Slimmer But Stronger, Reading's Dylan Cozens Finding Power Stroke

READING, Pa. - Dylan Cozens is one of the hottest hitters in the Phillies' organization. Since April 22, the Double A outfielder has hit safely in 14 of 16 games, raising his batting average over 50 points in the process, from .208 to .264 entering Monday night.

In case you hadn't noticed though, don't worry - you're not alone. Cozens himself claimed not to realize quite how good he's been of late.

"I wasn't aware I had done that until right now," Cozens, with a warm grin stretching across his face, said of his recent feats. "Obviously, you try to get a hit every day, but I'm not really looking at things like that. I'm just trying to help my team win as many games as possible."

Cozens isn't merely getting a hit every day, either. The 21-year-old appears to be coming into his own as a power hitter, pounding the gaps and driving balls over the fence for Reading at a startling rate.

Nine of Cozens' 18 hits over that span have gone for extra bases, growing his slugging percentage from .434 to .527, good for second in the Eastern League. The 2012 second-round pick also swatted four of his seven home runs (third-most) during the run.

One glance at Cozens - listed as 6-foot-6, 235 pounds - and it's no surprise he can crush the ball a long way. Then again, the seven home runs are only one shy of his total for all of last season, and nearly halfway to the 16 he hit in 2014.

"Honestly, I think I'm just getting better, trying to perfect my swing," Cozens said.

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Cozens' improved approach at the plate is a sign of his development. He is beginning to show more patience, already drawing 15 walks in 126 plate appearances. In 2015, he amassed all of 26 in 456 trips to the dish.

But that's not the only approach Cozens changed. Long a believer in weight training, the big left-hander acknowledged he backed down that aspect of his workout regimen, focusing his physical fitness efforts in other areas. The result: a leaner, more balanced form, and ironically, increased strength.

"I didn't lose that much weight, only about 10 or 15 pounds," Cozens said. "I didn't hit the weights as much and instead improved my flexibility, running, speed work, things like that.

"I think it definitely paid off. My swing isn't as tight as it was and I feel like I'm a lot stronger."

Cozens' power surge likely doesn't come as a surprise to Pete Mackanin. The Phillies' big-league manager came away impressed this spring after watching a single batting practice.

"I like Dylan Cozens," Mackanin said after the Phillies' Futures Game in April. "We took him to Port Charlotte for a spring training game as a backup in case somebody got hurt, and after I watched his batting practice, he hit so many home runs a long way that I said, 'I'm gonna try to get him two at-bats,' and I did.

"I like him a lot."

Cozens' surge is also encouraging given he's still fairly new to the Double A level. He played just 11 games at Reading in 2015, making a combined 40 games over the past two seasons. In that brief period of time, Cozens is batting .287 with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 31 RBIs.

Despite the fast start, a promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley is likely still a ways off. No matter. Cozens, humble and genuine, just seems to be enjoying playing baseball, and playing it very well at that.

"I'm not really worried about things like that," Cozens said. "If they want to call me up, I would love that, but I'm trying to dominate the competition no matter what level I'm on."

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