Fantasy Royalty: KC crowns new first baseman

Eric Hosmer's arrival in Kansas City has Royals fans and fantasy owners smiling. (John Owen photo)

News out of Kansas City is that highly touted Eric Hosmer has been promoted to The Show. Hosmer is one of a half dozen prospects that should help the Royals contend in the near future. Doubtful that he’ll propel the team to a division title this year, but he certainly could give a boost to fantasy rosters. All owners should at least consider adding Hosmer.

The 21-year-old should have no problem retaining his spot in the big leagues now that he has been given a shot. After hitting .195, Hawaiian Kila Ka’aihue has been demoted to the minors. Even if Hosmer struggles mightily, he should be able to post those kinds of numbers. They also have played Wilson Betemit a few times at first, but he seems more suited for the other corner. Bottom line is, now that he has been called up, he should get regular playing time for the remainder of the season.

Several first basemen are off to slow starts. Perennial home run hitters Carlos Pena, Justin Morneau and Derrek Lee have five HRs combined. I’d gamble on Hosmer at least matching the power production of Pena and Lee for the rest of the year, and Morneau has demonstrated he is too injury prone to rely on. Fellow prospect Mike Moustakas projects for more long balls, but I’d estimate Hosmer should be good for 15-20. Keep in mind he did have 13 HRs in just 50 games for double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2010 and has knocked three over the fence for Omaha already this year.

Hosmer should also be a better option than fellow rookies who were drafted with high expectations this year. Hoping to replicate the success of catcher Buster Posey, San Francisco handed Brandon Belt the first base job. To their dismay, he hit only .192 through 17 games and has been sent back to the minors. In Atlanta, Freddie Freeman has been a similar disappointment. Freeman has a paltry .225 BA and has recently been losing ABs to former ROY Eric Hinske. Both should eventually turn things around, but I’d prefer to have Hosmer at this point. He has a career minor league .312 BA, and he leads the Pacific Coast League by 30 odd points this year at .439 BA.

I’d take him over a couple other young starters, as well. Mitch Moreland comes to mind. Moreland had a monster post-season in 2010, racking up 16 hits and a .348 BA. He hasn’t replicated those numbers this year, batting just .278, and he doesn’t seem to have Hosmer’s strike-zone awareness, as he has struck out 17 times in just 90 ABs. If you are willing to sacrifice power statistics, he’d make a better addition then Mark Trumbo. Trumbo has the worst BB/K ratio for starting first basemen in the league at .15. Taking Hosmer’s triple-A stats, he would have a BB/K rate of 1.19.

In addition to his impressive average, Hosmer brings solid plate discipline. He already has 18 BBs during early competition. Combined with his hit totals, he has reached safely in more than 50 percent of his plate appearances. Buster Olney compared him to Joey Votto on Twitter, I’d argue that with his slightly lower power numbers, he’ll probably be more comparable to Kevin Youkilis. Either are on-base machines and favorable comparisons. Hosmer should have potential fantasy owners drooling.

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