Prospecting: Eric Hosmer on fire at Omaha

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

Royals first base prospect Eric Hosmer went 2-for-3 on Wednesday, scoring three runs and drawing a pair of walks for Triple-A Omaha. In the process, the lefty slugger raised his batting average to .415 and his on-base percentage to .492. Hosmer has a nine-game hitting streak at the moment, he's 10-for-20 against left-handed pitching, and, like last season, he's walking as often as he's striking out.

Hosmer began the year ranked as a top-10 prospect on everyone's board, so the early success isn't exactly a surprise. Still, we're talking about a 21-year-old player who'd made only 211 plate appearances above Single-A entering the season. It's nice to see that he's adjusted well to the degree of difficulty in the PCL. Last year, he hit .338/.406/.571 across two lower levels, with 20 homers, 43 doubles and 14 steals.

As we've mentioned before, there's little chance that we'll see Hosmer in Kansas City anytime soon — perhaps not until September. Third base prospect Mike Moustakas, 22, will almost certainly arrive in the bigs before Hosmer, as his path is less cluttered. But if Kila Ka'aihue continues to struggle in KC, we may need to tweak Hosmer's ETA.

Kila is an odd case, a hitter in his prime who's been nearly unstoppable in the high minors over multiple seasons (stats here). Yet he's really only had two great weeks in the majors, in late-September 2010. His present situation was neatly summarized by Will McDonald at Royals Review on Tuesday:

Despite recent assurances from Ned Yost that the Royals would continue to play Kila, I'm no longer sure. He's batting just .160 thus far. He's now a guy that nobody believed in, who is confirming that bias. He could hit respectably well for a month, and his season stat line is still going to look terrible.

As a longtime Ka'aihue apologist/investor, I'd like to see Kila succeed … and it probably needs to happen soon. Not a great sign when your manager has to issue a vote of confidence in mid-April.

Meanwhile, Hosmer lurks in Omaha, hitting everything, reaching base at a ridiculous clip. Whenever he's promoted (and again, it probably won't be soon), mixed league fantasy owners won't need to reach for him — he's a kid playing a talent-rich position, after all. Just track his progress, admire the Triple-A numbers, keep him in your plans for 2012.

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Photo via AP Images