Eric Hosmer is quietly having a really good year at age 23

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Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had a very nice rookie season as a 21-year-old in 2011, but then dropped off significantly last year and continued to struggle early on this season. There were even jokes made when Team USA chose the former No. 3 overall pick to replace Mark Teixeira in the World Baseball Classic this spring.

However, after a rough first couple months Hosmer has turned things around in a big way by hitting .322 with 15 homers, 22 doubles, and a strong 50/32 K/BB ratio in 91 games since June 1. And he’s still just 23 years old, which is younger than many prominent rookies.

Overall he’s hit .302 with an .807 OPS in 141 games as one of just three under-25 first basemen (Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are the others) across MLB with at least 300 plate appearances.

Beyond this season, here’s a list of all the first basemen since 1990 to qualifying for the batting title at age 23 or younger while posting an adjusted OPS+ above 115: Hosmer, Freeman, Billy Butler, Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, John Olerud, Jeff Bagwell. That’s it. That’s the whole list.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.