Hosmer with the Kansas City Royals in 2011
|Kansas City Royals – No. 35|
October 24, 1989 |
South Miami, Florida
|May 6, 2011, for the Kansas City Royals|
(through 2015 season)
|Runs batted in||368|
|Career highlights and awards|
Eric John Hosmer (born October 24, 1989) is an American League first baseman for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has played for the Royals since making his MLB debut on May 6, 2011.
A highly touted prospect coming out of American Heritage High School in Florida, Hosmer was described as a "left-handed hitter with raw power" by scouts. He was drafted as the third overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft where he received a $6 million signing bonus. He advanced relatively quickly in minor league baseball, before debuting in MLB. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year ballot for the 2011 season after hitting .293 with 19 home runs in 128 games.
Hosmer's father, Mike, is a retired firefighter, and his mother, Ileana, is a nurse. His mother was born in Cuba and came to the United States at the age of seven with her family to escape Fidel Castro's regime, growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents met in 1979 when Mike was assigned to duty at Coral Gables Hospital in Coral Gables, Florida, where Illeana worked. They married four years later. Their first son Mike Jr. was born in 1985, and Eric was born four years later in Miami.
Growing up in Cooper City, Hosmer credited his family for helping him succeed as a baseball player. He began playing baseball at an early age, using a Tony Gwynn teeball hitter to take practice swings. His father volunteered to do 48 hour shifts in a Liberty City firehouse, one of the worst neighborhoods in Miami, to focus on his son's baseball games which he usually coached. The Hosmers traveled all over the state, and as far as Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, to play in baseball tournaments. At home, Hosmer watched Florida Marlins games to study the hitting techniques of the team players in order to improve his skills. His father helped him with batting practice after finishing long shifts at work, while his mother helped with his homework and taped every baseball game to evaluate Hosmer's baseball ability and further hone his skills. By the time Hosmer reached high school, he worked out "close to seven hours a day" and mainly ate protein, which helped form his muscular build. Hosmer's family hired Bladimir Marrero, a highly regarded hitting instructor and the father of Washington Nationals first baseman Chris Marrero, to help with their son's skills. His brother Mike also played baseball, receiving a scholarship to Florida State University. He was never interested in becoming a professional baseball player, however, and currently is a stock broker in Miami.
High school career
By the time Hosmer was a teenager, he was a member of several Little League baseball squads that won a couple of state championships. He attended American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida. His parents selected American Heritage because of their rich baseball program, which was considered to be one of the best in the United States, despite the expensive tuition. By Hosmer's sophomore year, he grew eight inches in size, becoming a powerful prep prospect. In his senior year, Hosmer hit .470 with 11 home runs, as the team was in the top 10 in USA Today's Super 25 rankings for most of the year and won a state championship. He attracted twenty or more MLB and college scouts who evaluated Hosmer's every move. Several of his amateur home runs had popularity in YouTube, which caught the attention of sports agent Scott Boras. He received many achievements while in high school including being named as Florida's Baseball Player of the Year twice by the Miami Herald, a member of the Rawlings High School Gold Glove team, and the American Amateur Baseball Congress Connie Mack MVP award. Hosmer was offered a baseball scholarship to Arizona State University, one of college baseball's most prestigious programs. Hosmer planned to attend Arizona State if negotiations with an MLB team did not go through.
He was named as one of the top five prep baseball players in the country by several scouting agencies by the time he graduated in 2008, including number two by Rivals.com and third by both RISE Magazine and Sports Illustrated. As "one of high school baseball top power hitters" by scouts, and a consensus top 10 pick, Hosmer was chosen by the Royals in the first round (third overall selection) of the 2008 MLB Draft. Hosmer remained unsigned for most of the summer while the Royals general manager Dayton Moore and Boras, operating as Hosmer's agent, negotiated a deal. During negotiations, Hosmer helped lead his team based in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a second-place finish at the American Amateur Baseball Congress Connie Mack World Series. Both sides agreed to a contract ten minutes before the signing dateline for drafted players on August 15, 2008. He received a six million dollar signing bonus, the largest sum given to a draft pick in Royals history.
