Nothing is more disconcerting than starting the season by going 0 for 12 games. That is how Clearwater Threshers first baseman Art Charles started this season. But since then in his last ten games he has gone 12 for 36 at the plate for a .333 average. A long home run to the berm in right center at Bright House Field started a ten game hot steak and last night against the Lakeland Flying Tigers he went 2 for 5 to wrap up. the ten game streak. Art is back on track after looking good in the games I watched him play in the minor league spring training.
Now in his second season with the Phillies organization, Art was acquired for pitcher Michael Schwimer from the Toronto Blue Jays organization before the start of the 2013 season in what was arguably one of General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. best trades. Schwimer is now out baseball having been released by the Jays last season. Charles hit .251 with 11 home runs with Lakewood in 2013.
As I have written in previous blogs one of my highlights of the last two minor league spring camps has been watching the left handed hitting Charles and Dylan Cozens drive long balls while playing in the same line up. But because Charles is baseball age 24 and Cozens will turn baseball age 20 on May 31st, Cozens is playing this season at Class A Lakewood while Charles is one step ahead at Advanced A Clearwater.
What makes them so interesting to watch is both have the ability to his the ball to all fields with power. Two night ago at Bright House Field Charles just missed a home run to left and had to settle for an opposite field double off the left field wall. Last night at Hagerstown, Cozens hit a three run homer to left center for his first homer of the year. It is hard to judge the power they both have because Lakewood’s home park is a pitcher’s park. I seem to recall only two of Charles’ eleven home runs last season were hit at home.
More and more major league baseball teams are going to the shift particularly against left handed hitters. Nothing is more frustrating than to watch Ryan Howard his seeds into the shift to right field for outs with the Phillies. To beat the shift or stop the opposition from using it, hitters must adapt and use the entire field if they are to become and stay major league hitters in today’s sabermetrics driven, string chart driven defensive alignments.
Clearly, Art Charles and Dylan Cozens have shown that they will use the entire field in their hitting approaches and that speaks well for them as major league prospects. The future is bright for them to grab the opportunity to make it to the majors with the Phillies. Current first baseman Ryan Howard has only two more years on his contract and right fielder Marlon Byrd has only one more year on his contract opening the door for the likes of Charles and Cozens.
In last night’s game Art Charles again showed how he can use both right and left fields to get base hits. SEE HERE, SEE HERE. No team can dare us the shift against Charles. Using the entire field is one of the reasons Charles has hit .333 in his last ten games plus playing on a more of a hitter friendly home field has given him the potential to have a break out 2014 season with the Clearwater Threshers. Hopefully, Cozens can keep going deep like he did last night on the road and do some gap hitting in Lakewood where many long balls go to die in the pitcher friendly outfield there.