Comparing Rhys Hoskins to past hyped prospects

Rhys Hoskins / Photo by: Lauren McLaughlin

Someone like Rhys Hoskins only comes along once in a generation for a team’s fans, right?

Well, maybe not.

His performance? Yeah, no newcomer to the major leagues has ever hit home runs at this quick rate. No Phillies player, no baseball player. In that sense, he’s unmatched.

But hype? Yeah, we’ve seen this level of prospect hype before.

Just for perspective, let’s take a look back (in no particular order) at some of the biggest rookie hype we’ve seen in the last 25 years or so, with Hoskins the baseline of, say, a 9 on the hype meter:

RYAN HOWARD: There wasn’t a ton of hype when Howard came up for a cup of coffee in 2004. Jim Thome was only in the second year of his six-year contract and was beloved by fans. And Howard had only truly broken out that year with a phenomenal season at Reading. But when Thome scuffled in 2005 and Howard annihilated triple-A pitching in Scranton, yeah, there was hype. And it was the same “How the heck can he stay in the minors when he’s mashing like this?” hype that Hoskins had all this season. Fate intervened. Thome got hurt and Howard jumped in to take over first base – for the next 11 years. HYPE METER: 9.5

BRANDON DUCKWORTH: Don’t laugh. In 2001, the Phillies were surprisingly wrapped up in a pennant race in August despite trotting out Amaury Telemaco every five days. Meanwhile, Duckworth – too old to be pitching in the minors anyway at 25 – had made the International League his play toy in Scranton (13-2, 2.63 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, less than one HR/9 for the abbreviated season). Yet, David Coggin was still prominently involved in the major league rotation. We had enough, and we wanted Duckworth up. It seemed like a godsend the second Duckworth got called up to pitch in early August, throwing four quality starts out of the chute, winning his first two games. How much of a godsend? Before he even threw a pitch in his first game on Aug. 7, there already was a group of 700 Levelers that had formed the “Quack Pack” for Duckworth. It was no Wolf Pack, it was barely even Padilla’s Flotillas, but those groups didn’t form BEFORE their guys even played. HYPE METER: 6, only because we knew it was fool’s gold.

PAT COMBS: Wait, whhhhhaaaaaat? The Phillies scrap heap is littered with guys who came up in September for roster expansion, pitched well and were never heard from again. But what separates Combs from the Joe Roas is that Combs actually was a legit prospect. He was one of the last cuts from the loaded 1988 Olympic gold medal baseball team, the 11th pick in the ’88 draft out of Baylor and was fast-tracked to Philly. His last stop at Scranton in 1989? Three games, three wins, 0.37 ERA. He then dominated in Philly for September, winning four of his six starts and posting a 2.09 ERA. His Philly starts that month were electric; you genuinely felt like you were watching the team’s future ace. But that never came close to materializing. HYPE METER: 7

JIMMY ROLLINS: It’s easy to forget now, but Jimmy still had tons of question marks when he came up in September 2000. He was fast and could field – no one doubted that. But he never really hit consistently in the minors, his plate discipline was questionable and any power that might develop was strictly dependent on him – it wasn’t natural. When he was handed the starting shortstop job in 2001, the team’s No. 1 prospect still had questions. But he answered them all and then some, skillfully using his speed to turn doubles into triples on the speedy Vet turf a couple times a month. He put the 2001 Phillies on his rookie back and gave notice that the hype was real. HYPE METER: 7.5

BRETT MYERS: Outside of 2001, the late 1990s and early 2000s Phillies consistently disappointed, especially the pitching staff (Andy Ashby, anyone?). So when Brett Myers earned the moniker of No. 1 prospect in 2002, all eyes were on him to save the team. His Scranton numbers that year were good, not great, but all that changed on a sun-soaked Wrigley afternoon in July. He gave up just two hits (with the wind not much of a factor either way) in his eight debut innings on just 90 pitches, out-dueling uber prospect Mark Prior. Whatever Myers lacked in hype before his call-up, he got it all back that afternoon. HYPE METER: 7

PAT BURRELL: The shine of his hype wore down some because of his mysterious slump of 2003, but Burrell already was a legendary hitter when the Phillies drafted him in 1998. People – especially women – flocked to see him, and he never disappointed through the minors (career .969 OPS in 220 minor league games). Even though his hitting was legendary, he had to be shoehorned into a corner outfield spot, and he never had to carry the team. His hype once he reached the majors was “How good can he and Scott Rolen be together???” not “How good is Pat Burrell going to be???” HYPE METER: 8. But it’s a 27 if you count his … ahem … off-the-field reputation with the fairer sex.

