Former Phillies/Rays farmhand and current Brewers minor leaguer Dylan Cozens announced on Twitter today that he plans step away from baseball in order to pursue a career in professional football. Cozens thanked the three organizations in which he’s played for all of the opportunities afforded to him since being selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2012 draft but says he’ll now opt to chase another dream: playing in the National Football League.
Cozens, 27, was a defensive end and two-sport star in high school. His father, Randy, was drafted by the Denver Broncos back in 1976. Listed at a hulking 6’6″ and 245 pounds presently, it should come as little surprise that a player with Cozens’ size and athleticism had a scholarship offer to play football at the University of Arizona before opting to sign with the Phillies back in 2012.
For several years after that second-round selection, Cozens ranked as one of the Phillies’ highest-ceiling prospects — but one with a good bit of risk. He garnered praise for his immense power, which he displayed with a 40-homer showing in 134 games of Double-A ball in 2016, but Cozens also came to pro ball with somewhat limited baseball experience and a notable penchant for swinging and missing. Cozens struck out in 31.7 percent of his plate appearances in Double-A that year and saw that rate spike to 35.7 percent over the next two seasons in Triple-A.
Cozens received a pair of brief calls to the Majors in 2018-19 but only tallied 45 plate appearances. His 2019 campaign was ultimately cut short when he required surgery to remove bone spurs and repair cartilage in his left foot. The Phillies released Cozens after that surgery — injured players cannot be outrighted, and the team needed a roster spot — and he opted to sign a two-year minor league deal with the Rays in Aug. 2019 rather than return to the Phils. The idea was that he’d finish up his rehab with the Rays in ’19 and play in their system in 2020, though last year’s minor league season obviously didn’t take place.
Cozens inked a minor league deal with the Brewers back in December and has appeared in 31 games this year, batting .177/.343/.329 with two homers, four doubles, a triple and four stolen bases in 100 plate appearances. The steals may surprise some, but despite his size, Cozens has swiped 110 bags in 145 tries as a minor leaguer — a testament to his athleticism.
Cozens will have a long road to walk if he ultimately realizes his dream of reaching the top level in a second major sports league, but he’s young enough that it’s certainly not implausible. Despite having played in parts of nine minor league seasons, Cozens only celebrated his 27th birthday on May 31. Best of luck to him in the next phase of his career.