Royals calling up top prospect Eric Hosmer

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It’s certainly a few weeks earlier than they preferred to do it, but the Royals revealed Thursday that they’re calling up Eric Hosmer to take over as their first baseman.

Kila Ka’aihue, who was hitting .195/.295/.317 with just six RBI in 82 at-bats, is getting sent down to open up a spot.

Hosmer was tearing up PCL pitching, hitting 439/.525/.582 with three homers for Omaha. He had a 16/19 K/BB ratio in 98 at-bats, and he was even 3-for-3 stealing bases.

The 21-year-old Hosmer was selected third overall in the 2008 draft out of a Florida high school.  He started slow and batted just .241/.334/.361 with six homers in 434 at-bats for two A-ball teams in 2009, but he blossomed last year, hitting .338/.406/.571 with 20 homers between high-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.  That led the Royals to promote him to Triple-A to begin this year, and his remarkable first month followed.

As discussed here last week, the Royals didn’t want to go to Hosmer so early because doing so means he’ll surely be eligible for arbitration after 2013 if he stays in the majors.  Promoting him now figures to cost the Royals several million dollars over the next seven years, since he’ll be eligible for arbitration four times, rather than the usual three.

The Royals, though, are trying to rebuild a fanbase, and it didn’t look like Hosmer had anything left to learn in the minors.  Calling him up now figures to put some extra fannies in the seats, and the Royals could sign him to a long-term deal at some later date to mitigate the salary damage.  Credit the franchise for making the move rather than waiting the extra month.

As for Ka’aihue, well, he had what was probably his one big chance and failed to take advantage.  At 27, he’s not necessarily going to be buried for good.  The Royals, though, won’t have any further need for him if Hosmer can establish himself.  Japan might be his eventual destination.

U.S. Court of Appeals affirms ruling that the minor leagues are exempt from federal antitrust law

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The Associated Press reported that on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court ruling which holds that the minor leagues are exempt from federal antitrust law, just like the major leagues.

In 2015, four minor leaguers sued Major League Baseball, alleging that MLB violated antitrust laws with its hiring and employment policies. They accused MLB of “restrain[ing] horizontal competition between and among” franchises and “artificially and illegally depressing” the salaries of minor league players.

The U.S. Court of Appeals said the players failed to state an antitrust claim, as the Curt Flood Act of 1998 exempted Minor League Baseball explicitly from antitrust laws.

This case is separate from the Aaron Senne case in which Major League Baseball is accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. That case was recertified as a class action lawsuit in March. In December, Major League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC), which came months after two members of Congress sought to change language in the FLSA so that minor league players could continue to be paid substandard wages.

Rockies place Carlos Gonzalez and Tyler Anderson on the disabled list

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The Rockies announced on Monday that outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and pitcher Tyler Anderson were placed on the 10-day disabled list. The club activated reliever Chad Qualls from the disabled list and recalled reliever Jairo Diaz from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Gonzalez, 31, is dealing with a strained right shoulder. He’s in the midst of his worst season, batting .221/.300/.348 with six home runs and 20 RBI in 277 plate appearances. Gonzalez is a free agent after the season and has been commonly brought up in trade discussions, but his latest injury and underwhelming season will make it difficult for the Rockies to get anything meaningful in return this summer.

Anderson, 27, has inflammation in his left knee. He dealt with a knee problem earlier this season, so the injury seems to have been reaggravated. The lefty has an ugly 6.11 ERA with a 63/23 K/BB ratio in 63 1/3 innings this season.

Qualls, 38, went on the disabled list earlier this month with back spasms. He had previously been dealing with forearm inflammation, so it’s been a rough year for the veteran. He is carrying a 4.60 ERA with a 9/5 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings.

Diaz, 26, hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2015. He has appeared in only eight games at Triple-A as he opened the season on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. So far, Diaz has allowed three earned runs on seven hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.