COLE HAMELS: Mothers Day 2006. I had seen some big walk-up crowds at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons games, but I had never seen anything like this. The line was 2,500 people long, easy, at a stadium that got 1,000 walk-ups on a great night. In the parking lot, my dad and I took note of the cars pulling in. Lots of New Jersey and Delaware license plates, lot of stickers from Philadelphia-area car dealerships. My brother had come up from Philly. Luckily, we saw this coming and had bought tickets the day before to see Hamels in what was undoubtedly his last minor-league game. Pitching in a pink Mom’s Day jersey, he dominated yet again (2-0, 0.39 ERA, 36 K, 1 BB in whiffle-ball like numbers in three Scranton starts) and was on his way to Philly to anchor the rotation for the next decade, completely fulfilling the hype of that afternoon. He is quite possibly the best blueprint of Phillies hype: Young first rounder, minor-league dominance that attracted tons of attention, exciting debut, complete career fulfillment and continued unbridled love from Phillies fans. HYPE METER: 10

DOMINIC BROWN: We all remember his breakout two months of 2013, so thankfully I don’t have to write about Mr. Untouchable again and how disappointing his career became after that. But I know of at least three people that bought Dom Brown jerseys in those fateful seven weeks. HYPE METER: 8

MAIKEL FRANCO: The Phillies stunk in 2014, we all knew it. Maikel Franco came up for September, looked overmatched and we yawned. But when he mashed in triple-A in 2015 and got the midseason call-up, we yawned no more. Franco looked like a legitimate franchise cornerstone, someone to build around when the rest of the team’s low-level top prospects matured to the majors. His at bats gave us a weird feeling we hadn’t felt in years – anticipation. We’re still anticipating with Franco, although now it’s an anticipation as to when he’ll be getting a change of scenery in 2018. HYPE METER: 6.5



  1. Jaron B

    September 1, 2017 at 10:28 am

    With Franco, I’m willing to give him one last year to figure it out. We have lots of guys who can play hot corner and Machao is not entering FA in 5 weeks. The best goal next year is to make them watchable: sign some pitchers and bench players. I don’t think a division crown or wild card is guaranteed, unless we’re more of a yr-round team (that’s up to the prospects continuing their success into early next yr), so you can afford one more year of hoping that Franco can find his swing again. I don’t think it will happen but there’s still little risk to the team – first yr arb, plenty of back-up at 3B.

  2. Rich

    September 1, 2017 at 10:53 am

    And how about that Marty Bystrom? He came up in Sept 1980 to a lot of hype, went 5-0 in September, and ended his career four years later as a .500 pitcher.

  3. Jon

    September 1, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Fun read. I remember when I was young getting excited about Ricky Jordan and Ron Jones. Did they not get any hype, or did they not get September call ups?

    • Ken Bland

      September 1, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      If you doubled the time length of 25 years, you could probably add several other names, but I don’t believe there’s ever been a more hyped Phillie prospect than Ted Savage. Very athletic outfielder who just never found his way as a big leaguer but managed to tour several parks as a home player. As of a few years ago, he was working for the Cardinals in a Community Relations position. Larry Hisle and Don Money come to mind as 2 hot Phillie prospects who eventually matured into good ballplayers, but elsewhere. As I remember history, all 3 were high up on the hype meter, roundabouts an 8, maybe 9.

