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Phillies prospect cashes in at winter meetings

OXON HILL, Md. - Dylan Cozens left the winter meetings on Monday afternoon with an $8,000 check tucked in his right pocket, almost doubling the amount of money the Phillies prospect earned last season.

Cozens was honored at an afternoon banquet with the Joe Bauman Award for leading all of minor-league baseball last season in home runs. He received $200 for each of the 40 homers he hit with double-A Reading.

Cozens joked during the luncheon that he made more Monday than he did all of last season. The rightfielder earned roughly $1,700 per month last season. Minor-league players are only paid during their five-month season, which means Cozens made roughly $8,500 last season. (He received a $659,000 signed bonus after he was drafted in 2012.)

"I don't know if it's true - it's a joke. Not to be taken too seriously," Cozens said. "But, yeah, $8,000 will make shopping this holiday season a lot easier."

Cozens returned last month from a 25-game stint in the Dominican Winter League. The 22-year-old struggled there, as he batted just .165 and got in a fight with a teammate. Cozens (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) punched Boog Powell of Seattle during batting practice after Powell (5-10, 185) mocked Cozens for not being able to hit breaking pitches.

"Just a little boys-being-boys type thing," Cozens said. "I feel like it was blown out of proportion, like almost everything is these days. But after it happened, we became good friends. It was more the level of respect there and I'd say we're still friends, so it's good."

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said "there is no concern" about Cozens after the incident. Cozens slipped to the second round of the 2012 draft after an altercation with a high school baseball coach.

"Dylan is an intense kid and he plays the game really hard. That is a good thing," Klentak said. "If you've watched that, you can see that in his at-bats and when he runs the bases and is running around in the outfield. That's just his style of play. That aggressive nature at times can boil over. You hope that it doesn't boil over in altercations with teammates. But we have no long-term concerns with that at all."

Cozens, who struck out 186 times last season, whiffed 32 times in 85 Dominican at-bats. He did hit four homers, each against lefthanded pitching. It was a good sign for the lefthanded hitter after just five of last season's 40 homers came again lefties. He also walked 12 times in 25 games.

"I'm learning how to take my walks more often, having better strike-zone judgment, maybe not chase after as many pitches," Cozens said. "Be aggressive, but if they don't want to pitch to me, just take a walk. I feel like I did not so good of a job of that, but it's something I can improve on next year."

Cozens will return to Clearwater, Fla., in two months for his first major-league spring training. He was added last month to the 40-man roster, which means he will earn more than $1,700 per month this season. And he also will likely start the season in triple A, just one step from the majors and an even bigger payday.

"I just go into camp looking to keep getting better," Cozens said. "Obviously, I want to be there as soon as possible, but it's not my call. I'm just going to go out there and get better, turn some heads, make some people notice, and hopefully get called up as soon as possible."