Hoskins hoping to make bigs in 2017

Phils' No. 12 prospect among 16 spring non-roster invitees

Hoskins hoping to make bigs in 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- First baseman Rhys Hoskins got a bit of good news Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Hoskins will leave the cold winter weather in Cleveland for the warmth in Clearwater, Fla., a little earlier than expected. The Phillies have asked him to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Three other Phils prospects received the same invitation at the organization's annual four-day prospect education program: right-hander Victor Arano, second baseman Scott Kingery and outfielder Andrew Pullin.

The other five prospects in attendance -- catcher Jorge Alfaro, right-hander Drew Anderson, outfielder Dylan Cozens, left-hander Elniery Garcia and right-hander Nick Pivetta -- did not need an invite because they were placed on the 40-man roster in November.

"I don't know about expecting it," Hoskins said about the invite. "But hoping, definitely. You never know. I show up and try to do my job, wherever it is. But I'm definitely excited about the opportunity."

The Phillies announced 16 non-roster invitees Wednesday, including the organization's No. 1 prospect, J.P. Crawford. The rest of the group includes Pedro Beato, Taylor Featherston, Dalier Hinojosa, Bryan Holaday, Michael Mariot, Logan Moore, Colton Murray, Chace Numata, Cam Perkins, Cesar Ramos and Brock Stassi.

Hoskins, 23, is the No. 12 prospect in the organization. He hit .281 with 38 home runs, 116 RBIs and a .943 OPS in 135 games with Double-A Reading. The Phils named him and Cozens their Minor League Players of the Year.

Hoskins is expected to open the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which should have a roster loaded with talent.

"I've never played in the big leagues, and most of the guys there have," Hoskins said about his first big league camp. "You get to see how guys prepare. It's gotten them to where I want to be, so if there's a thing from someone else I can pick up here and there that may add to some of my success, then I think that'll be a good thing."

Hoskins, whom the Phillies selected in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft, said he will try take the next step by controlling the strike zone and improving his defense.

"Bringing down the strikeouts," said Hoskins, who struck out 125 times in 498 at-bats. "Swinging at pitches that I can do some damage on, instead of maybe reaching for a pitch when I don't have to with less than two strikes or getting out of my comfort zone, hitting the pitcher's pitch, that type of thing."

Hoskins already seems to have a pretty good feel for the strike zone. He walked 71 times this past season and has a career .372 on-base percentage in three Minor League seasons. With power like that and the ability to get on base, the Phils would likely take that type of production in the big leagues.

"When I got into pro ball, I set a goal for myself," Hoskins said. "I said if I went up a level each year, I felt I was progressing. It's gone a little better than that, thankfully. Hopefully I can continue on that path."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.