Phillies' promising signs for future on full display in rout of Marlins

Phillies' promising signs for future on full display in rout of Marlins


Pete Mackanin provided an interesting little observation after watching Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins combine to dominate the Miami Marlins in an 8-1 Phillies' victory Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park (see observations).
"That game reminded me of when I was here in '09, '10, '11 — good pitching, good hitting, power, good defense," Mackanin said. "Very reminiscent of when I first arrived."
Those Phillies teams that Mackanin mentioned were some of the best in franchise history. They were all division winners. One of them was a World Series team. Another won a club record 102 games.
Clearly, Mackanin was not saying that this Phillies team was like those Phillies teams. This Phillies team is on a rebuild and will have its hands full avoiding 100 losses.
But out of the rubble of this difficult season rises some hopeful signs for the future and they were on display in this game:
• Nola has put together a solid season. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball and struck out a career-high 11 to notch the win. His ERA in 25 starts is 3.60.
• Odubel Herrera had three hits in the game, including a booming, 424-foot home run to right field. He is batting .371 since June 28.
• Nick Williams came up from Triple A on June 30. He had a pair of hits and an RBI, giving him 48 in 66 games with the big club.
And then there's that Hoskins guy. He has seemingly provided a highlight every day and he did it again in this game with his third homer in two games. He added a sacrifice fly, a walk and a single.
Hoskins, Williams and Nola are all 24. Herrera is 25. Maybe one day they will make up the core of the next championship Phillies team.
"Nola had an outstanding performance," Mackanin said. "I was really happy to see Hoskins come out of his two or three at-bat slump of not hitting a home run. Odubel's home run reminded of a grand slam that Ryan Howard hit to the third deck. These guys are really swinging the bats well. It's good to see Williams and Hoskins solidify the middle of the lineup."
Hoskins has 17 homers in 33 games in the majors. Before coming up, he hit 29 in 115 games at Triple A. That's 46 on the season.
After the game, Hoskins was asked if he ever reaches the point where he surprises himself.
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I had to give a little look into the dugout and just kind of shrug. I don’t know, it’s fun, especially to win a couple in a row the way that we have. It feels good in the clubhouse, it does.
"Like I've said before, I’m confident in the ability that I have, I really am. And the work that I’m doing before games is putting me in a situation to be successful once the game starts. I know this is not going to last forever. This is baseball, it’s not going to last forever. I’ve just been lucky enough that I’m able to kind of ride this natural wave for what, almost a month now. I’m just going to try to keep riding it as much as I can."
Everybody is talking about Hoskins. Everybody in baseball knows what he's doing. He is hitting .310 with an on-base percentage of .434 and a slugging percentage of .784. He has walked 24 times.
"It's pretty amazing," Nola said. "His approach is so good. If he doesn't hit a home run, he gets a hit. If he doesn't get a hit, he walks. He's definitely sparked this offense.
"I get texts every now and then like, 'Hoskins is unbelievable.' I'm thinking like, 'Yeah, we all know.' The guy is awesome."
Hoskins has even caught the eye of Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' slugger who leads the majors with 54 home runs. They chatted around the first base bag Tuesday night.
Did Stanton tell Hoskins to stop stealing his thunder?
"No, not at all," Hoskins said with a laugh. "He's got all the thunder in baseball right now. He's chasing history."
So what did Stanton tell Hoskins?
“Just kind of keep going," Hoskins said. "Obviously the work is going to need to be there for your whole career. He just kind of reiterated that.
“It was pretty cool. That guy is obviously a star in this game. Especially with the year that he’s having, to be able to share that with him is pretty cool.”
Everyone is sharing in Hoskins' success. The attendance at Citizens Bank Park was just 16,745 on Wednesday night, but the fans loved the show he put on.
The manager liked it, too.
"Actually, I'm going to get his autograph on a ball today," Mackanin said. "It's really outstanding. It's fun to watch."

Rhys Hoskins on 'surreal' rookie year, position switch, expectations

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Rhys Hoskins on 'surreal' rookie year, position switch, expectations

For a couple of weeks in August, Rhys Hoskins might have been Philadelphia's most popular athlete. Fans marveled at the nightly power display that the young slugger put on in the middle of the Phillies' batting order. Carson Wentz and the Eagles had not yet begun their magnificent season. Hoskins was the man in town.

It hit him one night after a game. He stopped in Center City for some late-night eats. A man and his young son approached. They offered their congratulations and asked for an autograph.

"That's when I was like, 'OK, this might be something that's about to be part of my life,' " Hoskins said. "But it was cool because I used to be that kid."

Hoskins was back in the area Monday night for the 114th Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Dinner. He was honored with a special achievement award for a torrid major league debut in which he clubbed 18 homers and drove in 48 runs in just 50 games last season.

