Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Eric Hosmer on Verge of Superstardom with Royals ; First Baseman Emerges as Star for Kansas City

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Eric Hosmer on Verge of Superstardom with Royals ; First Baseman Emerges as Star for Kansas City

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ned Yost has seen this many times before, but it all looks a little different now.

From his perch in the dugout, the Kansas City manager has watched Eric Hosmer bash the ball over the fence plenty of times. But there's just something about his first baseman that he finds especially intriguing these days, something that hints at an ever bigger and brighter future for the left-handed hitter.

He sees it in the way Hosmer swings the bat. He hears it in that sweet sound when Hosmer connects.

Take Thursday's home game against Cleveland, for example. Facing last year's Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, Hosmer watches a 95 mph fastball speed his way. The pitch starts on the inside corner and cuts back across the plate. Hosmer's eyes widen, his right foot raises and he strides forward. His long arms extend fully and the crowd roars. A few seconds later the ball rockets over the wall in center field for a three-run home run.

On a rainy day at Kauffman Stadium, Hosmer initially thought it would be a double. Kendrys Morales later blasted one to center but his fell short and was caught, making Yost marvel at Hosmer's achievement.

"I see tremendous power to center field and the off field," Yost said of Hosmer. "That's the hardest kind of power to have. Everybody's got a little pull power, but to drive a ball out to center field like he did? I mean, Kendrys Morales absolutely smoked that ball and his made it to the wall. Hosmer's went over.

"That ball that he hit the other night off the blue sign in left field? Off-field and center-field power, especially in this ballpark ... the power that he has is amazing."

* * * * * *

Across baseball, offensive numbers are down. Hosmer, though, is trending up, way up. Hosmer hit only nine homers last season but found new life in the playoffs and hasn't stopped hitting since.

At 25, Hosmer is still young, but he also is experienced. This is his fifth season in the big leagues, and he's been the driving force behind the Royals' early success.

"I'm definitely in a good place right now," said Hosmer, who is hitting .322 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. "In certain counts, I'm definitely taking more chances and trying to not miss them and starting my (load) a little earlier."

Hosmer has done most of his damage this year batting cleanup, which is where Yost slotted him late last season and during the playoffs. With third baseman Mike Moustakas currently on bereavement leave, Yost has moved Hosmer up to third, but he'll likely move back when Moustakas returns.

"I'm in a great spot because I'm hitting behind a guy like (Lorenzo) Cain and in front of Morales," Hosmer said. "So I have a lot of speed in front of me and a lot of protection behind me. …

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