MIAMI -- It's only a matter of time now for Rhys Hoskins. He will be wearing red pinstripes, playing for the Phillies, soon. The call might be a week away. It might be two or three weeks away. But it's coming. Real soon.
Is he ready for the jump?
"Of course, I'm ready," he said Sunday afternoon.
Yes, Hoskins is a confident young man.
You'd be, too, if you'd put up the numbers that he has since joining the Phillies' organization as a fifth-round draft pick out of Sacramento State University in 2014.
The slugging first baseman hit .319 with 17 homers, 90 RBIs and a .913 OPS in his first full season of Single A ball in 2015.
He moved to Double A last year and hit .281 with 38 homers, 116 RBIs and a .943 OPS.
This year, he has moved to Triple A, the threshold of the majors. In 88 games for Lehigh Valley, he has hit .289 with 20 homers, 66 RBIs and a .961 OPS.
These numbers, along with his improved selectivity at the plate — his walks are up and his strikeouts down — have the 24-year-old Hoskins looking like the Phillies' first baseman of the future, and club officials seem eager to give him a look in the majors while there is still a good chunk of the 2017 season left.
There's one hitch: Tommy Joseph, who turns 26 next week, is having a solid season as the first baseman in Philadelphia. Joseph got off to a slow start and turned things around in May. Had he not done that, Hoskins would already be in Philadelphia.
But, Joseph, who ended the first half of the season hitting .252 with 15 homers, 43 RBIs and a .779 OPS, might not be able to hold off Hoskins much longer. According to sources, the Phillies have made Joseph available for a trade as they look to clear a spot for Hoskins.
Hoskins received a hall pass from Lehigh Valley to play in Major League Baseball's Futures Game on Sunday. Before the game, he indicated that he was aware that the Phillies' first-base situation was coming to a head as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
"Yeah," he said, acknowledging the trade deadline and how it could impact him. "That's something that's way out of my control. It's out of Tommy's control. He's been a good player. The guy can hit. I think he's shown that. You know, whatever happens, happens. I hope it works out the best for both of us and we both get an opportunity soon."
That's not going to happen with the Phillies. Even manager Pete Mackanin has acknowledged that Joseph and Hoskins, similar in that a lack of foot speed limits them to just first base, can't "coexist" on the same team (see story).
So a solution draws near.
The first-base logjam is actually a good problem for the Phillies — a team can never have enough good options at a position — just like it was a little more than a decade ago when another fifth-round draft pick, Ryan Howard, forced the Phillies to move Jim Thome.
Hoskins made people notice him last season with those 38 homers and 116 RBIs at Double A.
"I think if you were to tell me last year that I was going to hit 38 home runs, I probably would have laughed at you just because that's not the type of hitter that I think I am," he said. "I want to be a hitter first, doubles guy, gap guy, some of them go over the fence."
Hoskins displayed some of his hitter's acumen in his first at-bat Sunday. He took a first-pitch, 96-mph fastball from World Team pitcher Yadier Alvarez then lined the second pitch, an 86-mph breaking ball into left field to help set up a run.
Hoskins struck out 125 times (20 percent of the time) and walked 71 times (12 percent) last season. He has improved those marks this season, striking out just 53 times (15 percent) and walking 47 times (13 percent). The ability to work counts and avoid strikeouts is something this Phillies' front office values greatly and could ultimately push Hoskins ahead of Joseph.
Hoskins is happy with the improvements he has made in his selectivity and believes he can continue it.
"I think that's the biggest separator between this year and last year, being selective at the plate and patient and getting more pitches to hit," he said. "It has to be a mindset. A lot of it is preparation, knowing what the pitcher has, what he's done in the past to a hitter like myself and sticking to that plan and being stubborn to it."
Next stop for Hoskins is the Triple A All-Star Game in Tacoma on Wednesday night.
Then it's back to Lehigh Valley, but probably not for long.
He has hit his way to the doorstep of Philadelphia and will soon walk through the door.
"I honestly don’t know when it's going to happen," Hoskins said. "I wish I did. It would be nice to know. I just have to keep my head down and keep working. You still have to hit wherever you go and that's the way, ultimately, I'm going to get where I want to be."