PHOENIX, Ariz. - Scouts spend their careers looking for special tools in players. One of the more difficult traits to find is a swing that is compact, powerful, and consistent. Royals' budding star first baseman Eric Hosmer is one of baseball's rare players that has all of those things going for him in his swing.
"You won't find many swings better than Hosmer's," one scout raved. "All of the moving parts of his swing work in a perfect rhythm and he's able to make it all look real easy."
You'll also hear the term "pure hitter" thrown around a lot when it comes to Hosmer. The term itself is misleading because plenty of hitters get the job done on a star level without making it look all that pretty, but the ease with which Hosmer performs at the plate puts him in category with hitters like Robinson Cano.
Some hitters are known to have great hands, and some are known for their powerful lower half. Hosmer will eventually be known for both.
"He's a very, very rare breed," another scout commented. "No one has a slump-proof swing, but he has a swing that allows him to be very consistent. His lower half stays so quiet and his hands just fly through the zone."
His lower half is a good place to start. By "quiet" scouts are referring to the lack of complexity and wasted movement in Hosmer's feet. He starts slightly open, lifting his front foot slightly and landing softly in a squared up, powerful position.
The most important part of that quiet, effective stride, however, is his head movement, or lack thereof. Take a close look at Hosmer from a side angle and note the lack of forward head movement. It's minimal, to say the least. Despite the leg lift and the stride, his weight and, in turn his head, stay planted over his back leg. Hitters that keep their head movement to a minimum tend to be some of baseball's most consistent performers. It speaks volumes about his balance as well as his ability to keeps his eyes fully trained on the baseball as it's delivered.
All of this superb work with his lower half allows him to do his impressive work with his blistering fast hands. As he strides, you'll see his hands glide back into a hitting position. Obviously this is what all hitters do, but the timing and balance with which Hosmer does it are a big part of why his bat speed is so good.
"This guy always put himself in a position to drive the ball," one scout pointed out. "You rarely see him caught out in front and he's just hard to fool. He sees the ball so well and always seems in rhythm at the plate."
Hitters known for having great hands can usually have their success traced back to the work they're doing with their lower half. And that's exactly the case with Hosmer. He gets himself into a powerful position swing after swing, and he follows that up with that tremendous bat speed and close to unmatched extension through the baseball.
"He really might turn out to be one of the absolute best hitters in the game," the scout continued. "He just seems to do everything right up there and he has the physical gifts to go with that."
Most Royals' fans probably already knew just how good Hosmer has the potential to be, but seeing just how he gets it done should make him even easier to appreciate. He's the owner of a prototype swing and that stroke has the potential to make him one of the toughest outs in the game in 2012.