The Philadelphia Phillies were dealt a devastating blow just a week away from the start of the MLB regular season. The defending National League champions announced on Thursday that first baseman Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL after suffering a non-contact injury while fielding a grounder in a spring training game against the Detroit Tigers.
The 30-year-old slugger’s 2023 season is over before it starts, and the Phillies are left to pick up the pieces. Philadelphia doesn’t have an obvious in-house replacement for Hoskins, who hit 30 home runs last season. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski indicated that Darrick Hall will get the majority of playing time at first base going forward, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Alex Coffey.
The 27-year-old Hall made his major league debut last season, filling in for an injured Bryce Harper as Philadelphia’s designated hitter. In 142 plate appearances in 2022, Hall slashed .250/.282/.522 with nine home runs and 16 RBIs. With Harper sidelined and several Phillies participating in the World Baseball Classic, Hall has taken his opportunity and run with it this spring. While it’s a small sample size, Hall is hitting .319/.385/.681 with five home runs in Grapefruit League games.
“He’s just become a better player,” Dombrowski said of Hall, via Coffey. “He’s always had power, that speaks for itself, but he’s continued to work hard, he’s continued to close his holes at the plate. When he came up to the big-league level, he did very well for us. And to show what type of guy — all winter long he went to Arizona and was working with [hitting coach] Kevin Long.”
“Kevin kept telling me, ‘Dave, he’s getting better and better all of the time. Just watch — he’s closing his holes. He looks really good.’ So, he’s done that for himself. He’s really a good, solid first baseman. He’s a big guy, but he catches the ball. He’s got a good arm — as you know, he used to be a pitcher in college. So, he’s really done a lot for himself. He’s also a well-respected person in our organization. And in the clubhouse.”
According to Coffey, Dombrowski said that the Phillies have not yet decided on a potential platoon at first base, being that Hall doesn’t have great career numbers against left-handed pitching. In any event, Hall appears to be the most logical option to see a lion’s share of playing time at first, unless a couple of veterans manage to shake loose during final roster cuts over the next week or so.