No. 18: Outfielder Dylan Cozens
No prospect in the Phillies system got more buzz this year than Dylan Cozens, who ripped the cover off the ball game in and game out for Double-A Reading. He finished the year with 40 home runs and 125 RBI, hitting for a .276/.350/.591 line in 134 games with the Fightin’ Phils.
Even when the season was still in progress, Cozens was already rising up the ranks. Baseball America named Cozens the No. 10 prospect in the system in their midseason update, and he climbed all the way to No. 6 in the system according to MLB.com.
Cozens’s tremendous season powered him to the MLB Futures Game, where former Phillie slugger Jim Thome served as a hitting coach. Thome gave Cozens a rave review, calling him a “monster.” Thome also said:
"“He’s a physical beast with a really nice swing. He’s got great hand positioning coming through the ball and he’s very balanced for his size. He’s got a really pretty swing.”"
Once the season did end, Cozens started racking up awards too. Cozens, along with Ben Lively and Rhys Hoskins, received the Paul Owens Award from the Phillies. In addition, MLB Pipeline named Cozens the Phillies hitting prospect of the year and MiLB gave him the Joe Bauman award for the most home runs in the minor-leagues.
Normally when a prospect puts up this kind of production, he would skyrocket up rankings. However, when you dive deeper into Cozens’s monster season, some major flaws quickly emerge. For starters, Cozens benefited from Reading’s home stadium, which is extremely hitter-friendly. Cozens had a 1.118 OPS at FirstEnergy Stadium but a .766 OPS in away games.
In addition, Cozens completely struggled to hit lefties. The left-handed hitter hit for just a .197 average and five home runs in 127 at-bats against lefties. Throughout his minor-league career, Cozens has struggled mightily against lefties, and it only continued this year.
Finally, Cozens can generate lots of power with his long swing, but it also causes him to strike out a lot. Cozens swung hard and missed hard with a 31.7% strikeout rate this season. His 10.4% walk rate was a marked improvement from last year, but it doesn’t balance out his large strikeout rate.
As I’ve written before, Cozens’s major flaws make me hesitant to believe the numbers he put up this year. We will have to see him put up solid power numbers with Lehigh Valley in their pitcher-friendly park, as well as performing at least somewhat decently against left-handed pitchers. For now, it’s hard to see Cozens as much more than a platoon outfielder who can provide some pop against righties. He does have the potential for much more, but I need to see it before I believe it.