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In a stunning move, the Kansas City Royals announced yesterday they were promoting blue-chip first base prospect Eric Hosmer from Triple-A Omaha. Hosmer, 21, was hitting .439 with three home runs, 15 RBIs, three stolen bases and a 1.107 OPS in 98 at-bats at Omaha. Hosmer hit .409 against righties, but his lefty splits were even more remarkable as he hit .500 and all three of his homers versus southpaws!
Despite his gaudy numbers and off-the-charts performance, it wasn't standard operating procedure for a small-market club to bring up an elite prospect after roughly one month of Triple-A experience. If all goes well, Hosmer will qualify for Super Two arbitration status after the 2012 season, which would mean he could earn a multi-million dollar salary by his third year.
Kudos to the Royals here; they made a baseball-motivated move to help a surprising club that has come out of the gates with a 17-14 record and is currently second in the American League Central standings.
Hosmer is a special bat. He is an advanced hitter who wasn't being challenged enough at Triple-A. Along with Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Jesus Montero of the New York Yankees, Hosmer is in the argument for the best hitting prospect in the minors and has a strong case over both of his competitors.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound masher has outstanding plate coverage. He can nail outside pitches and drive them to left field as well as anybody in the minors.
The former third-overall pick of the 2008 draft already has a firm grasp of the strike zone, having drawn more walks (19) than strikeouts (16) at Omaha this season.
Hosmer got off to such a blistering start that he is due to come back to earth, and the major leagues can be cruel to rookies; just ask Brandon Belt. If the Royals are patient and let him work his way through slumps, though, Hosmer is going to hit over the long term, and he can potentially hit .280 with 10-plus homers this season as a 21-year-old; that's a conservative projection.
Hosmer has the hitting skills to compete for a batting title and provide 25- to 30-home run pop in the future.
No matter what league or the circumstances, Hosmer is a must-add. Even if he's not a good fit in a standard mixed league format, just find a way to get him on the bench. Hosmer might be the best pure hitting talent to get called up since the Milwaukee Brewers promoted Ryan Braun in May 2007.
About Chris Hadorn
Chris Hadorn has covered minor league and amateur prospects for more than a decade. He writes for San Diego's North County Times and has been a KFFL fantasy baseball contributor since 2006.