Below is a full scouting report on Eric Hosmer by Baseball Intellect's Alex Eisenberg. Alex ranked Hosmer the number one prospect in the Royals system in his most recent evaluation. You can find Baseball Intellect here.
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Eric Hosmer Scouting Report by Alex Eisenberg, Baseball Intellect
Body Type - He's filled out a good deal since high school, but he's not bulky. He still has somewhat of a long, even lanky frame.
Oh what a difference a year makes. Last year some were calling Eric Hosmer a bust. This year, they are wondering where to place him among the game's best prospect.
I took a more wait-and-see approach. Still gave him a B-grade, but I had some obvious concerns with his performance. Hosmer's breakout was spurred in large part by fixing two physical ailments from the 2009 season. The first was his vision. He suffered from blurred vision and was diagnosed with astigmatism.
As somebody who also has astigmatism, I can testify to how annoying a condition it is if you don't have the right contact lenses. For those who don't know what it does, it causes contact lenses to slide, resulting in cloudy, obstructed vision. Hosmer underwent laser eye surgery to fix the problem permanently.
Hosmer's second problem area was a fractured knuckle, which made it difficult for him to grip his bat. Any injury to a player's hands or wrists will often have some sort of negative impact on that player's power.
But now with perfect vision, Hosmer displays that terrific hand-eye coordination that scouts were accustomed to seeing from him in high school. And with his knuckle 100% healthy, the ball now jumps off his bat.
Hosmer doesn't have quite the bat speed that fellow prospects Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers possess, but he makes up for it in different ways. He has outstanding plate coverage and he's particularly adept at going down and launching balls that most hitters would have trouble lifting. When he's going well, Hosmer will take pitches down-and-away and shoot them right back up the middle.
In addition to his excellent plate coverage, he has great bat control, which enables him to adjust to pitches in mid flight.
Hosmer does an outstanding job of using the entire field, but I'll note how when he's slumping, he'll get pull happy, only to roll over on balls located on the outside corner.
You might expect someone who can cover the outside corner so well to be susceptible to pitches inside. But that's not really the case with Hosmer. He has no problem turning on a fastball in on his hands. Proof of this was in last year's Future's Game, where he ripped a 96 mph Jeurys Familia fastball that was in on the hands to the right center gap. In order to get to these inside pitches, Hosmer is able to clear his hips, which allows him to pull his hands in and take a short path to the inner portion of the plate.
Truth be told, Hosmer is just plain difficult to get out. It's not just the plate coverage or the bat control -- it's his ability to make consistent contact and spoil good pitches by fouling them off. It's his advanced pitch recognition and ability to adjust to off-speed stuff. And it's the lack of true holes in his swing. It's difficult finding an area that pitchers can exploit.
He does have some difficulty catching up to fastballs up-and-in because he has to lengthen his swing a bit in order to get to them. However, you have to get him to chase that high fastball first, which he's not apt to do.
There are several things I like about Hosmer's swing, the first of which is the loading process. In the clip below, notice how similar his loading of the elbow is to a pitcher loading his scapula. The elbow is loaded horizontally behind Hosmer's back, negating the need lengthen it by moving the hands away from the body. By loading the way he does, Hosmer keeps his swing short.
*Credit to theNWANaturals
You can see the kind of leverage Hosmer gets. He dips his back shoulder in order to get the necessary loft on his swing to drive those balls down in the zone.
Hosmer sets up with an open stance. He will vary the way he goes into foot plant. Sometimes he'll glide forward like he does above. Other times he'll get up on the toes of his front foot and then aggressively plant. And then there are times he uses a small leg kick. I haven't figured out if he uses different strides based on the situation he's in or if it's completely random.
He also keeps the bat head in the hitting zone for a long period of time. He lets the ball travel deep into his hitting zone, allowing the hands and hips to turn together on a firm front leg. He achieves excellent extension just after contact and in no way cuts his swing short.
In the below clip you can see how Hosmer is able to cover as much of the plate as he does.
*Credit to theNWANaturals
Notice how his torso bends over at the waist while the pitch is on its way. He recognizes the expected location of the pitch early and makes an adjustment with the upper body by bending at the waist and then leaning toward the pitch's expected location.
Power vs. Average
Despite a very lofty ISO-power in hitter friendly NW-Arkansas, Hosmer is still more of a hitter for average than a hitter for power. That could change as Hosmer tinkers with his swing and adds more strength.
Part of the reason is Hosmer's overall approach is geared more for average. He's perfectly fine with lobbing a pitch on the outside corner to left field for a single.
Defense Hosmer is not a great athlete -- or at least he's not as good an athlete as scouts thought he was coming out of high school. However, he worked on his agility, which improved the fluidity in his hips, and he worked on his foot speed, which helped him garner a quicker first step. Even though he still doesn't have great foot speed, he makes up for it with excellent instincts, anticipation, and soft hands. His arm grades out as plus.
Best Case Outcome - All Star first baseman
More Likely Outcome - Borderline All Star first baseman simply due to the sheer number of quality hitters who play the position.
Alex Eisenberg runs the site Baseball-Intellect, where he breaks down prospects using video analysis. He offers a Premium Membership for readers to join and has worked for the Hardball Times, Baseball Digest Daily, and has had work published for the Maple Street Press.