HomeTeamsPhilliesPhillies Open Spring Training without Rhys Hoskins

Phillies Open Spring Training without Rhys Hoskins

When the Phillies full squad reports to Clearwater, Florida for spring training on February 19, one familiar face will be conspicuously absent. Veteran slugger, clubhouse leader, and fan favorite Rhys Hoskins is no longer a Phillie. Hoskins signed a two-year, $34 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on January 26th. He leaves the Philadelphia fans with the image of his biggest hit, the iconic three-run home run and bat slam off the Atlanta Braves’ Spencer Strider in the 2022 NLDS, gleefully burnt into their memories.

Hoskins’ departure from the Phillies seemed inevitable last March 23rd when he tore his ACL while fielding a ball in an exhibition game in Clearwater. Hoskins was about to begin his walk year and any chance that the Phillies or any other team would offer him a big money, long-term deal, vanished on the turf of BayCare Ballpark that day. His departure from the team went from inevitability to certainty when the Phillies announced that Bryce Harper, after appearing in 36 games at first base in 2023, had agreed to take over first base permanently for 2024.

In some ways the Phillies can look at this move as an upgrade. Harper is already a better defensive first baseman than Hoskins, and while Hoskins’ bat will be missed, Harper is one of the most potent offensive players in the league. Hoskins’ departure also allows the Phillies to use Kyle Schwarber exclusively as a DH, further improving their defense.

For the diehard Phillies fan, however, Hoskins will be missed. He was a homegrown player. He was one of the best first basemen in the club’s long history. He was a stand-up guy, always ready to talk to reporters and fans even when he or the team weren’t playing well. And he was a respected community member, who, with his wife Jayme, had helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for muscular dystrophy research and raise the spirits of children suffering from the disease.

Homegrown players are important to a franchise. Fans love to watch a player develop before their eyes, move through the farm system, and become a major contributor when they reach the big team. Hoskins, a fifth-round draft pick, rocketed through the minor leagues, and then exploded onto the Major League scene when he was called up August of 2017. He crushed 18 home runs in his first 34 games, the most ever for a rookie who made his debut after August 1st. Hoskins offered frustrated Phillies fans a bright ray of hope as another frustrating season ground to an end.

While Hoskins never repeated the smoking hot start to his career, in his five+ seasons in Philadelphia, he ranks as among the best first basemen in team history, falling somewhere between the Phillies all-time first baseman, Ryan Howard, and other standouts like John Kruk, Jim Thome, and the old-timer Fred Luderas, first sacker for the 1915 National League pennant winners. Hoskins 148 home runs are second only to Howard’s 382. And while Hoskins was a frustratingly streaky hitter who struck out often, he was also a patient hitter who could be relied upon to work a pitcher and to accrue 80+ walks a season.

Even more important, perhaps, than his offensive production, Hoskins proved to be a personable and articulate team spokesperson from the start. In his early years with the team, as the team struggled and managers came and went, Hoskins was a consistent upbeat voice in the clubhouse, taking the heat off his teammates by fielding the tough questions. Phillies fans can be a notably feisty and impatient group, but Hoskins handled them with aplomb, by giving an honest effort on the field, owning his mistakes, and telling the truth.

With Hoskins gone, Aaron Nola, Bryson Stott, and Alec Bohm must carry the mantel for the homegrown players. None of them, as of yet, have shown Hoskins’ way with the media or the fans. Last year, with Hoskins on the shelf for the entire season, Schwarber took on the role of clubhouse spokesman. But Schwarber, as good as he is as a communicator, is not a homegrown player and is not likely to be around too much longer. In Hoskins absence, one of the homegrown players will need to step up.

For his part, Hoskins may well miss the Philadelphia fans as much as they will miss him. As he told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, “I’m sure it won’t be the last time I see a lot of those same people. I hope not, just because I feel like I’ll always be able to call Philly home.”

In June, when Hoskins returns to Citizen’s Bank Park with his Milwaukee Brewer team, the fans are sure to turn out to show their appreciation. Hoskins has won the hearts of the Phillies fans, which is no easy feat. He’ll be welcomed wholeheartedly, at least until he beats the home team with a late inning blast.


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