WASHINGTON, May 8, 2011—Eric Hosmer stepped into the batter’s box at Kauffman Stadium and waited for the pitch from Oakland lefty Gio Gonzalez. Having just been called-up to the Royals, he first performance didn’t exactly dazzle. But it doesn’t matter. His presence signals a new start for the Royals.
One could argue that the drafting of Eric Hosmer at third overall in 2008 signaled that the Royals revival was beginning in earnest. The previous year’s draft had yielded top shortstop prospect Mike Moustakas and lights-out left-hander Danny Duffy. Also in 2008, Dayton Moore would add another top left-hander in Michael Montgomery. The following year brought Aaron Crow, who would beat the others to the majors, albeit as a reliever; and Wil Myers, a catcher with an immense power bat.
This should not be construed as a complete endorsement of Kansas City’s drafting strategy. Complete ineptitude at the major league level has allowed them to draft highly year after year, after year. That misfortune at the top level is most likely solely responsible for bringing Hosmer and Moustakas into the organization.
The arrival date for Royals prospects has been pushed back year-by-year. At last guess, the entire core of the farm system was expected to land in Kansas City around 2012.
But at last it has started.
Crow, drafted first by the Washington Nationals in 2008, then by Kansas City the following year, broke camp with the Royals as a middle reliever. Over his first 15.1 innings, he didn’t allow a run. His streak finally ending on May 7, when he blew his first career save opportunity in a home game against the Athletics.
But Crow was never really considered a top prospect after failing to reach a deal with the Nationals. He was 22 when the Royals selected him as the 12th overall pick, two years older than most college prospects. When he made it to the upper minors in 2010, he struggled with his command, earmarking himself for a middle relief role.
It was players like Moustakas, hitting 36 homeruns across two levels in 2010, Hosmer and his .303 isolated power mark, and Montgomery, mowing down top hitters like he destroyed his high school counterparts in southern California, who were the images of the future in Kansas City’s farm system.
On May 6, after seven pitches from the notoriously wild Gonzalez, Hosmer drew a walk. Two innings later, he drew another free pass. In his final two plate appearances, he showed his inexperience, taking three straight called strikes from Gonzalez in the sixth, and taking another called strike three from Brian Fuentes in the ninth.
Not exactly the power display fans were looking to see.
And it didn’t matter. Not one bit. Because just his presence showed that the new Royals are coming, and that the American League should be scared, very scared.
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