It's no surprise that Eric Hosmer is good -- he was ranked as baseball's No. 8 Prospect
by MLB.com entering the season. But the 21-year-old first baseman is off to a start that is hard to overrate.
Hosmer went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and a pair of walks on Tuesday night as the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers rallied for a 7-5 road win over the Albuquerque Isotopes.
After 25 games -- he's collected multiple hits in 12 of them -- the Royals prospect is hitting .430 with three homers, 14 RBIs and three stolen bases. He's also drawn 18 walks for a Pacific Coast League-leading .518 on-base percentage while striking out 15 times. And he's 16-for-26 during a seven-game hitting streak.
While Hosmer certainly benefits from his position in the Storm Chasers' lineup -- he hits third, just ahead of No. 7 prospect Mike Moustakas and Clint Robinson, the reigning Texas League Triple Crown winner -- he still has to put the bat on the ball.
"I've been getting a lot of work in early with [hitting coach] Tommy [Gregg] in the cage, but it's a big help having Moose and the guys behind me," Hosmer said. "Hitting is contagious and it seems like our hitters are always setting the table."
Lately, it seems that no matter who follows him in the lineup, pitchers want no part of Hosmer. He has seven walks in his last four games.
"My discipline's been a lot better, especially in the last couple weeks," he said. "Guys [in Triple-A] can throw off-speed stuff for strikes, so it's been an adjustment. I feel like I'm seeing the ball a lot better now."
He saw the ball just fine against the Isotopes on Tuesday, reaching base four times and scoring twice. Both of his hits came off Albuquerque starter Dana Eveland, a left-hander with 95 games of Major League experience. He's 16-for-32 with three homers against southpaws.
"I had some trouble with lefties early in my career, so it's something I've worked on a lot," Hosmer said. "We have batting practice sometimes just against left-handed curveballs -- you really learn to keep your shoulder in."
Despite Hosmer's heroics, it's been a team effort for the Storm Chasers, who have 11 wins in their last 14 games. After three straight scoreless outings, starter Danny Duffy (2-0) allowed four runs on five hits over six frames but earned the win. He walked two and fanned nine, giving him 33 strikeouts over 26 innings this season.
Leadoff man Lorenzo Cain went 3-for-5 with a double and David Lough doubled, singled and stole two bases. The biggest blow came from Robinson, who slugged a three-run shot -- his eighth -- in the sixth inning.
Trent Oeltjen homered, tripled and drove in three of the Isotopes' five runs.
Eveland (3-2) took the loss after allowing six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and four walks over 6 1/3 frames. He struck out five.
Hosmer will look to continue his hot streak with two more games in Albuquerque before the Storm Chasers head home on Friday. Although he's still just 21 years old, the numbers he's amassing in Triple-A must be hard to ignore in the Royals front office.
Hosmer downplays speculation about his Major League debut.
"Every player has expectations, but I know the Royals have a plan and I'm not going to question it," he said. "If they call, I'll be ready, but in the meantime I'm concentrating on helping the Storm Chasers win games."