It has been long documented, especially here at Phillies Nation, that much of this season was going to be a let’s-see-what-happens-with-what-we-got season. While the IronPigs are stocked with potential future stars, the Phillies are in a position where they can continue to let prospects develop instead of rushing them up to the big leagues before they’re ready.
Well, we’re 12 games in and chatter has already begun about when the Phillies should start turning over the roster. It was expected. What wasn’t expected are the loudest rumblings aren’t about No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford. Or even Nick Williams or Dylan Cozens. They’re about first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
To say Tommy Joseph has had a slow start to the season is an understatement. In 10 games he’s hitting just .156/.200/.281 with one home run, four RBI, and two walks. This is coming off a season where he basically came out of nowhere and shocked the Phillies by hitting .257/.308/.505 with 21 homers and 47 RBI in 107 games.
With Ryan Howard officially out of the picture, the thought heading into 2017 was that it was Joseph’s job to lose.
So, has he lost it already? The answer should be no.
Sure, the Phillies have been burned in the past by letting players get second and third and fourth chances (ahem, Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf). This is different. First, the season is only two weeks young. The odds of Joseph continuing to play this poorly going forward are slim. He still has to prove that he is more than just a platoon hitter, but even his numbers against righties are better than what he’s hitting now. In 2016 he hit .281/.350/.562 against lefties and hit just .248/.291/.482 against righties.
The rest of the lineup isn’t exactly hitting the cover off the ball either, especially the hitters batting in front of and behind Joseph. He, Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders are a combined 22-for-111 with just eight extra base hits and 23 strikeouts.
Joseph is clearly struggling to build on his 2016 success. Meanwhile in Lehigh Valley, Hoskins is picking up exactly where he left off. The 24-year-old right-hander is hitting .324/.452/.676 with three home runs, seven RBIs and seven walks. Last season Hoskins hit .281/.377/.566 with 38 home runs in Reading and impressed Phillies brass in his limited at-bats in spring training.
If Hoskins keeps this level of play up while Joseph fails to improve, it’s fair to say we’ll be seeing Hoskins in 2018, if not sooner. It’s not fair, however, to pull the plug on Joseph just yet. It took Joseph a trade, five concussions and a position change to reach the big leagues. He deserves more than a couple of months to show he belongs.