Baseball America's #8 Prospect, Eric Hosmer, was called up last night by the Royals, and is expected to debut today. The Royals expected to leave Hosmer in AAA to get at least 250 at bats, but made the call with him tearing up the PCL with a .439/.525/.582 after only 118 PA's.
The decision to pull the trigger on Hosmer was undoubtedly helped along by the failure of Kila Ka'aihue, batting .195/.295/.317 with only two home runs. Ka'aihue has put up excellent minor league umbers, but scouts were never really convinced. I'm hoping Ka'aihue gets another chance at some point, as it's not hard to envision him having a Kevin Millar type career. Millar was another patient yet unathletic 1B who put up excellent minor league numbers before getting a full time chance. That's the problem, though, with guys who are fringy in the tools department - they're simply not going to get the same number of chances as someone like Alex Gordon, so they need to seize the opportunity when they get it. Ka'aihue did not, so Shane Victorino's status as the best Hawaiian in baseball is safe.
Hosmer was the #3 pick in the 2008 draft out of high school. He struggles mightily in 2009, but after getting laser eye surgery, he was one of the best players in the minor leagues in 2010. While it might sound like rushing it to call a 21 year old who doesn't even have 350 plate appearances above single A up to the majors, Hosmer is a special talent, and the Royals are trying to keep pace with the Indians in the AL Central.
One statement of caution in regards to his 2011 outlook. Hosmer was batting .506 on balls in play in AAA. Of course, part of that is his being the best player on the field, but that's entirely unsustainable. Recalculating his BABIP to a still-excellent .354, Hosmer's stat line goes to .316/.424/.459. With that in mind, and factoring his 2010 stats as well, I'd expect something along the lines of .285/.365/.420 this year. As his power grows in the future, Hosmer's excellent approach, coupled with pitchers being less willing to give him anything to hit hard, will result in him walking 100+ times per year, and I see his long term upside as .300/.435/.570 type - certainly All-Star level production.