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Royals Year In Review: Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez Showed Growth At Respective Positions

Salvador Perez excelled at all levels played in 2011 and arrived in Kansas City ahead of schedule. While Eric Hosmer deservedly garnered much attention, recent draft pick Richard Espy from UCLA also showed hitting abilities over the summer with Idaho Falls.

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In the first part of a series reviewing the Kansas City Royals minor league system, we take a look back at the minor league system and revisit what happened throughout the year. This installment begins with catcher and first base, were the Royals saw three players eventually reach the major league for the first time. Coming up in order were Eric Hosmer, Manuel Pina, and Salvador Perez.

Starting with behind the plate, Salvador Perez played 79 games at Northwest Arkansas before earning a brief two-week promotion to Omaha. In just 12 games with the Storm Chasers he continued his hot pace, batting .333/.347/.500 before being called up to Kansas City to begin his journey as the everyday backstop. He certainly didn't disappoint, and actually exceeded expectations offensively, batting .331/.361/.473 in 39 games. He would also hit three home runs, along with 21 RBI. Noted for his arm defensively he would throw out 7 of 26 would be base stealers as well.

For this Perez qualifies as top Royals minor league catcher of the year, having played over half the season in the minors.

Pina earns the honorable mention as he hit .239/.365/.372 in 71 minor league games (68 with Omaha). Offensively he hit five home runs and 31 RBI. He also appeared in four games with Kansas City, picking up two RBI in 14 at-bats.

Moving to first base, Hosmer was absolutely raking in Omaha to the tune of .439/.525/.582 in 26 games before making his way down Interstate-29 for the remainder of the season. We all witnessed the abilities of the 21-year old as he would hit 19 home runs and drive in 78 runs while flirting with .300 for much of the season before finishing his first major league season at .293.

It would be too simple to give Hosmer the Royals minor league first basemen of the year award, but playing just 26 games in Omaha, we will bestow the honor to Richard Espy. Espy, the Royals 15th round draft selection this June out of UCLA, batted .318/.391/.489 for Idaho Falls this summer with seven home runs and 39 RBI. While Espy struck out 59 times, against walking just 20 times, he showed the ability to put the ball in play quite well for a catcher.

Look for more updates to this over the coming week, and continue to check out Royals Review for all things Royals.