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Phillies field coordinator excited with first impressions of Cozens
July 17, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
Over the last four summers Mike Compton has become one of my favorite people to be around. The man knows baseball, having been involved in the professional game ever since signing with the Phillies in 1965.
He’s a great baseball man. Even more so, he’s a better man. He’s someone who enjoys just being around the game. When I first met him in the summer of 2009, he had a smile on his face and was always more interested in asking about how I was doing than talking about baseball.
I remember distinctly one day asking him why he’s stayed in the game for so long.
“In what other business do they let an old guy like me hang out with a bunch of young guys like this,” he said while we watched batting practice at Williamsport’s Bowman Field.
Compton, who is now the Phillies’ Minor League Field Coordinator, and I have never made a point to really sit and talk about individual players in the Phillies’ system. We just enjoy talking baseball in general.
But maybe no other player in the Phillies’ system has been as much a mystery or as intriguing as Dylan Cozens. When Compton was in Williamsport during the first week of the Crosscutters’ season, I made a point to ask him one day if he had been to Clearwater yet to see Cozens, the hulking outfielder who was selected in the second round. He hadn’t yet, but said he was on his way to Clearwater following his week in Williamsport.
So when Compton returned to Williamsport on Sunday, I knew there was only one question I wanted to ask from him. I found him in the coaches’ locker room following Monday’s series finale against Vermont, we shared our pleasantries and I asked what he thought of Cozens.
His face absolutely lit up. It lit up in a way I’ve never seen his face light up before. Without saying a word Mike said everything he needed to in order to answer my question about the potential that lies within an 18-year outfielder who has gotten off to a hot start with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.
Compton told me how he was just amazed by Cozens’ physique, saying he was chiseled in a way he hadn’t seen since he was playing for the Phillies’ Class AAA team in Eugene, Ore., in the late 60s. He told a story about how when he was playing in Eugene there was a college kid who was a clubhouse attendant who was built much like Cozens is now, with a chiseled frame about 6-feet, 5-inches tall. At the time the kid held the junior national record in the javelin.
The kid ended up being Russ Francis, a three-time NFL Pro Bowl tight end with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers.
Compton hadn’t even really talked about Cozens as a baseball player, yet, and he was acting like a kid in a candy store. And then he talked about the home run he saw Cozens hit.
It was a typical Florida day at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, the wind gusting and swirling all around. At the time Cozens came to bat on Richie Ashburn Field, he said the wind was gusting in from left-center field.
Cozens, who had a scholarship to play defensive end at Arizona after just one year of high school football, drove a baseball through that wind, out of the ballpark. Compton said he hit it so far it almost ended up in Bright House Field.
In more than 50 years of baseball, Compton said he never saw anything like it before. The smile on Compton’s face just grew wider and wider as he told the story. He saw something special in Cozens in one swing.
So all the excitement that’s been building around Cozens’ great start in the Gulf Coast League appears to be warranted. Obviously, there’s a long way to go before we see just what Cozens will become as a prospect. But it’s safe to say, there’s going to be reasons to keep an eye on him.
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