Rhys Hoskins' quickest path to the big leagues could be through left field.
Hoskins started in left Monday night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It is the first time Hoskins, 24, has played anywhere other than first base in 453 games in the Minor Leagues, and he fared well, snagging five routine fly balls, according to Philly.com. Only two balls got past Hoskins: a double and a triple, neither of which were catchable balls for a normal outfielder.
MLB.com wrote last week that Hoskins was likely to join the Phillies before the end of the month, but if he fares well enough in left he could be up much sooner than that.
In fact, Hoskins could be promoted in the coming days while outfielder Aaron Altherr is on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. It would allow Hoskins an opportunity to play regularly, rather than share time at first base with Tommy Joseph.
It is unlikely that left field is a long-term solution for Hoskins, whom MLBPipeline.com considers the No. 71 prospect in baseball. The Phillies indicated just last month that they didn't consider the outfield an option for him. The Phillies view Hoskins as a first baseman, and it would not be a surprise to see him their for Opening Day 2018.
But right now, Joseph has Hoskins blocked at first, and Joseph has earned the right to keep his job. After a poor April, Joseph has hit .261 with 20 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs, 47 RBIs and an .805 OPS in 339 plate appearances. The Phillies tried to trade Joseph before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but found little interest. They could try again in the offseason.
Hoskins entered Monday hitting .280 with 23 doubles, four triples, 27 home runs, 84 RBIs and a .955 OPS in 460 plate appearances. He has walked 64 times and struck out just 73 times. His ability to control the strike zone is a skill the Phillies' front office covets.
But it is clear that Hoskins has nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues. If he can't play regularly at first, they just might have found him an opportunity somewhere else.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.