When New York Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira withdrew from the 2013 World Baseball Classic on Tuesday due to injury, it opened up a spot for young first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Hosmer, who was selected third overall in the 2008 MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals, was ranked as the No. 8 overall prospect by Baseball America before his 2011 rookie campaign. He proceeded to hit .293 with 19 home runs, 78 RBI and 66 runs in 128 games in 2011.
But after the 23-year-old's sterling rookie campaign, he fell off in 2012, hitting .232 with 14 home runs, 60 RBI and 65 runs in 152 games.
Hosmer is still considered a young player with a bright future, despite his sophomore slump. He has the tools to excel in the majors—we saw that in 2011. When Teixeira was forced to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic, Hosmer received an opportunity to show off his skills to the world and learn from some of the best players and coaches in the business.
Royals manager Ned Yost said, via ESPN:
It's playing with stars from different organizations. There's a lot you can learn in those types of situations, and it's a competitive tournament that's going to be watched by a lot of people, and it's played to win. There's a lot of benefits for a guy like Hos.
Former Yankees skipper and four-time World Series champion Joe Torre will be Hosmer's manager at the 2013 WBC.
As Hosmer noted, via the ESPN report, "When it comes to managing in baseball, that's one of the first names you think of."
This is a tremendous gift for a player just starting his MLB career. He'll get to learn from Torre and a USA roster that includes 15 All-Stars. It's one of those once-in-a-liftime opportunities that Hosmer has to take advantage of as he looks to rebound in 2013.
Not only will Hosmer be on the roster this year, there's a chance the left-handed youngster starts at first base. USA is dominated by right-handed batters. Also, nobody on the team primarily plays first base (although catcher Joe Mauer and utility infielders Ben Zobrist and Willie Bloomquist could fill in).
Sometimes life hands you gifts. It's what you do with them that counts. The 2013 season has started out on the right foot for Eric Hosmer.