Profile: 1B - 6'4" - 215lbs -BT:L - TH:L - 2011 Age: 21
• Hit: 60-70
• Power: 60-70
• Eye: 45-65
• Range: 50-60
• Hands: 50-60
• Arm: 55-65
• Run: 45-50
The Royals first round pick, and the third overall in the 2008 draft, Hosmer signed an utterly massive 6m bonus out of high school. Negotiations went down to the wire but the Royals were finally able to make the signing and he did get a handful of plate appearances before the season ended. Unfortunately, he got off to a poor start in pro ball and struggled in 2009 before having LASIK surgery in the off season. In 2010, he was a totally different hitter, proving the obvious - seeing the ball is an important component in being able to hit the ball.
As a scout, when you're looking at someone you want to see hit for consistent power, (besides the obvious hand/bat speed) you want a guy who does a good job hitting over his back knee. That's a good point of strength and allows a hitter to keep his weight back while helping him get lift and torque by leaning back over that knee. You also want to see him get his butt/hips all the way through, and his hips presented on contact without having his shoulder fly open.
Hosmer does these things and more brilliantly. His swing is simple and easy to repeat without wasted motion. He keeps his hands in well, and presents the bat quickly. He doesn't pronate his front knee or clear his shoulders earlier than he has to and stays on top of the ball phenomenally well. All of which helps to explain how he pairs his plus power with impressively low strikeout rates.
Defensively, Hosmer moves well and has much better speed than you'll typically find from most first basemen. He does a good job ranging to his left, has solid hands, and is adept at making the picks which should help make him a plus defender at first. His speed has also translated into some solid steal numbers in the minors, though I don't expect that to translate into more than a handful of steals per year at the next level.
Picking on Hosmer is hard, he makes phenomenal contact and has big time power, but there are a couple concerns. First, he doesn't draw an ideal number of walks, partly because he is such a phenomenal contact hitter. That didn't effect him last year, but I foresee some struggles as he tries to make the adjustment to MLB pitching. His power might not translate immediately. The other concern is his LD rate, which has been far from ideal most of the time. He's going to want to learn to lay off some of the borderline stuff, and try to hit more line drives, which should help his BABIP and therefor, his batting average.
A really, really good hitter who might take a while to adjust to the MLB if rushed too quickly. Not sure who I'd compare him to, but he looks like a .300/.370/.520 guy waiting to happen.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.