Friday, May 6, 2011
Super-prospect Eric Hosmer debuts
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When the Kansas City Royals told him he was being promoted to the big leagues, Eric Hosmer did not call his family and say, "I made it."
"I said, 'We made it,'" recalled the Royals' most-hyped rookie since Bo Jackson. "I felt like it was a complete family effort."
A slugging first baseman and third overall pick in the 2008 draft, Hosmer was hitting .439 in 26 games at Triple-A Omaha when he got the call Thursday. It was the highest average of any minor league regular in the country and enough to convince the Royals the time had come to bring up at least one of the prime prospects who've been seasoning in a minor league system that many believe is baseball's best.
"There's no question in my mind he won't end up being a special player because he's got all the attributes to being a special player," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Hosmer's debut was easily the most ballyhooed in Kansas City since Jackson arrived in Kauffman Stadium in 1986. Jackson, who had won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn the year before, was the only Royal to hold a news conference prior to his first game until about 30 media types fired questions at Hosmer.
Standing in the back of the room and watching the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder handle all the attention with rare skill for a 21-year-old rookie were his mother, father, brother, aunt and uncle.
"Any time a guy gets called up to the major leagues -- it's something I've been working for my entire life," he said. "For me to be here tonight and my family to fly in to watch it is unbelievable. Now I'll be playing my first major league game tonight."
Hosmer, who bats and throws left-handed, started at first base and hit sixth against Oakland Athletics left-hander Gio Gonzalez. He repeatedly referred to how much he owed his family.
"My dad going out throwing me BP on days he's coming off of 48-hour shifts, or my mom staying up all night helping me with my homework and my brother and me watching film that my mom would tape during a high school game. It's unbelievable. I couldn't be happier that they're here," he said.
Mike Hosmer, a retired firefighter in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., packed up the family Friday morning and got to the stadium just as his son was being introduced to the media.
"It's going 100 miles an hour right now," said the elder Hosmer. "It's like I pinch myself every few minutes to see if it's real. Then I look around and it is. I don't know what's going to happen when he walks out on that field. It's just crazy."
The town was abuzz just minutes after the announcement was made Thursday that Hosmer was being called up. All day long, hardly anything else discussed on sports talk radio.
Mike Hosmer got an inkling of the interest Royals fans had in his son when he flew in for the annual FanFest in January and rented a car.
"I took the credit card and the license out and handed it to the gentleman," Hosmer recalled. "He said, 'Do you have a reservation?' I handed it to him and he looked at it and said, 'Hosmer? Are you any relation to Eric Hosmer?' I said yes, I was his father. Then he started reciting stats and everything and I thought, 'Wow! There are some really hard-core fans here.'"