Remember back in 2013 when the Kansas City Royals surprised a lot of people and selected Hunter Dozier eighth overall in the MLB Draft? While people didn’t question that he had first round talent, they did question if he went a tad bit too early. He definitely didn’t help clarify any questions after two poor seasons in Double-A.
Now, however, he is seemingly rewarding the Royals for staying loyal.
Dozier was a shortstop in college, but nearly everyone was able to tell he would need to be shifted to third base to make it professionally. That being said, he looked like he had the makings of a solid power hitter, coming off a big junior season that saw him bat .396 and blast 17 home runs for Stephen F. Austin. One of the particularly attractive qualities appeared to be a sound plate discipline as he struck out 34 times, but walked 35.
His initial results made the Royals look like geniuses. Dozier came into his first half season in 2013 and destroyed Rookie level pitching. He slashed .303/.403/.509 and hit seven home runs, driving in 43 over just 54 games before earning a promotion to the Sally. The patience at the plate seemed to translate as well, as his combined strikeout-to-walk ratio over both levels was 37-to-38.
2014 saw a successful start to the season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in High-A, but Dozier made his promotion to Double-A in just his first full season seem a bit premature. He seemed lost at the plate, and with his minor flaws exposed it effected his 2015.
Most seem to think that Dozier’s down 2015 was because he was really pressing at the plate. After hitting just eight home runs the prior season over two levels, Dozier was seemingly forcing himself to re-find the power that got him drafted so highly. The end result was not pretty. He slashed .213/.281/.349 and that plate discipline that everyone fell in love with was gone. He struck out 151 times in 523 plate appearances (a career worst 29-percent) as well as setting a career low in walk rate, walking 45 times, just 9-percent of the time (the only time he had been under 10-percent in a season in which he had 100 at bats).
Enter 2016 and Dozier is a changed man. He finally figured out the Texas League, shredding a slash line of .305/.400/.642 to go along with eight home runs in just 95 at bats before finally earning his long-awaited promotion to Triple-A. Immediately it looked as if he was unprepared for the jump.
Dozier recorded one hit in his first three games in the hitter-friendly PCL. Since then, however, he hasn’t left any question marks as to whether he was ready. Currently, he is amid a nine-game hitting streak that has seen him drive in at least one run in five straight games. He’s batting .327 with four home runs with a 1.006 OPS through Friday in his Omaha debut.
For video analysis of his improved swing, projections of his big league arrival and more, head on over to Minor League Ball for the full story by clicking the link below: