Phillies' Experiment With Rhys Hoskins in Outfield Came Together in a Flash

Here's how quickly the Rhys Hoskins/outfield experiment came together:

He did not get his own outfielder's glove until Wednesday, the day he played outfield for just the third time in 455 professional games.

"It was a rush order," he said, showing off the new leather on his first day as a big-leaguer Thursday. "Before that I was using one of (pitcher) Ben Lively's extra gloves."
A couple of weeks of pregame outfield workouts and three games in the outfield at the Triple A level were enough to convince Phillies management to give Hoskins, a natural first baseman, a look in the outfield. He was promoted from Lehigh Valley to the majors on Thursday, in time to start in left field against the New York Mets.

"For Hoskins, we've talked about it all year," general manager Matt Klentak said, "his performance needs to meet up with the opportunity. He was taking care of [the performance], but he needed some help with the other half. Really, the trade of Howie Kendrick 10 days ago, coupled with Aaron Altherr's hamstring injury, is what created the opportunity. 

"He had been working out pretty hard for the two or three weeks. He was taking fly balls in left field during batting practice. Once the Altherr injury recurred, then we got him out there for a few games in left field. He demonstrated that he can handle it. Once he proved that to us, we decided to bring him up."

Hoskins, 24, more than proved his readiness with the bat. After putting up big numbers in Single A and Double A in 2015 and 2016, respectively, he hit .284 with 24 doubles, 29 homers, 91 RBIs and a .966 OPS in 115 games at Lehigh Valley this season.

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Truth be told, Hoskins has been ready for a big-league challenge for a couple of months. His promotion would have come sooner if Tommy Joseph, the Phillies' starting first baseman, hadn't come alive at the plate in May. The Phillies made Joseph available for a trade in July, but a deal could not be struck. The Hoskins/outfield experiment intensified around the trade deadline and the trade of Kendrick to Washington, coupled with Altherr's injury, facilitated Hoskins' presence in left field at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night.

Hoskins is here for the remainder of the season. Phillies management wants him to get as many at-bats as possible to help his adjustment to big-league pitching. The front office also wants to gauge his readiness to claim an everyday spot in the lineup for the start of next season. That would likely come at first base. Hoskins will continue to get pregame work at the position and will play there on occasion. The team will likely continue to shop Joseph in the offseason while hoping he can use the final seven weeks of the season build trade value.

"I'm going to get him as many at-bats as I can," manager Pete Mackanin said of Hoskins. "The whole goal is to find good hitters. Tommy is a good hitter and so is Rhys Hoskins and we want to get as many good hitters as we can. I told Tommy, 'I'm not throwing you by the wayside, you're going to play, too.' I have confidence in Tommy, as well. It's just a matter of finding as many good hitters as possible and finding a way to play them."

Hoskins, selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Sacramento State University, is a confident guy. At Major League Baseball's Futures Game in Miami last month, he was asked if he believed he was ready for the big leagues.

"Of course I'm ready," he replied (see story).

At that time, he was strictly a first baseman; the outfield experiment had not yet begun.

For the record, Hoskins has some outfield on his resume. He played left field as a college freshman and also in the Cape Cod League. He believes he can handle the assignment - for however long it lasts.

"I'm here and I'm playing left field tonight and that's what I'm focused on," Hoskins said. "They've said, ‘Hey, we still want you to do your work at first,' so I think that means they'll be some first base in the future. But as for tonight, I'll be in left field. I'm excited to get going."

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