Cozens keeps busy over midseason break

After Futures Game, Double-A slugger slated for Eastern League ASG

Cozens keeps busy over midseason break

READING, Pa. -- Dylan Cozens has a busy week ahead of him.

First he flew from Reading to San Diego for Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. His appearance in the game was brief, as he flied out in foul territory in his only at-bat of the World Team's 11-3 victory over the U.S. Now he heads to Akron, Ohio, where he will play in the Eastern League All-Star Game on Wednesday. The Reading Fightin' Phillies play in Trenton, N.J., the next night. So much for a midseason break.

Of course, all this comes as a result of being the most prolific power hitter in the Minor Leagues this season. His 24 home runs trail only teammate Rhys Hoskins' 25, but Cozens' .590 slugging percentage is 18 points higher than that of Hoskins, who hits behind Cozens in the Reading lineup.

"Most of the time, I'm in the on-deck circle trying to get ready for my at-bat," Hoskins said. "But sometimes I'll catch myself just watching him."

Cozens, however, was challenged to put that power on display in pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego. Using the winds blowing off the Schuylkill River to his advantage at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium, Cozens has hit all but four of his dingers at home. His slugging percentage drops from an unreal .802 in Reading to .383 on the road.

Those splits, plus those versus righties (.313/.397/.653) compared to lefties (.186/.284/.357), could concern Phillies fans, but Cozens' mature approach at the plate should temper those fears.

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Teammates lauded not only his knowledge of the strike zone but the way he adjusted to Double-A hurlers beginning to pitch around him. Although Cozens is still striking out in nearly one-third of his at-bats (108 K's in 329 ABs), he has also drawn 47 walks. That ranks second in the Eastern League only to Indians' No. 1 prospect Bradley Zimmer.

Cozens cut down on the K's last season at High A Clearwater, whiffing only once in about every 4.5 at-bats. That was a direct result of the organization's efforts to limit the second-rounder's strikeouts since drafting him in 2012. In turn, it resulted in far fewer home runs. Cozens slugged only eight across three levels in 2015, though he did maintain his gap power, recording 25 two-baggers.

Having been unleashed in a hitter's park in 2016, Cozens already has one more double and 16 additional dingers than last season -- in 91 fewer at-bats.

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.