CLEARWATER, FL — The rest of Major League Baseball teams may have been overly judgmental, but the Philadelphia Phillies refused to follow suit.
In the 2012 MLB draft, Philadelphia selected right-fielder Dylan Cozens with the 77th overall pick (third round), surprising many.
The 18-year-old standout has a somewhat checkered past — depending on who you speak to — but couldn’t be more appreciative for the opportunity with the Phillies.
“A lot of teams wouldn’t even talk to me because of what happened, or what they heard, or what they assumed. Maybe? I don’t really know”, said the 6’6 Cozens. “But there are a couple of organizations — the ones that are playing good baseball now — that actually took the time to come and look at me.”
The incident in question took place during a high-school baseball game in which Cozens used profanity at his coach during a heated in-game exchange, ultimately labelling him a disciplinary liability.
After a brief one-on-one in the Phillies’ spring training complex, it becomes instantly evident that much of what has been said and printed about the Arizona native may have been exaggerated.
Cozens showed great poise and maturity for a teenager while fielding questions, and was more than eager to clear up the incident that eventually landed him Philadelphia.
“A kid on my team was being disrespectful, and we kind of got into it. Then the coach came to break it up, and when he did he yanked me to the ground, then yanked me back up,” said Cozens.
“I didn’t know what was going on so I got heated and said, ‘get off me’ and was I pissed off, so later in the game I apologized and asked to be put back in because it was a big game and he was cool with everything, saying ‘yeah I’m fine with it,’ so everything seemed cool.”
Banned for rest of season
Two days later, Cozens was notified by his coaches that he had been suspended for the remainder of the season, which was the reason behind a mid-season transfer from Desert Mountain high school to Chaparall.
The cloud of negativity that developed over Cozens didn’t just affect his reputation as an individual, but also his draft position.
Cozens definitely believes he should’ve gone higher had it not been for the aforementioned incident.
“I would’ve gotten scouted a lot more and this whole thing would’ve gone down a lot different if this didn’t happen,” said the highly-touted prospect, according to Baseball America. “Nobody would talk to me or even give me the time of day, and I think I could’ve gone a lot higher.”
This seemed to have been a safe assumption since the towering right-fielder is a five-tool talent that impressed in his Class-A debut for the Reading Fightin Phils. Cozens hit .255, swiped eight bags, and led the team in RBI (24), runs (24) and walks (21).
Despite what happened at Desert Mountain, and the subsequent stigma that was levied on Cozens, the minor leaguer is matured, respectful and eager to reach the big league club and tap into his potential.