Former Phillies player quits baseball to chase NFL dream

SCOTT LAUBER
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Dylan Cozens (67) catches a fly ball during a spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Before the Phillies drafted Dylan Cozens in 2012, and before the June night in Chicago six years later when he blasted his only major league home run, there was the opportunity to play football.

At long last, he is going to give it a try.

Cozens, a former Phillies prospect who began the season with the Milwaukee Brewers' triple-A club in Nashville, Tenn., announced Tuesday on social media that he's stepping away from baseball "to chase my dream of playing in the NFL." The 27-year-old outfielder played in 27 major league games, all with the Phillies, and batted .154 with two doubles, one homer, two RBIs, a .549 OPS, and 24 strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.,

Cozens was a defensive end as a senior at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Ariz., and got recruited by several colleges before signing to play at the University of Arizona. But after being drafted by the Phillies in the second round, he signed for $659,800, and ditched football.

In the early days of the Phillies' rebuilding effort, Cozens and Rhys Hoskins were pegged as future middle-of-the-order pieces. Then-general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who congratulated Cozens on Twitter, labeled his power "extraordinary." Cozens backed up that characterization by hitting 38 doubles and 40 homers and slugging .591 while batting .276 in 134 games at double-A Reading in 2016.

After struggling in triple A, Cozens was called up by the Phillies midway through the 2018 season. He went 6-for-38 (.158) with 24 strikeouts in 44 plate appearances. Cozens played one game for the Phillies in 2019 and was released in August of that season.

Cozens spent the rest of the 2019 season in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He didn't play in 2020, and this year batted .177 with two homers, a .673 OPS, and 43 strikeouts in 100 plate appearances for Nashville.