Who: Eric John Hosmer
DOB: 10/24/1989, Cooper City, Florida
Weight: 215 lb
Acquired: 2008 Draft – 1st round, #3 overall
~ Baseball America: #1
~ Royals Review #2
~ Kevin Goldstein: #3
~ John Sickels: #2 A
~ Royals Prospects: #1
~ 2010 Kings of Kauffman Rankings: #7
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||482||57||135||31||8||8||61||53||61||.320||.396||.488||.884|
|A (1 season)||A||327||31||71||17||2||5||49||44||68||.254||.352||.382||.734|
|AA (1 season)||AA||211||39||61||14||3||13||35||15||27||.313||.365||.615||.980|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||15||2||4||2||0||0||2||3||2||.364||.533||.545||1.079|
When the Royals drafted Eric Hosmer and signed him to a team record $6 million bonus in 2008, they expected a little more than what they got out of his first full pro season.
After a very brief stop in rookie ball, where Hosmer only got three games because of the Pedro Alvarez mess, his 2009 went about as poorly as it could, with the exception of any long-term injuries. Hosmer made the jump to Low A essentially right out of high school and wasn’t a disaster, but a curious midseason promotion to High A put a blemish on his numbers.
More than the competition, though, Hosmer was up against two significant setbacks – a knuckle injury that sapped his swing and a diagnosis of astigmatism. While the Royals opted for LASIK surgery over the Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn hornrims, the corrective surgery seemed to help.
I say seemed because Hosmer came out on fire, posting an awesome .354/.429/.545 line at Wilmington. His only question mark was power. In batting practice, Hosmer is notable for some moonshots, but it hadn’t translated to games in the Carolina League. Half a season in Frawley Stadium will do that – Mike Moustakas had run into the same issue.
Once he reached the Texas League, though, the power scouts had raved about started to show up. He capped off his power surge with a heroic showing in the Texas League Playoffs, where Hosmer hit five homers in the first four games against Springfield in the semifinals, then hit another in Game 3 of the Texas League Finals against Midland.
After leading the Naturals to a championship, he led Team USA in hitting in the Pan Am Games while being named the tournament’s best first baseman. This was after going 4-5 in the All-Star Futures game in July. He finished off a busy year by finishing the year in the Arizona Fall League, where, despite a .203/.284/.291/.575 line, he drove in 14 runs in 19 games. By that point, he may have made 800+ plate appearances, so we’ll overlook a bad month.
Scouting reports before the 2008 draft raved about his approach and upside. Hosmer’s a guy who will work all parts of the field, and Baseball America, who named him their top Royals prospect, suggested that the Royals may ask him to be MORE pull-conscious to take advantage of that power.
Hosmer is the prototypical #3 hitter. Baseball America rates his bat a 70 on the 20-80 scale and rates his power at 65. He’s so good with the bat that last week in spring training, Bob Fescoe tweeted that he hit a homer to right field, center field and left field on consecutive pitches. On command. On Thursday in an intrasquad game, he hit a homer off star prospect Chris Dwyer (a lefty) that went deep to center, just to the left of the batter’s eye.
On top of being an excellent hitter, Hosmer’s a great fielder as well. He was awarded the Frank White Award as the organization’s top fielder at FanFest in January. He shows good range and agility and can pick pretty well too. If it comes to hit, he used to hit 97 mph as a pitcher in high school, so he has the arm to make throws if necessary on the infield. There had been some talk that he might move to the outfield some day, but that’s probably not going to happen unless Kila Ka’aihue and Billy Butler make their bats indispensable (mostly Kila). With Wil Myers on the fast track to the big leagues and Brett Eibner full of potential, there’s not really a spot for Hosmer out there unless the Royals really need to get creative.
The only skill Hosmer doesn’t have is speed. He’s a big guy and may add a bit of muscle yet. He stole 11 bases at Wilmington, but only 3 in Northwest Arkansas in 2010. He might have the athleticism to steal five a year or maybe even ten if he gets a chance, but it’s not a tool and he won’t be expected to steal at all.
My hunch before spring training was that the Royals would follow a similar pattern to last season. After both he and Moustakas had torn it up in the first half, they earned promotions within days of each other. I figured with a probable Moose call up in June this year, Hosmer would move up to Omaha shortly after.
It may be faster than that, even.
Ned Yost has commented recently that Hosmer may be “in the conversation” for a big league callup mid-summer. The prospect of that move would suggest that the Royals see him starting in Triple A. The more I think about it, the better that sounds. He’s proven everything he can in Double A and three more months there won’t really show much more. If he can start in Triple A and he hits, great – he might be a midseason callup. If he doesn’t right away, you’re a couple months ahead and can see how he adjusts during a full year in Omaha. There’s not much downside.
Even better, Hosmer seems to have the mindset and attitude that you want out of a player making such a rapid rise through the system. He’s confident, but not boastful. He’s a team-first guy. He’s already weathered a season of poor results and rebounded. He seems as can’t miss a prospect as you can find in the minors right now.
What’s his floor? In the big leagues, worst cast, he’s a high-contact (15.2% strikeout rate), patient (11.1% walkrate) hitter with good doubles power and double digit homer potential. Best case, he could be an MVP candidate.
With his sweet swing from the left side and ability to drive the ball to the opposite field, we could be looking at a Joe Mauer-type offensive profile. As consistently as he squares the ball up, he could hit for a very high average.
Yeah, I could live with that.
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