  4. denzen

    September 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Mike Anderson, Roger Freed, Denny Doyle. Seems like they all were hyped more than the guys who went to win in 1980. (Not sure about the Roger freed timeline)

    • Ken Bland

      September 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Freed was acquired from the Orioles. He did have some credible MILB stats in the O’s system in 3 years, and was hyped upon acquisition. I don’t remember a great deal of hype about Doyle (you might be right, just because I don’t remember it doesn’t make me right). I do remember the expectations on him weren’t met, I just don’t recall it meeting the hype level. Anderson was a first round pick (6th), and was definitely hyped. His legacy was having a strong right arm. Never much of an offensive player.

      Kyle Drabek, Jesse Biddle, Larry Green and Michael Taylor come to mind as recent highly touted guys that didn’t live up to expectations. Taylor is a must on the list since he was mentioned in the same sentence as Dom Brown every time the hype machine spoke.

      • bruce

        September 2, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        Granted that Michael Taylor didn’t lived up to any hype that you may have read in the past. However, he is having a respectable and his best season for 2017 with Washington Nationals. Manager Dusty Baker has expressed his satisfaction with Taylor for his offense and outstanding defense (Center field). Baker is also grateful that they have him on the team for the coming post season playoffs. Taylor is currently hitting .264 in 92 games with 20 doubles, 12 HRs, 38 RBIs and 12 SBs.

        • Ken Bland

          September 2, 2017 at 6:12 pm

          That’s a different Michael Taylor, bruce. The one I was talking about is

          The Michael Taylor you are referring to is

          Back around 1920, the Phils had a pitcher Cliff Lee. Had he lived another 100 years, he could have had some serious bragging rights using another Cliff Lee’s achievements with the same name. If ex-Phil Taylor wants to live off the Nats Taylors pretty fair play, ain’t no baseball police gonna complain. But he IS a different cat.

        • Ken Bland

          September 2, 2017 at 6:26 pm

          I posted info revealing that you are talking about a different Michael Taylor that appears at least temporarily blocked.
          “awaiting moderation.” If it never makes it, baseballreference.com clarifies that the Nat is a different guy than the ex-Phil.

          • bruce

            September 2, 2017 at 10:11 pm

            Sorry. My mistake. I should have look further and check for career info on a site you mentioned (Baseballreference.com). How often one see identical name of two players and their age not far apart? (smile)

      • denzen

        September 4, 2017 at 4:53 am

        Not sure if Denny Doyle was hyped before he made the majors, but he came up with Bowa, and all the talk was about him as the leader in the infield. As I remember, he was the guy, and not much was thought of Bowa. I remember the Freed trade because “the O’s had a stacked outfield”. Early in his rookie year he made a play on a ball in right that was just barely over the fence, and just barely fair. He ran into foul ground, and jumped for the ball to fake out the umps, but only faked out the announcers. “That ball was at least 5 feet foul, but it being ruled a home run. I can’t understand it.” That may be his Philly highlight in my mind. haha

  5. bruce

    September 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    The writer gave his take on the overhyped players of the past. With that in mind, I’m not ready to go GA-GA on Hoskins like other Philly fans. I understand the current ultra-hype for Hoskins due to his outburst of HRs in the past few weeks (setting a few rookie records). I’m more prudent in my judgement with a rookie who has played less than a month in the big league. Keep in mind, every player in his first year has to go through a period of adjustments and be successful in doing so. You know the opposing pitchers will look for a hole in Hoskins’ swings and develop a book on him. if Hoskins show a weakness in not laying off a certain pitch (low, outside, off the plate), the word will get around the league. So, I’ll reserve my judgement on Hoskins for now and will wish him great success.

  6. bruce

    September 2, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I had a sickening feeling in watching Hoskins get hit on the wrist by an 100 M.P.H. fastball from a relief pitcher in the 7th inning of tonight’s game. He took a few steps forward and then kneel to the ground in obvious pain. After the trainer examined his wrist and Hoskins wanting to stay in the game, he was allowed to stay in the game. I could see him grimacing and waving his wrist while on 1st base. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s nothing more than a bruise. I think he should be out of the game and have his wrist iced and/or x-rayed. The game is meaningless to the Phillies (they are losing anyway as I typed this) when the health of a player is concerned.

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