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Tag:Eric Hosmer
Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 9:46 pm
 

GM Moore: Royals will keep home-grown talent

KANSAS CITY -- If Bubba Starling, the Royals' first-round pick in Monday's draft, follows the same path as Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon (this year's model), Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crow and even Mike Moustakas, an already rich farm system will become even more fertile.

But if Starling and some of those other guys follow the path of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye as short timers in Kansas City, then might this Royal praise be fool's gold?

Mixed in among the 25 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance was one significant recent false start, in 2003. The Royals that year had their only winning season in the past 16, and Tony Pena was named American League manager of the year. Beltran, at 26, was the center fielder.

By the middle of '04, Beltran had been traded to Houston and by the middle of '05, Pena had been fired.

The general manager is different now -- Dayton Moore instead of Allard Baird -- but the owner is still the same in David Glass.

"Everybody wants to sign good, young players long-term," Moore told me during a conversation shortly after the Royals made Starling their top pick. "We're no different in Kansas City. We've demonstrated that over the last three years by signing Zack Greinke, although we traded him, Billy Butler and Joakim Soria to long-term deals. Those have been our three most productive players over the last four years."

And in the Royals' defense, though they're short on pitching, their price for Greinke was high, including current shortstop Alcides Escobar.

Moore has said more than once that if the Yankees or the Red Sox want somebody in today's game, they're eventually going to get him.

"That's why you've got to have a great farm system," Moore said. "If you have a lot of good players, it's going to be hard to sign all of them long-term in the economy of today's game.

"John Schuerholz in Atlanta [the former GM and current president] signed Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones long-term, but he couldn't keep Rafael Furcal. He signed John Smoltz long-term but couldn't keep Tom Glavine, even though he tried.

"Our goal, by 2012, 2013, is to have the majority of our 25-man roster reflect home-grown talent. Hopefully, we can do it. We're on pace to do it. Then there's a pride factor -- they know the rookie ball hitting coach and manager, the know the coaches and managers all the way up."

Then, Moore says, if players decline long-term deals or leave via free agency, "they're not just saying no to the Kansas City Royals. They're saying no to every coach, instructor, scout and front-office person. That's a major split."

Moore points to the Twins, who have signed Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Joe Nathan to long-term deals, as models.

"That's what we're trying to do," Moore said. "I believe in the plan. We have to execute the plan."

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Posted on: June 5, 2011 7:46 pm
 

"Instant hero" Hosmer looks like a KC keeper

KANSAS CITY -- He is quickly becoming this year's breakout rookie, this summer's Buster Posey or Stephen Strasburg.

Rattle a couple of home runs around Yankee Stadium within a week of your major-league debut, and that'll help.

But Eric Hosmer, Kansas City's 21-year-old first baseman, it far more than just a tabloid sensation.

"He's a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman," Royals manager Ned Yost says. "And he's got as pretty a swing as I've seen since J.D. Drew."

"As mature a 21-year-old as I've seen in a long time," Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur says. "I wish I had half his approach when I was 21. But I was Mr. Cave Man, just letting it go."

Hosmer is anything but. He is refined enough to change his approach from at-bat to at-bat, and he is savvy enough to hit to all fields.

His 28 hits and 12 runs scored during the month of May led all American League rookies. Impressive in its own right, but when you consider that that he wasn't even promoted from Triple-A Omaha until May 6 ... talk about hitting the ground running.

For that, Hosmer, Kansas City's first-round pick in the 2008 draft (third overall), also was named as the Royals' player of the month for hitting .283 with five homers and 17 RBI.

"Spring training helped me a lot," says Hosmer, who won the Class A Carolina League batting title last year (.354) and tied for the league lead in on-base percentage (.429). "They invited me to big league camp knowing I wasn't going to make the team. They just told me to learn as much as possible and have fun with it.

"I tried to take that to Omaha. I told myself to work harder and learn as much as possible."

By the end of his month-long run there, there was barely any more to learn: Hosmer was leading all of minor-league baseball in both batting average (.439) and on-base percentage (.525) at the time of his recall.

A big man (6-4, 229 pounds) with lots of power, what the major-league spring training invite did was not only help boost his confidence, but make him even more comfortable with Yost and his staff. That way, when Hosmer joined the Royals in Kansas City on May 6, they didn't need to waste time with introductions. He already knew everyone and the way they worked.

The New York home runs came on May 11 -- first of his career against A.J. Burnett -- and May 12. Yeah, right, if you can make it there. ...

"He became an instant hero here with that," says television analyst Frank White, who was slick enough at second base that he was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame. "That put an exclamation mark on his start."

By the time Minnesota left town after sweeping the Royals on Sunday, Hosmer was hitting .300 and carrying a seven-game hitting streak. He's hitting .400 during that streak, including five multi-hit games.

Talking before Sunday's game, several Twins coaches were marveling about how their pitchers had thrown Hosmer everything during the first three games of the series and rarely fooled him. Hosmer, they said, makes adjustments pitch-to-pitch, within the same at-bat, something that's difficult for most veterans, let alone a kid who on Sunday played in only his 28th big-league game.

So far, Hosmer has hit safely in 21 of those 28 games, including in 15 of 17 in Kauffman Stadium.

"He's got a long career ahead of him," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, himself a first-round pick (2004), says. "Whenever he goes through his growing pains, he's just going to get better and better.

"He's got the makings of an All-Star."

 

 
 
 
 
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