Soon after signing his contract, the Royals assigned Hosmer, #30 at the time, to the Idaho Falls Chukars of the rookie level Pioneer League in minor league baseball. Before reporting to the Chukars, Royals general manager Moore told reporters that Hosmer would not be "rushed" to reach the Majors, stating that he needs to advance though the Minor League hierarchy in his "own natural pace". He played a handful of games with the Chukars before a contract dispute with another Boras client, Pittsburgh Pirates second overall pick Pedro Alvarez delayed Hosmer from playing with the team. Boras had claimed that Alvarez signed his contract after the August 15 deadline had passed, thus won't report to the Pirates. The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance stating that Hosmer's contract was also signed past the deadline and that Major League Baseball extended the August 15 deadline without the association's permission. Both sides settled the claim a month later, allowing Hosmer and Alvarez to join their respective teams. Hosmer never disputed his original contract. Instead of heading back to the Chukars, Hosmer was sent to the Arizona Fall League to train.
In Hosmer's first full season in minor league ball, Hosmer was sent to the Burlington Bees in the Midwest League, the Royals' other rookie league affiliate. At Burlington, Hosmer struggled at the plate. By June 1, he hit only one home run in 31 games while leading the team in strikeouts. He missed some time with a left pinkie finger injury. At the end of the season, Hosmer hit .241 with six home runs. He later mentioned the 2009 season as "a tough year". In 2010, Hosmer was named the seventh best first base prospect by Scout.com. He started the season with the Royals' Class A-Advanced affiliate, the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League. where his struggles continued. He was soon diagnosed with astigmatism, an eye condition and had laser surgery to correct the problem. Hosmer returned to the Blue Rocks a week later and his hitting significantly improved. By May 23 he was hitting .388 with a .571 slugging percentage. He played in the 2010 All-Star Futures Game where he had four hits and two RBI in a 9-1 victory. For his effort, Hosmer was promoted to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Class AA Texas League on July 17, where in his first at-bat he hit a home run. During the playoffs Hosmer hit six home runs, which was individually, the second highest total in a single Texas League playoff series. The team went on to win the Texas League championship.
The Royals' farm system was ranked number one in baseball entering the 2011 season, led by Hosmer and another top prospect, third baseman Mike Moustakas. Most baseball critics agreed that the Royals, a team that was known for mediocrity the past two decades, would be a contender within a couple of years, and they had nine prospects in Baseball America's top 100, a record for the publication. Hosmer was ranked as the best first baseman prospect in Major League Baseball prior to the 2011 season. He was also rated the eighth best overall prospect by Baseball America, and the top Royals prospect overall. So much hype was placed on the Royals that general manager Dayton Moore traded the team's best player, Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers for four top prospects, to focus on the team's future. Hosmer began the season with the Royals Class AAA affiliate, the Omaha Storm Chasers of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). When the Royals purchased Hosmer's contract on May 5, 2011, he was leading the minor leagues with a .439 batting average and the PCL with 43 hits and a .525 on-base percentage.
The Royals recalled Hosmer on May 5, 2011. Veteran catcher Jason Kendall was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make space for Hosmer on the 40-man roster. He made his MLB debut at first base the following day against Oakland Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez, replacing Kila Ka'aihue. Prior to his debut, Hosmer was being touted by journalists as a "super-prospect" and the "most-hyped" rookie to debut for the Royals since Bo Jackson. The Royals promoted Hosmer before a mid-June deadline in which the Royals could have avoided salary arbitration for an extra year. Hosmer went hitless in two at-bats, striking out twice. Hosmer also walked twice and stole a base in a 3–2 loss as the Royals had the second biggest crowd of the season.
