The ball is hanging in the Arizona sky, a white speck in a cloudless blue, hurtling into the distance. Did you see that one? It clears the fence in right-center and keeps going, leaving onlookers to gawk and guess. How far did that one go? Had to be 425, right?

Another pitch, and the same sound, a pure crack straight from Hollywood sound effects. This ball is moving in the opposite direction, a screamer toward left-center, a one-hopper against the fence.

Eric Hosmer recoils, loosening his muscles for just a second before returning to that familiar pose. Hands back, knees bent, bat pointing slightly back, ready to strike. It's a warm Arizona morning in early March, and the Royals will play a spring-training game in a few hours. But for now, they are here, taking a few hacks on the club's main practice field.

Hosmer looks at the pitcher. George Brett looks back at him. Batting practice continues.

In 2011, Eric Hosmer debuted as a rookie first baseman for the Royals, batting .293 with 19 homers and 27 doubles in 128 games. He was 21.

These are the numbers. And they are just the beginning.

Hosmer became just the fifth player in history to bat at least .293 with 19 homers and 27 doubles in his first major-league season by the age of 21. The others: Albert Pujols, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Orlando Cepeda.