I’m not tired of stating that the Royals have the best minor league system in baseball – perhaps one of the best ever. It just doesn’t get old.
I got to thinking during the drive to and from my parents’ over the holiday weekend about which prospects I’m most excited to see in the majors. Generally, I’m a fan of pitchers. Don’t know why, I just am. I think it goes back to my days as a kid when I’d be in rec leagues and always wanted to pitch. When the opportunity finally came one day, the first strikeout I threw was unlike any other sports moment I’d participated in. Even before that, though, I really liked Jeff Montgomery and Kevin Appier (and even adopted Appier’s delivery for myself – note to any young kids out there, don’t try it, I have no idea how he did so well with that herky-jerky motion).
The Royals system is loaded with pitchers with major league expectations. Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer, for starters. That’s not mentioning the solid relief arms like Louis Coleman and Tim Collins, plus Aaron Crow, Everett Teaford and players far down the pipe like Crawford Simmons are all pitchers we should see in Kansas City over the coming years.
Don’t get me wrong, I like that group, but my favorite Royals prospect isn’t a pitcher.
It’s first baseman, Eric Hosmer.
I know, I went out on a limb on that one. But hey, I don’t see a reason why I need to be sneaky in my selection. There’s no need to deceive anybody or be clever. Hosmer’s the guy I want to see in Kauffman Stadium more than any other prospect.
When I first started to get into baseball, I mean REALLY get into baseball in that game-on-TV-every-day-of-the-week sense, it was 1989. My favorite player was George Brett, and at that point, Kevin Seitzer had moved him over to first base. For a couple of years, I hadn’t even realized Brett was a third baseman at all. With Brett as my favorite player, it seems natural that I also generally favor first basemen as players for some reason or another. There’s a prototype and Brett, for the most part, fit the mold.
So does Hosmer.
From the left-handed swing, to the doubles power, to the ability to make contact and hit to all fields, not to mention his second half power surge that carried Double A Northwest Arkansas to the Texas League Championship, Hosmer looks like the classic first baseman with his skill set (which is convenient considering that that’s where he plays).
But in baseball, like in many other fields, it takes more than mere talent to succeed. It takes drive, determination, confidence. If you haven’t read it yet, Greg Schaum at RoyalsProspects.com had a short Q&A with Hosmer that shows me that not only can this kid hit, he’s got the mindset that you want to see in a clubhouse.
The whole thing is great, but a couple answers stand out. Hosmer played with and against some of today’s top prospects coming up through high school and in one case was given the option to stay in New Mexico with the Midland Redskins to play the Connie Mack World Series championship game or go to San Diego for the Aflac All-American game. He chose to stay with the team. (He still ended up able to get to San Diego in time to play the AA game, too.)
Hosmer also got a chance to see Mike Moustakas‘s leadership skills in action. Moose had been through everything Hosmer had as a first-year professional and took him under his wing during instructional leagues. It seems like the two have a strong bond as teammates and that can be nothing but beneficial as they both start to get to Kansas City.
The sense I got from Hosmer’s responses is that he knows his abilities and knows there is work to be done to keep them honed and he doesn’t seem afraid of the effort necessary to stay on top.
Moustakas is likely to make a debut sometime in 2011, possibly even early in the year, and his arrival will be exciting to watch. Once Wil Myers makes it up, he might be the best overall hitter of the bunch. And still, Hosmer’s the guy I can’t wait to see reach the majors.
Of course, it’s going to be pretty fun to see the others come up, too.