On May 11 at Yankee Stadium, Hosmer started as the cleanup hitter for the Royals; he hit his first MLB home run off Yankees pitcher A. J. Burnett. In his first month with the Royals, he hit .283 with five home runs and was named the Royals Player of the Month. His batting average fell 14 points by the end of June, with manager Ned Yost citing "impatience at the plate". He hit a game-winning two-run home run against closer Matt Capps of the Minnesota Twins on July 16. The home run led the Twins to replace Capps with Joe Nathan as its closer the next day. In the month of July, Hosmer was named the American League (AL) Rookie of the Month. He had five hits, including a three-run home run against Brad Penny in a 10–2 win against the Detroit Tigers on September 20. The next day, sportswriter Ian Casselberry of MLive.com called Hosmer a "Tiger killer" because of his statistics against the Tigers, which included a .346 batting average with four home runs that season. He led all rookies in most major batting categories for September, earning Hosmer a second Rookie of the Month award.
Hosmer finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels and winner Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit .293 with 19 home runs and 73 runs batted in (RBIs) in 128 games. Yost praised Hosmer, and another rookie, catcher Salvador Pérez, calling them "future perennial All-Star players".
On February 18, 2012, the Royals announced they had signed Hosmer to a one-year contract for the 2012 season. No financial terms of the deal were released. During spring training, Hosmer led all players with 29 RBIs and had a slugging percentage of .714. Discussing Hosmer's spring training, Royals Hall of Famer George Brett said, "He's a baseball player... He acts like a baseball player. And boy, he's going to be a damn good one, too." By opening day, the Kansas City media was hyping Hosmer as the "face of the franchise", the city " next future sports star", among other commentary after his performance last year. He started at first base on opening day against the L.A. Angels, going 0-for-4. He hit a home run in a 6-3 victory the next day but later struggled, hitting below .200 for the first couple of weeks of the season as the Royals endured an 11-game losing streak entering April 24. He ended the season with a .232/.304/.359 slash line to go along with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. In 2013 his defense earned him his first Gold Glove award.
On July 20, 2014, in a game against the Boston Red Sox, Hosmer was hit in the hand by a pitch from Jon Lester. At first, he was only day-to-day with a bruised hand. However, on July 31, in a game against the Minnesota Twins, he aggravated the injury on a checked swing in the fourth inning. X-rays revealed a displaced fracture of the third finger on his right hand. Hosmer missed four weeks due to the injury.
In the 2014 postseason, Hosmer helped lead the Royals to a record-setting run, winning three consecutive extra-inning games. After getting on base five times in the wildcard game against the Oakland A's, Hosmer also slammed a game-winning, two-run homer in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In doing so, the first baseman became the first player in MLB history to hit both a triple and a home run during extra innings in one year's postseason.
In the early morning hours of October 6, after the Royals had completed their sweep of the Angels, Hosmer posted on Twitter, inviting Kansas City fans to come out celebrate with him at a downtown bar, the Power and Light District. Eventually, it was reported, "...(h)ordes showed up, and many of the fans ended up with free drinks as Hosmer...decided to help pay for an open bar for an hour. With several teammates, he also sprayed some champagne into the crowd."
On February 18, 2015, Hosmer and the Royals agreed to a $13.9 million, two-year contract. Hosmer gets $5.65 million during the 2015 season and $8.25 million during the 2016 season, and will be eligible for arbitration again in 2017. He will not be eligible for free agency until 2018. During the 2015 season, Hosmer had a career year with a .297 batting average, with 18 home runs and 93 RBIs. Hosmer also recorded the final putout of the AL Central and the American League Championship Series clinching games. On October 23, Hosmer tied George Brett for the most RBIs in the postseason (23) in Royals' franchise history when he singled Lorenzo Cain home from first base representing the go-ahead run in Game 6 of the ALCS. In Game 1 of the 2015 World Series, Hosmer overtook Brett's record for the most RBIs in the postseason with a walk-off sacrifice fly to bring in Alcides Escobar in the 14th inning, representing Hosmer's 25th postseason RBI and helping atone for an eighth-inning error that helped the Mets take a one-run lead. Hosmer starred again in game 2 with two hits, a run scored, and two RBIs to help the Royals take a 7-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. On November 1, 2015 Hosmer scored the tying run in the 9th inning which eventually led to the Royals win in game 5 of the World Series
Hosmer won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award in 2015.
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