Eric Hosmer checks in at #7 on the 2010 Kings of Kauffman prospect list.
Who: Eric John Hosmer
DOB: 10/24/1989 Cooper City, Florida
Weight: 215 lbs
Acquired: 2008 Draft (1st Round)
~ Baseball America #5
~ Diamond Futures #8
~ Royals Review #3
~ The Royal Tower #6
~ John Sickels B-
~ Baseball Prospectus #8
~ Scouting Book #4
|Idaho Falls (Rk)
So far in his professional career, Eric Hosmer has failed to live up to expectations, but there have been a number of extenuating circumstances in play from day one. His 2008 debut was cut short as Eric and the Royals got caught up in the post signing deadline contract dispute between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pedro Alvarez. Thanks to those shenanigans Hosmer played in only 3 games and 15 plate appearances, but the very limited sample size was encouraging.
Heading into 2009, Baseball America ranked Hosmer as the Royals #2 prospect. Jim Callis (12), Will Lingo (26), and John Manuel (34) all had him squarely in their personal top 50 and for good reason. Hosmer was considered the top HS bat available in the 2008 draft with elite power potential and a smooth pure swing that suggested he would hit for average as well. On the defensive side of things his skillset included a plus arm, soft hands, and just enough speed that a career as a corner outfielder wasn’t out of the question.
Then the season began and reality hit. His progress was hampered from the start by astigmatism that developed during the offseason. Then his development was dealt another blow when he fractured a knuckle just a few months into the season. Despite the vision problems he showed good plate discipline for a 19-year old and was on his way to having a unspectacular but solid season. With all this going on, the Royals inexplicably promoted Hosmer to Wilmington. It would have been an overly aggressive move even if his eyesight was perfect and his hand had been fracture-free all season. The results of his promotion were disastrous as he struggled to find a comfort zone. After trying contacts and glasses without success, Hosmer elected to undergo eye surgery in August to correct his vision problem. Most fans and scouts have given Eric a mulligan due to the circumstances in play during last year, but there is no doubt that his stock is down. A select few ignorantly consider him a bust already. Diamond Futures does their best to steer people away from this belief in their January write-up of the Royals prospects which included the following:
"Tabbed by many as the top prep hitter available in the 2008 draft, his 2009 season has to be considered a huge disappointment. We urge caution in his assessment though, as he, like Moustakas, is a victim of an over aggressive promotion approach by Royal management. Hosmer played the entire 2009 season as a 19yo, and still posted a Top 20 Performance score in the MWL."
No matter how you slice it or how much stock you put into each of the potential reasons behind his struggles, last season was a disappointment. The good news is that 2010 is a new season. A season that Hosmer entered into healthy, with corrected vision, and ready to reestablish himself as an elite prospect with tremendous upside. It’s still early, but he is well on his way to doing just that. In 7 games Hosmer has been destroying Carolina League pitching to the tune of 0.423/.500/.615 while drawing as many walks as strikeouts (4 of each). He has hit safely in all 7 games and has hit lefties reasonably well which is very encouraging to see out of a 20-year old lefty hitter.
Fairness in conversation, I like Eric Hosmer. I think he has a huge future in the majors, and it’s not just because he is a part of the Royals organization. Honestly, I feel a little guilty ranking him at #7 and a large part of me wants to bump him up on this list. While I have written off his 2009 season as a case of injury, bad eyesight, and a poorly-timed promotion to Wilmington, it still happened. It’s still on his record and it should not be entirely ignored, just evaluated in context. The other factor that plays into his ranking is the quality and potential of the six players I’ve ranked ahead of him.
When an impact bat with his potential is legitimately ranked 7th some good things are going on in the farm system. If all goes well, Hosmer and the rest of the organization’s top prospects will keep us from focusing on the warts and blemishes that still exist on the major league roster.
Before you go, here is a short video of Hosmer that I found on YouTube from March.
(Wally Fish is the lead writer for Kings of Kauffman, Call to the Pen and is also FanSided’s MLB Director. You can keep up to date with all of his work by following him on Facebook, Twitter or by way of the Kings of Kauffman RSS feed.)