It’s that time of the year when everyone picks the top “Players of the Year” in some category or the other at the minor league level. My picks for the top Phillies minor league hitting and pitching prospects are hitters, LH bat, Dylan Cozens, and RH bat, Rhys Hoskins and pitchers, RH arm, Ben Lively and, LH arm, Elniery Garcia.
The MLB Pipeline selected Dylan Cozens and Ben Lively as its Phillies Minor League Players of Year. Read HERE.
the Paul Owens Award is given by the Phillies to its top minor league position and pitcher. They selected both Cozens and Hoskins as a tie for the top position player and Lively was the top pitcher.
Watch a Cozens home run at Reading and a Hoskins home run at Citizens Bank Park in the two Phillies Futures games at the end of March, HERE. (Scroll down to the third video on the page.)
Cozens and Hoskins battled all season for the minor league home run lead. Cozens finished with 40 homers and Hoskins 38. They both homered once in the playoffs.
My major concern with Cozens has been his extreme hitting splits. He hit only .197 with a .640 OPS against left-handed pitching but did hit .302 with 1.037 OPS against RHP.
Hoskins hit .277 with a 1.024 OPS against LHP and .282 with a .920 OPS against RHP in the regular season. His ability to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers indicates his bat is major league ready.
Lively lost his playoff start for Lehigh Valley giving up a two-run home run in the eight inning for a 2-0 loss to finish the season at 18-6 between Reading and Lehigh Valley for the most wins in minor league baseball.
Garcia went 13-4 including Reading’s only playoff win. His .765 winning percentage was slightly higher than Lively’s .750 and one of the highest in minor league baseball for those pitchers starting at least 20 games.
Garcia’s regular season ERA was 2.68. Lively’s regular season ERA was a combined 2.69 between Reading and Lehigh Valley. Can’t any closer than that!
Garcia won his last two starts which were both elimination games–Clearwater to qualify for the FSL playoffs and Reading in the first round of the EL playoffs. Both teams were eliminated in their next games.
In my opinion Garcia is the best “big-game” pitcher they had in 2016 and a rare left-handed starter at the higher levels of the organization. In his last three starts down the stretch when it really counted including his debut at Reading in the playoffs, he went 3-0, pitching 20 innings, giving up only 12 hits, 4 earned runs and striking out 22. He, as we like to say “finished strong”.
Garcia put up some other interesting numbers at high A. In six of his 19 starts at Clearwater he gave up no earned runs. In one game with the Threshers he threw 115 pitches for the second most of any pitcher in one game in the Phillies minor league system.
Garcia struck out 14 in a nine-inning combined stretch over his last start in high A and his next and last start of the season in the AA playoffs.
Watch below the best nine inning stretch of pitching that I saw anywhere in the 2016 season:
- Garcia struck out 11 in 7 innings in his final start and playoff qualifying elimination game with Clearwater . Watch HERE.
- Then, Garcia struck out the side in order in the second inning of his next start in his Reading debut against Trenton in an Eastern League playoff elimination game. Watch HERE.
Finally to end the 2016 Phillies minor league season, the Reading Fightins put together an end of year team summary. It’s a great review of an impressive year for Reading. Watch HERE.