06/05/08 6:14 PM EST
Power play: KC drafts potent lefty bat
Royals see 'future star' in high school standout Hosmer
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Hosmer, from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., is a strong left-handed batter with "as much raw power as anyone in the Draft," according to Baseball America.
"We need guys that are future stars on that diamond if we're going to win a World Series," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "We think Eric has that type of potential to be that type of guy."
As evidenced by the Royals' search for runs at the Major League level this season, a power hitter was a priority.
The MLB.com scouting report has this to say about Hosmer: "Arguably the top high school bat in the Draft class, the lefty first baseman has drawn comparisons to Casey Kotchman for his advanced hitting approach, though he might not quite be there. He's got a ton of upside with the bat, both in terms of hitting for average and power, and he's surprisingly nimble defensively."
Hosmer, 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, was among the most highly regarded high school players in this year's talent pool. He played for Team USA's junior squad last summer and for one of the nation's best prep teams.
As a senior at American Heritage, Hosmer batted .470 with 11 home runs, 27 RBIs, 49 runs and 14 stolen bases. He played in the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic last year and was the 2008 Player of the Year by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Baseball America rated him as the high school player closest to making the Majors.
Royals' top five selections
|3.||1B||Eric Hosmer||American Heritage Sch. (Fla.)|
|36.||LHP||Michael Montgomery||Hart HS (Calif.)|
|49.||2B||Johnny Giavotella||U of New Orleans|
|80.||RHP||Tyler Sample||J.K. Mullen Prep|
|115.||RHP||Timothy Melville||Wentzville Holt HS (Mo.)|
|Complete Royals Draft results >|
"He's really been a star performer. I think his batting average, home runs, all those things speak for themselves," said Deric Ladnier, the Royals' senior director of scouting. "One thing about this young man we found out is that he's a winner, he's always been a winner. They ended up winning the state championship this year. He was the guy that picked the team up when it was time to play and really carried that team."
The 18-year-old lefty hits to all fields, often driving home runs the other way. He's got an above-average arm -- he's the closer for his high school team and has been clocked at 98 mph -- but below-average running speed.
The MLB.com report on his hitting: "An advanced approach at the plate, plenty of power potential -- he's just an all-around offensive package. The one weakness in his offensive game is on pitches up and in. He tucks his hands, and anything thrown hard and inside will give him some trouble."
Ladnier said that Hosmer is expected to remain at first base, although there's been speculation that his strong arm could mean a switch to right field.
There's no way to put a timetable on how soon Hosmer might arrive in the Major Leagues, according to Ladnier.
|"We need guys that are future stars on that diamond if we're going to win a World Series. We think Eric has that type of potential to be that type of guy."|
|-- GM Dayton Moore|
The Royals picked Hosmer after Tampa Bay made shortstop Tim Beckham the No. 1 choice and Pittsburgh took first baseman Pedro Alvarez as No. 2 in the first round.
Hosmer has signed to play college ball at Arizona State and is represented by agent Scott Boras, who has sparred with the Royals many times, including over their last two top picks.
In 2006, Luke Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick, the first in Royals history. He's now in the big league club's starting rotation. Last year, the Royals selected No. 2 and took shortstop Mike Moustakas, now at Class A Burlington, Iowa. Both were represented by Boras.
It was a summer-long process to sign those players, and Moore wasn't speculating on how long this one might take. The deadline is Aug. 15.
"When you come across this talent, it really stands out. He has a wow factor and it really doesn't take a keen scouting judgment on any given night to look at Eric Hosmer and know he's the best player on the field," Moore said. "We fully expect to sign every player that we select."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Associate reporter Mark Dent contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.