I usually hesitate to write stuff like this—predictions of how prospects will eventually fit into the major league team. It’s fun to mentally rearrange the furniture, but when the prospects you’re talking about are currently at A and AA, chances are good that trades or injuries will allow things to work themselves out. Still, it’s not a stretch to imagine Moustakas in Kansas City by the middle of next summer if he continues treating the Texas league like his feudal kingdom (granted, it’s been less than a month that he’s done this, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but he is just flattening baseballs right now). It’s also obviously not a stretch to imagine Gordon in left field before this summer is over. Trading two of Podsednik/Ankiel/Dejesus is not just plausible, it’s probable.
The following are, I think, fair assumptions:
(1) Gordon Byrnes (a new Robert Ludlum character?) mans left before season’s end. Unless he suddenly stops hitting in Omaha, which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. And, of course, unless one of our three outfielders doesn’t get traded or injured, which just seems impossible to me (but we are talking about the R…)
(2) Billy Butler will not be traded before he reaches free agency. I mean, he’s sort of the face of the offense now. Can anyone see the R’s dealing him?
Let’s start with Moose. The above assumptions leave for him as possibilities: Third base and Right Field. Both of these possibilities are a little awkward. First of all Callaspo seems like the guy at third base—the team seems more and more in love with him over there. Still, I’m hesitant to just assume he wouldn’t be traded if he were perceived as the roadblock while Moose was knocking on the door with his boomstick. That, of course, seems an unlikely scenario given everything we’ve heard so far about Moose’s defense at third.
For fun, let’s assume that Moose learns to play third at an acceptable level and Callaspo is then moved out of the way, which would most likely find him playing for another team.
Remember, this is not ten years into the future, we could be talking about almost exactly one year from now.
But Moose really didn’t motivate me to write this, I’m more interested in Hosmer, because this train of thought has me thinking that the Royals should make a fairly dramatic move right now. Here’s where my wild imagination takes control: Hosmer, as everyone is aware, is utterly raking at High A. Well, utterly might be a little strong, he isn’t hitting homers, but he’s hitting a ton of doubles (probably on pace for 40 or so if my math is vaguely correct), and we all know about Wilmington and home runs. There’s the famous case of Beltran not hitting for power in Wilmington and then exploding in AA. And then there’s the seemingly soon-to-be famous case of Moose hitting for only a little power (if 16 homers is a little) in Wilmington and then swinging a boomstick in Arkansas.
There is no doubt that I’m getting ahead of myself here. No doubt. But it’s not impossible to imagine Hosmer spraying line drives in Arkansas. It’s not impossible for me, given his light tower power profile that everyone was so intrigued about when he exited high school, to imagine more than a few of those line drives putting dents in outfield seats. And you wouldn’t be the village idiot if you wondered aloud whether Hosmer would get a taste of Kauffman stadium, say, next September.
So where are we…Moose is doing his best Mark Reynolds imitation at 3b, while Callaspo plays somewhere else, with Gordon in left and Butler at first. Kila is living on base in the DH role. That pretty much leaves Right field for Hosmer (wait, you’re not going to suggest that Moose plays right are you?).
Look, even if this elaborate scenario I’ve painted doesn’t come to pass exactly as the depressed Royals fan who stares hopefully at minor league statistics all summer sees it, Butler still lives at first base. Pretty much no matter how you slice it. And Hosmer’s not playing third anytime soon. He’s going to have to play either right or left field, isn’t that starting to become obvious? Shouldn’t he be getting some reps in the outfield? If I remember correctly, part of the reason we drafted him was for his athleticism. If I remember correctly, he has an arm. Like Moustakas, he threw from a mound in some situations in high school, or did I dream that? Even if all of this projection is too far off to contemplate now, even if something happens to Butler before Hoz debuts, isn’t it a pretty easy transition from the outfield back to first base again?
I guess I just wasted a lot of words saying “I don’t understand why the Royals don’t play Hosmer in the outfield.” I could have just used one sentence.