Phillies prospect Rhys Hoskins out to tackle 'challenge' of new position

Phillies prospect Rhys Hoskins out to tackle 'challenge' of new position

Not long ago, Rhys Hoskins wandered to the outfield to harmlessly shag some fly balls during batting practice.

On Monday night, he was in the outfield … for a live game.

The anticipated first base prospect started in left field for the first time in his professional career. The Phillies are experimenting a bit with Hoskins, whose bat is major-league ready but his position isn't quite open with 26-year-old Tommy Joseph currently holding down first base.

Hoskins said his venture into left field started taking shape a few weeks ago before coming to fruition — for now — during Triple A Lehigh Valley's 4-2 loss to Norfolk.

"Couple of weeks ago, they said, 'Hey, go run around the outfield a little bit during BP,'" Hoskins said pregame Monday in an interview with CSNPhilly's Marshall Harris. "It was good, get my conditioning up, keep it up towards the end of the year here. Then they told me, 'Hey, start taking it a little bit more serious, getting reads off the bat.' They talked to me about it a little bit, I felt comfortable out there and here we are tonight."

The debut saw Hoskins make four putouts and no errors over nine innings. The new setting didn't slow down his bat, as Hoskins went 2 for 5 with his 85th RBI of the season. The 24-year-old is slashing .281/.385/.568 with 27 home runs, 23 doubles and 64 walks — tied for most in the International League with teammate J.P. Crawford.

The offense is what the Phillies know about Hoskins. Now they want to know if outfield is a possibility in the future, and Hoskins sounds open to the tryout.

"That's really what it is, a new challenge," he said. "I think as a competitor, like we all are in the clubhouse and in this sport, someone presents you with a new challenge, you want to be good at it — and that's what I'll try to do.

"It's been a while since I started out there, back to college. Catch the ball, hit the cutoff, to put it in simple terms. And that's really what it is.

"I'm excited. Not nervous at all. It's the same game when it comes down to it. Catch the ball and hit the cutoff."

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hoskins was selected by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Sacramento State, where he started 37 games in left field as a freshman. Even though that was in 2012, he'll look back on the experience moving forward.

"The one thing about the corner outfield is playing the ball with a hook or the slice," he said. "As soon as I got out there, it was like, 'OK, I've got to either not give up on a ball or get a good jump on a ball that's hooked down the line.' I got my reps in the outfield during BP and we'll go from there."

Hoskins said he wasn't surprised by the move because it had been in the works and discussed ahead of time by IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan.

As for how long the project continues is unknown.

"They didn't give me any timetable," Hoskins said. "I guess we'll see how it goes tonight. There's a lot more space out there than there is at first base, but there's a guy to my left in center field that's trying do his job, too, so I think we'll be OK."

Game 1 was fine. For all Hoskins knows, this is just the beginning.

A beautiful thing: Amid more boos, Chase Utley ties Willie Mays in dominance of Mets

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AP Images

A beautiful thing: Amid more boos, Chase Utley ties Willie Mays in dominance of Mets

Nothing to see here, folks, just Chase Utley killing the Mets some more.

Seriously, will "The Man" beating up on this team ever get old? Even watching him do it in a different jersey is a treat.

Mets fans never liked Utley when he wore Phillies red. The hatred went to a whole new level when Utley broke Ruben Tejada's leg with a hard slide during the 2015 NLDS between the Dodgers and Mets. Utley was booed viciously when the series shifted to New York.

Ever since, Mets fans have booed Utley. And ever since, No. 26 has only continued to make life miserable on those New Yorkers and their baseball team ... like this.

He pestered them some more on Friday night, hitting an upper-deck shot to "Utley's Corner" in Citi Field during a 6-0 win for the MLB-leading Dodgers.

Watch here with a GIF and a link to the full video:

In 55 career games at the ballpark, Utley has 14 bombs. And get this: Utley is now tied for eighth all-time in home runs against the Mets … with Willie Mays.

So, please, Mets fans, keep booing Utley.

A big Philly sports fan, Mike Trout talks possibility of coming home to play for Phillies

A big Philly sports fan, Mike Trout talks possibility of coming home to play for Phillies

Mike Trout can't become a free agent until the 2021 season, but the Delaware Valley is already itching for him to come home and play for the Phillies.

Trout, a Millville, New Jersey, native and passionate Philly sports fan, is probably asked often about the possibility.

So, how does he answer it?

"Obviously I have a couple more years on my contract," Trout said Wednesday in a pregame interview with Phillies broadcaster Gregg Murphy. "Growing up as a kid, you always want to play for your team, but I love it in Anaheim. I can't say enough about this organization, I was brought up here and we'll see what happens."

Trout's Angels are currently taking on the Phillies in a three-game series this week. While the two-time AL MVP is focused on winning ballgames for his team, he's always keeping tabs on the Eagles, his favorite football team across the country. The 25-year-old superstar is an Eagles season-ticket holder and has gotten to know some of the players, especially quarterback Carson Wentz.

"I got to meet him last offseason, spent some time with him, went over his house a couple of times, went hunting and fishing with him," Trout said. "He's a great person, good friend. We kept in touch all the time throughout the season. Obviously he's going through camp right now.

"I talked to him yesterday, I had a cleat come out with some deer-hunting stuff on it. I sent it to him and we had a laugh about it. But like I said, I'm very passionate about the Eagles, and meeting a guy like Carson, him coming up as a rookie, seeing what he did last year — he's a great dude."

Last season, Trout was frequently seen donning midnight green at Eagles games once his 2016 campaign ended in early October. At one game, Wentz handed Trout a ball after an Eagles touchdown.

"Going to the games, seeing the guys and just cheering them on," Trout said. "I know how passionate the fans are in Philly and I want to be right here with them.

"When I go there and fans recognize me, I think it's pretty cool. Now that I know some of the guys on the team, I think it's a little bit different. You're cheering for guys that you know and you know the people they are, how good of a person they are. Just being able to go to games with my family, it means a lot to me."

If Trout's season runs long and the Angels make the playoffs — they entered Wednesday 3½ games out of the AL's second wild-card spot — he shouldn't have any problem finding takers for his seats.

"My family knows that I have season tickets and they know that I won't be able to go, so they're always hitting me up for the tickets," Trout said with a smile.

And it's not just the Eagles for Trout. He is a well-publicized Processer and even joined the LeBron James-to-Sixers push not long ago. Out in California, people know his allegiances back home.

"You can ask any of the guys in the clubhouse," Trout said, "Sixers and Eagles, it's what I talk about all the time."