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Wilmington's Eric Hosmer puts up healthy numbers in Carolina League

Myrtle Beach seems to have Eric Hosmer's number.

The Wilmington Blue Rocks first baseman mentions Pelicans hurlers Randall Delgado and J.J. Hoover by name, along with the rest of the staff, with keeping him "in check." Myrtle Beach pitching coach Kent Willis talks about scouting and luck.

"That's just the way it works out sometimes," Willis said.

Now, as the Pelicans and the rest of the Carolina League have discovered this year, everything is relative. Hosmer, the league's top hitter heading into today's California League-Carolina League All-Star Game, is batting just .333 against the Birds.

After a huge season-opening series in which he crushed Myrtle Beach pitching, he was a paltry .231 against the Pelicans during two May series.

Again, Hosmer hitting .333 is not bad considering the alternative. For a good chunk of the first month of the season, he flirted with .400.

Even now, midway through the year, he's batting .357.

About the only thing that was going to prevent him from being named to the Carolina League's all-star roster was a promotion in the Royals' organization to Class AA Northwest Arkansas. No one would have blamed Kansas City for making the change.

In his time in Wilmington all Hosmer has done is place himself in the top 10 in the league in batting average, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS. He's also shown good plate discipline by walking more than he strikes out.

For Hosmer, none of that would have been possible had it not been for an offseason in which he vowed to be in the best health of his life.

"I played almost every game in the first half. And I take a lot of pride in that," he said. "I had some injuries last year. You just decide you're going to work hard [during the offseason], and the good things will come out on the field."

Hosmer was the third player selected in the 2008 MLB draft, and the Royals and general manager Dayton Moore immediately had high hopes for their first-round pick.

But everything didn't come together right away. Hosmer and agent Scott Boras waited until one of the last possible minutes to sign with the organization, using Hosmer's scholarship to perennial college baseball power Arizona State as leverage.

Eventually, Hosmer did sign, and after splitting time between Wilmington and Class A Burlington in 2009, he is now making good on that draft status.

He's doing such a good job some publications have started weighing the option of Hosmer being the best of a group of Royals prospects that includes third baseman Mike Moustakas and pitchers Mike Montgomery and Aaron Crow, all of whom are making serious noise in the Royals' farm system.

Hosmer shrugs off that suggestion.

"Everyone in this organization talks about being teammates in Kansas City," he said. "It's a lot more guys than just these four guys who want to be called up. ... We all talk about [being called up to] Kansas City at the same time."

Whether that happens remains to be seen. For the time being, Hosmer plans on continuing his assault on Carolina League pitchers.

And trying to figure out those pesky Pelicans.

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