Each day during the balance of 2020 as part of my celebration of 50 years following the Philadelphia Phillies, I’ll recall a mostly obscure and in many cases completely forgotten player who appeared with the ball club between 1971-2020.
This micro-bio series publishes each morning and will include basic background info on the player, their statistical performance with the Phillies during the specific season highlighted, and a snap-shot of the rest of their big-league career.
For each year, I choose one random position player and one pitcher, giving each their own remembrance in separate articles on different days. Over the first three days we looked at 2019’s most random pitcher, Yacksel Rios and position player, Mitch Walding, and the 2018 most random pitcher, Drew Anderson .
As we continue to work our way backwards in time, today we move on to the position player with the combination of having made little impact on the 2018 Phillies and who is likely to have the least impactful big-league career.
Dylan Cozens appearing in this series may be a tough choice for some Phillies fans to swallow, those who became enthralled with his minor league power-speed numbers. But he fits the definition what the series represents perfectly. Had little impact on the 2018 team and, at least to this stage of his career, appears to have little chance at making an impact at the big-league level.
Cozens was the second round selection of the Phillies back in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of Chaparral High School in his native Scottsdale, Arizona. He ended up at Chaparral after transferring from his original school, Desert Mountain High School. That transfer came as a result of an ugly incident.
“He wasn’t rated highly because he’s not that good. Shoved his coach and told him to “f off” in the dugout during a game, so he was kicked off the team – the culmination of a series of incidents that turned many scouts off him, one even calling him a “bully.” (Just what you want on your GCL team around a handful of 16-year-old Latin American kids.) And he’s a big power-before-hit guy who put on 50-60 pounds in a single summer. Amaro is pumping up his draft pick, which is his job, but he’s giving you half the story.”
Cozens would work his way through each level of the Phillies minor league system over the next four years. He also made stops in the Australian Baseball League and Puerto Rican Winter League along the way.
In 2016 at Double- Reading, Cozens broke out in a huge way. After producing 38 total home run over his first four minor league campaigns he blasted 40 homers while playing his home games at the hitter’s paradise that is FirstEnergy Stadium. Cozens also swiped 21 bags that year, giving him 83 stolen bases over his first five minor league seasons.
Cozens teamed up in 2016 with current Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who blasted 38 long balls of his own. Together that summer they formed a modern “bash brothers” combo with the Fightin’ Phils.
“It’s definitely something special,” said the then 23-year-old Hoskins per Ryan Lawrence at The Philly Voice. “It’s a year that both of us will remember. Hopefully, we go on and have long and successful major league careers, but as far as getting there and the journey to get there, this is a year we’ll definitely remember. And if (the record) happens, it’d just be icing on the cake.”
That record was the Reading franchise mark of 38 home runs drilled by Darin Ruf back in the 2012 season. In the end, Hoskins would tie it, but it would be Cozens who would set the new milestone at which future sluggers will take aim.
As for the two having long and successful major league careers, that remains a question, especially for Cozens. He would produce 56 home runs over the last three minor league seasons combined, but has been unable to land a steady big-league role.
The biggest problem for the left-handed hitter has been strikeouts. He whiffed 380 times over the 2016-17 seasons combined, then 124 more in the minors during the 2018 campaign.
Cozens would finally receive his first shot at playing in ‘The Show’ with the Phillies. On June 1, 2018, manager Gabe Kapler inserted Cozens into the starting lineup at AT&T Park against the host San Francisco Giants.
That night, Cozens went 1-3 and struck out twice as the Phillies were shutout 4-0 by Giants’ starter Chris Stratton and three relievers. He also enjoyed his first big-league base hit in his first plate appearance.
With one out in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Cozens grounded a single to right field off Stratton to get that milestone out of the way.
Another would come on June 6, 2018 at Wrigley Field when Cozens drilled his first big-league home run off Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. That two-run blast in the top of the 9th inning scored Aaron Altherr ahead of him and temporarily made him the hero, giving the Phillies a 5-3 lead. Unfortunately the bullpen would blow it in the bottom of the frame and the club would drop a 7-5 decision.
Cozens would stay with the Phillies through the MLB All-Star break in 2018 before returning to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He would return for a two-game stint in early August and then received another promotion when rosters were expanded in September.
Overall, Cozens slashed just .158/.273/.289 over 44 plate appearances across 26 games during his time with the Phillies in the 2018 season. He produced six hits, one homer, two doubles, two RBIs, one stolen base, and two runs scored.
Cozens appeared in just one game with the Phillies last year before he was lost for the season after undergoing foot surgery in late May. He was designated for assignment on July 31, given his release from the organization in early August, and signed a week later with the Tampa Bay Rays.
A non-roster invite to spring training this year with the Rays, the now 27-year-old Cozens appeared in a dozen Grapefruit League games prior to the pandemic shutdown. He slashed just .150/.292/.200 over 24 plate appearances during that time and appeared to have little chance of making the big-league roster had the season opened. The chances of Cozens ever becoming more than a stopgap big-league option appear to be shrinking.
The most random Phillies pitcher from the 2017 season will be featured on Tuesday. Check back for that next installment in this year-long series. You can view each of them at any time from the History section under the “Phillies 50: 1971-2020” page of our website toolbar.