBI in 12 games for the Tigres of the Venezuelan Winter League.

In the Arizona Fall League, third baseman Mitch Walding sports a .316 batting average with a double, a triple, an RBI and two steals in six games for Scottsdale. The lefty batting 23-year-old was a 5th round pick of the Phillies in 2011. Walding has played some first base thus far for the Scorpions.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Phils prospect Rodriguez hits for cycle in VZ League

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Herlis Rodriguez, image- Jay Floyd
For those who haven't realized that off-season baseball leagues are underway, Phillies outfield prospect Herlis Rodriguez served up an news flash about the action that's already popping off, as he hit for the cycle on Saturday in Zulia's 16-3 win over La GuairĂ¡ in the Venezuelan Winter League.

As the nine-hole hitter for the Aguilas, the 22-year-old lefty batter, who spent his 2016 regular season this year with Class A Advanced Clearwater, got his night rolling with a run scoring double in the 2nd inning. In the 3rd inning, Rodriguez would single home another pair of runs.

After grounding into a double play in his next at bat, Rodriguez, who played center field and left field in the game, would slug a home run in the 6th, leaving him a triple shy of the rare feat. In his last plate appearance of the night, the native of Colon, VZ would lace a triple deep to right field that scored a pair of runs that completed the onslaught for Zulia in the rout of their rival.

It's hard to imagine a more exciting outing for an offensive player, but Rodriguez added to the cycle and his seven RBI with a steal on home. Yes, he also stole home plate in the 2nd inning.

With a record of 3-0 thus far in the VZ League, Zulia has scored double digits in each of its contest, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 39-18.

In the regular season this year, the six-foot 170-pound Rodriguez posted a slash line of .213/.282/.277 in 48 games for the Threshers. He missed much of the season with two separate stints on the disabled list.

Also in Saturday's game for Zulia, designated hitter Wilson Garcia went 3-for-6 while shortstop William Cuicas went 0-for-1. Both Garcia and Cuicas played with Class A Lakewood this season.

For La GuairĂ¡, first baseman Brock Stassi was 0-for-2 with three walks in the contest. Stassi, was the Double-A Eastern League Most Valuable Player as a member of the Reading roster last year. In 117 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year, the 27-year-old lefty batter posted a .267 average with 12 home runs and 58 RBI.

Several other Phillies prospects are in action in Venezuela, including outfielder Carlos Tocci and lefty reliever Hoby Milner.

The Arizona Fall League, which will feature Phillies hurlers Brandon Leibrandt, Miguel Nunez and Jeff Singer along with second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Mitch Walding and outfielder Aaron Brown, is slated to open its season this coming Tuesday, October 11th.

Additionally, the Mexican Pacific League will open its season on Sunday, October 9th, the Dominican Winter League opens next Saturday October 15th and the Puerto Rican League, also known as the Roberto Clemente League, holds its opening day on October 30th. Further abroad, the Australian Baseball League doesn't begin until November 17th.

This article originally appeared on Phillies Nation.