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Update on Alfaro, Joseph, Cozens and others in winter leagues

J Alfaro 4While the main club is sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the offseason, some of the Phillies’ prized young guns are still playing baseball games. With the minor league seasons ending in late August and early September, some prospects are making up for the lost month by playing in various fall and winter leagues. The typical goal:  to hone in on the deficiencies that plagued them during the regular season.

Let’s go through some of the notable Phillies still lacin’ them up in winter ball.

Jorge Alfaro

Alfaro is spending his time in Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional. The 6’2” catcher has picked up right where he left off from Reading with .281/.333/.531 in 17 games. Alfaro has 18 hits, three for home runs, plus five doubles and a triple. Alfaro’s status as a Phillie for next season remains up in the air. It’s most likely Alfaro starts the season in Lehigh Valley to get more time behind the dish, but he’s certainly pleading his case in Venezuela. His fate will most likely come down to his performance in Spring Training.

Dylan Cozens

Cozens etched his name in Phillies minor league history this past season by blasting 40 home runs and 125 RBI for the Reading Fightin’ Phils, both club records. Cozens took the history books with him to the Dominican Republic this fall, playing in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano. The left-handed slugger has had a rough go of it to say the least, hitting .165/.268/.353 with just a “modest” four home runs and 10 RBI. One thing Cozens needed to work on this fall was cutting down his strikeouts, but he’s had difficulty, striking out 32 times in 25 games. Although the outfielder provides serious pop, he’ll have to clean some things up before the Phils come calling.

Rhys Hoskins

Fellow bash brother Rhys Hoskins has joined Cozens in the Dominican but is playing on a different club. Hoskins, who deposited 38 home runs and drove in 116 in Reading, didn’t bring his hitting shoes to the Dominican either, but is still faring better than Cozens. He’s at .224/.318/.408 with four home runs and 16 RBI. Hoskins also strikes out at a good clip, but far less than Cozens. The first baseman will likely be in triple-A to start 2017.

Scott Kingery

A rising infield prospect, Kingery played in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .234/294/.312 with just four extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts. The righty hitter emerged as a hot prospect for the Phils after hitting .293 for single-A Clearwater and .250 for Reading, all with good speed and fielding ability, in 2016. He’ll likely stay put in Reading to start 2017.

Andrew Knapp

Knapp is a teammate of Cozens in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano. The catching prospect is hitting a so-so .244/.306/.356 in 15 games with just one home run and five RBIs. The switch hitter is often an afterthought due to the emergence Alfaro, so his fate for 2017 is unclear. He could find himself on the 25-man roster as a backup to Cameron Rupp, but it’s more likely he remains in Lehigh Valley and works more on being an all-around hitter.

Jesmuel Valentin

Valentin is the lone Phillie on this list playing in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente. The switch hitter is at .284/.380/.343, adding four doubles, 10 RBI, 11 walks, and just two strikeouts in 18 games. That is exactly what the Phils are looking for out of Valentin, and if his game translates to spring training, the Phils will have to think about bringing him to Cincinnati for the opener.

There are two current big leaguers also working on their craft in the winter leagues.

Tommy Joseph

Joseph is playing in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, getting in only five games with a .150 average. After belting 21 home runs in pinstripes last season, as of now, Joseph seems to be a lock for first base in 2017.

Alec Asher

Asher has made eight starts in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, and is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA. In 42 innings, the 25-year-old has struck out 27 and surrendered just five walks – good for a 0.76 WHIP. Opponents are hitting just .180 off Asher. After Asher’s strong 2.28 ERA showing in five September starts last season, he is certainly in play to be in the rotation for 2017.

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