Rhys Hoskins and Tommy Joseph are two righthanded-hitting first basemen, a fact that one month ago led Phillies manager Pete Mackanin to opine they could not coexist on the same team. Mackanin might be right about the long-term situation. But the Phillies have an idea for a temporary solution.
Hoskins will play left field Monday night for the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. It will be his 453rd career game in the minors and the first time he mans a position that is not first base. The last time he played in the outfield was in 2012 as a freshman at Sacramento State. He is still viewed by team officials as a first baseman, perhaps the starter there in 2018.
But this is a way — with Aaron Altherr on the disabled list — to fill a current outfield hole in the majors and reward Hoskins for his minor-league production. If the left-field experiment is not a disaster, the power-hitting prospect could be in the majors within a few days.
Hoskins has 27 homers, an IronPigs franchise record. He has maintained the power from his breakout 2016 season at double-A Reading. He is reaching base at an even higher clip than last season. He is 24 years old, and he's done all that can be done in the minors.
But Joseph has held onto his starting job. The Phillies attempted to trade him last month but found a tepid market for his services. They could commit to Hoskins this winter and relegate Joseph to the bench or find a new home for him. For now, it appears they will attempt to jam both players in the lineup.
The decision to try Hoskins in left field is somewhat surprising, given how dismissive Phillies general manager Matt Klentak was about the idea a month ago. Klentak said the team had "certainly explored" moving Hoskins or Joseph to left. But he stressed the balance required between offense and defense.
"We haven't tried that, so you wouldn't know until you tried it," Klentak said on July 8. "But there's a reason both of them are playing first base right now."