KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have tried their best to shy away from making any comparisons of Nick Pratto, their first-round pick in the Draft in 2017, to another first baseman and former first-round pick, Eric Hosmer.But from the moment Pratto was selected, the comparisons nonetheless leaped out. Both were
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have tried their best to shy away from making any comparisons of Nick Pratto, their first-round pick in the Draft in 2017, to another first baseman and former first-round pick, Eric Hosmer.
But from the moment Pratto was selected, the comparisons nonetheless leaped out. Both were high school players drafted at 18 years old. Both bat left-handed and throw left-handed. Both were known as gap hitters with high defensive ceilings.
And like Hosmer was at the time, Pratto now is one of the top prospects at his position in all of baseball. In fact, Pratto is the No. 4 prospect at first base, per MLB Pipeline.
:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::
The top three are Tampa Bay's Brendan McKay, Colorado's Ryan McMahon and Arizona's Pavin Smith.
Pratto impressed the Royals in his first season as a pro. In 52 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League, Pratto slashed .247/.330/.414 with 15 doubles and four home runs and 10 stolen bases.
"We were very pleased with what he did," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. "We liked his swing and we liked his approach at the plate. He has a very good awareness of the strike zone, very advanced for his age."
Pratto's defense also caught the Royals' eyes.
"You know, we don't like making comparisons [to Hosmer]," Picollo said, "but it's really eerie how similar they are when you look at them defensively. Nick has soft hands, he has the footwork around the base, a strong arm. It's definitely a little eerie."
That would be high praise, given that Hosmer has accumulated four Gold Glove Awards -- only eight first basemen in history have garnered more.
The Royals would expect Pratto to start this season at Class A Lexington.
"We haven't set anything in stone," Picollo said, "but there's no reason he can't start there."
And if all goes well, perhaps Pratto will follow a similar path to the big leagues as Hosmer, who debuted by his fourth professional season.
"All players develop a little differently," Picollo said. "But certainly he has the skill set to move through the system quickly.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.