Hoskins was raised in Sacramento, California but moved to San Diego this offseason. His 18 homers in 2017 were the most ever hit by a player who did not make his season debut until after Aug. 1. Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who hit 13 homers after returning from the Korean War in 1953, was the previous record holder.

Williams was a San Diego native.

"Surreal," Hoskins said of that 50-game stretch last season and the buzz that has followed him into the offseason. "Indescribable."

He is now a recognizable face, a signature talent, in a sports-crazy town.

And he's ready for it.

"Enjoy it," he said. "Take it by storm and enjoy it. It's supposed to be fun and that's probably the best approach to take. I think my thought is what happened may never happen again. Tomorrow something might happen. Tomorrow I might never be able to step on a baseball field again. So I think you have to take it by storm and enjoy it.

"If you had asked me a year ago if I would be walking down the streets of Philadelphia and would people recognize me I'd probably laugh at you. But that’s where we are now.

"It's just a testament to how passionate the people of Philadelphia are and how much they love their sports."

Hoskins will report to Clearwater for spring training at the end of this month. He wants to get a head start so he can ramp up his workouts in left field. A first baseman by trade, he began playing the position occasionally last season. He will move there full-time in 2018 as newly signed Carlos Santana takes over at first base.

Hoskins got a 30-game taste of left field last year. He is OK with the move.

"Having Carlos is exciting for the city and exciting for the team," Hoskins said. "We add a guy who has proven himself in this league for five or six years at a very high level so to kind of insert that into the lineup and into the clubhouse, especially with such a young team — I think we're going to feel that exponentially throughout the year.

"Left field is a challenge. It's a challenge that I'm definitely excited about. I started to feel more comfortable out there toward the end of the year.

"I think I can be just fine out there. I'm not necessarily going to be a Gold Glover. I just don’t have the speed that some guys out there do, especially in today's game. But I think I'll be just fine and contribute to the team defensively as much as I can and make the plays that I'm supposed to."

Hoskins will turn 25 on March 17. He projects to bat cleanup in new manager Gabe Kapler's lineup.

"He's energized, intense and thorough," Hoskins said of the new skipper. "He can captivate a room. I'm curious to see how that dynamic works in the clubhouse. I think he's going to be a pretty exciting guy to work with."

Phillies sign 3 to clear up arbitration cases

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Phillies sign 3 to clear up arbitration cases

Updated: 3:15 p.m.

The Phillies wrapped up all of their potential salary arbitration cases when they agreed to 2018 contracts with infielders Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco and relief pitcher Luis Garcia on Friday.

Earlier in the week, the team agreed on a contract with catcher Cameron Rupp.

Those were the club's only arbitration-eligible players.

Hernandez, a second-time arbitration-eligible player, will make $5.1 million in 2018, up from $2.55 million last season. 

Franco and Garcia were both eligible for salary arbitration for the first time.

Franco will make $2.95 million, up from $560,000 last season. The 25-year-old third baseman had a disappointing season in 2017, hitting just .230 with a .281 on-base percentage. He did hit a team-high 24 home runs.

Franco has great potential and club management will be looking for him to put it together in 2018. But even a strong season from Franco probably won't sway the club away from making a run at Manny Machado, who is scheduled to hit the free-agent market next winter.

Garcia, who turns 31 later this month, will make $1.2 million in 2018, up from $550,000 last year.

Back in October, new manager Gabe Kapler mentioned Garcia as a player who had caught his attention. Consistency had long eluded the hard-throwing right-hander but he found it in 2017 and had his best season. He added a splitter to his power fastball-slider mix and posted a 2.65 ERA in 66 games. He gave up just four earned runs in 22⅓ innings over his final 23 games, and three of those runs came in one outing.

Hernandez, the team's 27-year-old second baseman, has been one of the Phils' top players the last two seasons. He hit .294 and posted a .372 on-base percentage over that span.

The Phils are deep at second base and top prospect Scott Kingery is expected to be ready to arrive in the majors during the first half of the 2018 season. With Kingery coming, there is a chance the Phils could cash in on Hernandez's value and trade him for pitching sometime between now and Kingery's expected arrival.

Hernandez will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.

Hernandez's former double-play mate, Freddy Galvis, was traded to San Diego in December. Rookie J.P. Crawford will move in at shortstop in 2018. Galvis settled his potential arbitration case with the Padres on Friday when he agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.825 million.

Rupp, who was eligible for arbitration for the first time, will make $2.05 million in 2018. He is one of three catchers on the 40-man roster along with Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp. Alfaro is out of minor-league options and will be given the chance to be the team's No. 1 catcher in April.