Six Pitches

As the entire world knows by now, Eric Hosmer made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals on Friday against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium. He turned a brilliant double play in the first inning – one of several plays to flash that future Gold Glove – but failed to collect a hit in four plate appearances, including two strikeouts, in the Kansas City loss.

But that first at-bat for Eric Hosmer, a walk on six pitches against impressive A’s lefty Gio Gonzalez, could very well be a glimpse of the future for the talented young first baseman.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

PITCH 1: FASTBALL, 96 miles per hour, 1-0 count

Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Here are 96 reasons you should tuck tail and run back to Omaha. But Hosmer watches the blazing fastball sail past for a ball outside.

PITCH 2: FASTBALL, 95 miles per hour, 1-1

Hosmer lifts the bat off his shoulder for the first time in his major league career, fouling this pitch off. He shows Gonzalez that he has the timing to hit in this league and has no problem catching up to the 95-mile-per-hour heater. The count is even.

PITCH 3: CURVEBALL, 82 miles per hour, 1-2

Here, Gio Gonzalez throws a good ol’ knee-buckler. It was an impressive pitch, if not a couple inches too high, and Hosmer takes it for a called strike. He probably could have tattooed the pitch, but the rookie showed nice restraint in holding off on the curve.

PITCH 4: CURVEBALL, 83 miles per hour, 2-2

Gonzalez uses a veteran’s trick here. He showed Hosmer the curve once, and Hosmer watched it land in the heart of the strike zone. So Gonzalez throws it again, but this time it lands in the dirt. Hosmer doesn’t take the bait – like so many rookies and even veterans would – and it’s ball 2.

PITCH 5: CURVEBALL, 82 miles per hour, 3-2

Gio still has some pitches to work with, so he throws another curve in the dirt. Again, the stoic Hosmer watches it. Now we have a full count. The Kauffman Stadium fans are on their feet, cheering for their homegrown prospect to plaster a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall.

PITCH 6: FASTBALL, 97 miles per hour, walk

Amazing. Simply amazing. Imagine being a highly-touted prospect, called up to rescue a floundering offense, and you get a juicy fastball on a 3-2 count. Hosmer simply stands there and watches the pitch land just barely out of the strike zone. Then he play-acts like a veteran by tossing the bat toward the dugout and running toward first base before the ump has a chance to call “Ball Four!”

Hosmer went on to draw a walk in his second at-bat as well – again on six pitches – and even stole second base. In the third at-bat, Hosmer never lifted the bat off his shoulder and was called out on three straight strikes to end the sixth inning. This at-bat is the only time where Hosmer’s epic patience was a detriment; lifting the bat off his shoulder would have given the Royals a chance to capitalize on Jeff Francoeur’s two-out double.

In Hosmer’s final at-bat, he records another strikeout – but everybody watching the broadcast knows it should have been his third walk. The final pitch was well off the plate.

But that’s baseball. All in all, Eric Hosmer saw 21 pitches on Friday. He swung at only four of them, and swung and missed at only one. That’s quite an impressive show of restraint, especially on a team that has shown no restraint at the plate whatsoever in recent years.

Hosmer will have plenty more chances to swing the bat. But American League pitchers are now on notice: this kid is not just another rookie.

Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and associate editor for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at mattkelsey14@yahoo.com.

Author: Matt Kelsey

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