Dozier is a solid athlete, having played quarterback at Denton High School in Texas. In 2010, senior year, Hunter hit .400 with 5 home runs.
Hunter accepted a baseball scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University, majoring in kinesiology.
In 2013, his junior year at SFA, he hit .396 with 16 home runs and became the highest drafted player in school history.
Dozier works hard at preparing for the game. His work ethic is exemplary.
June 6, 2013: Hunter was the Royals' surprise first-round pick, 8th overall, out of Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. He signed for $2.2 million, much lower than the assigned slot amount of $3,137,800. "I'm happy to go that high and super excited to be here," Dozier said.
Most had Dozier at between the 35th and 40th pick in the draft. Dozier was #40 in the final Baseball America rankings, and no prognosticator projected him to go nearly as high as No. 8. The commentators at the main desk during MLB Network’s telecast reacted with such shock that the daughter of one Royals official asked her father why the team picked Dozier. Local radio hosts called for the dismissal of Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore and the rest of his front office.
Hunter had always dreamed of playing in the big leagues. Now, he's a few steps closer after being selected eighth overall and signing with the club
With his parents, Kelly and Kelly, watching, Dozier received his No. 1 jersey before heading out to batting practice with the team prior to game against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. "You always want to see your kid's dreams come true, and you know as a parent it's not always going to happen," his father said. "You just keep telling them to keep working hard, keep working, keep doing everything right and good things will happen. When you see it actually happen, it is hard to explain."
The Doziers gathered with their extended family to watch the draft, and when his name was announced eighth overall, his mother said you could only describe it as a roar. "There was so much emotion, the tears," she said. "We've never been a part of something so amazing. There wasn't a dry eye in the house."
Mitch Thompson, the Royals' South Texas scout, was the first to really pay attention to Dozier, a Nacogdoches, Texas native, and who eventually signed him to a contract. "The physical tools and the physical body just jump off the field at you, to start with. You watch him play and watch him handle himself on a daily basis swinging the bat is always impressive," Thompson said. "He moves, he runs, he throws, he does a lot of neat things."
When Thompson's positive reviews made it to Kansas City, the club started further research and director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said everyone had the same reaction. "Everybody fell in love with him," Goldberg said. "They fell in love with the way that he played, his passion for the game, his makeup, the way he treats his teammates. We just fell in love with him."
Before the draft, Dozier and his father met with the Royals and really hit it off. Both parents compared the feeling to the confidence they had leaving him at a good college like Stephen F. Austin. "It was actually like they were asking us to please stay, but not just my family, it was everyone who was there," Dozier's dad said. "They just opened their arms and I was very impressed. After we left here, I said, 'Please, please, I want Kansas City to pick him.'" And the feeling was mutual.
"When Hunter and his father, Kelly, came in for the workout, I had the opportunity to sit down with them and talk to them about his vision and how he felt he had progressed as a player and his vision for his career, and it was a very, very easy sell," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "He was the kind of player that grabbed us, took a hold of us and he would have been somebody that if we weren't able to select, it would have been very disappointing."
Dozier grew up watching the Rangers and has tried to model his game after Michael Young, because of the way he mixes talent on the field and integrity off of it. Once you start to see deeper into the kid, he's All-American in every way, shape or form," Royals scout Mitch Thompson said. "Not only are you getting the baseball player that has the tools, but you get the person that you want to be around on a daily basis. Hard worker, diligent, great teammate. What a great kid."
Dozier also played quarterback during high school and he says that's where he learned how to be a leader. He learned how to work hard from his parents. His father is a pilot for American Airlines and his mother is a homemaker. (Gier - mlb.com-6/10/13)
In 2014, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Dozier as the 7th-best prospect in the Royals' organization. They moved him up to #5 in the winter before 2015 spring training, but dropped all the way down to #30 early in 2016. But he was back up to #3 in the spring of 2017. And he was 8th-best Royals prospect in the offseason before 2018 spring camp opened.
In 2016, Dozier was named MLB Pipeline's Royals Player of the Year.
Dec 21, 2018: Hunter Dozier, emerging as the Royals' third baseman of the future, always looks forward to Christmas. But he is really looking forward to Christmas next year. That's when Dozier and his wife, Amanda, will introduce their son, Bodhi, now just 15 months, to a Dozier family tradition: An all-out Christmas celebration.
"We'll do Christmas at my parents this year and then next year when Bodhi is a year older, we'll kind of replicate what my parents do at our place so he can really get a taste of it," Dozier said. The Christmas season has always been special for Dozier. Growing up in Denton, Texas, his parents, both named Kelly, always went all-in on the Christmas spirit.
"My parents were awesome about Christmas when I was growing up," Dozier said. "They just went all out. We'd open some gifts on Christmas Eve. Then open the rest on Christmas morning.
But what was really fun was my parents would get up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and put a trail of Hershey's Kisses from our bedrooms all the way to the Christmas tree. And they'd have half-eaten cookies laying out where Santa had come down the chimney during the night. And they put footprints of where Santa had come down from the chimney. It was really great."
And convincing. "I probably was in sixth or seventh grade before I found out Santa wasn't real," Dozier said. "My older brother [Devin] already knew but didn't say anything. And when I found out—I have a younger sister [Kenzie] —my parents made me promise not to ruin it for her. So I didn't."
Dozier can look back fondly on those childhood memories. His all-time favorite Christmas presents?
"Probably the biggest ones were when Devin and I got dirt bikes," Dozier said. "That was great. My dad was really into motocross. But usually it was anything hockey-related. I was big into hockey growing up. Hockey sticks, skates, stuff like that was always on my Christmas list."
Growing up in Denton, which is north of Dallas, Dozier didn't get to experience too many snowy Christmases, though that hardly hampered the mood. "We probably had about two or three white Christmases," Dozier said. "In Texas, you can get either 85 degrees on Christmas or 25 degrees and snow, or 35 degrees and sleet. But my favorites were the white Christmases. That just made it seem like what you see in the movies."
Even now, those Christmas movies make Dozier sentimental. His favorite is The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. But Hunter and Amanda record all Christmas movies when they can. And now they are eager to share their love of Christmas with Bodhi.
"I started dating my wife in high school and she didn't really experience the type of Christmases we had growing up," Dozier said. "So when she had one with us, she was blown away. She said, 'We definitely have to do this when we have kids.'" And they will. (J Flanagan - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2018)
Sept. 2017: Dozier and his wife, Amanda, had son, Bodhi.
Feb 4, 2019: Father-son duos have a prominent place in baseball history. From the Griffeys and Bondses to the current day where Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. reside atop prospect lists, baseball has shown a special propensity to run in the family. We may have gotten a glimpse into the next generation of father-son duos when Royals first baseman Hunter Dozier posted a video of his 18-month-old son Bodhi getting in some tee work out in the driveway.
If this is what young Bodhi is capable of before his second birthday, one would think it won't be long until he's putting swings on the ball that would even make his dad jealous. (E Chesterton - Cut4)
From the time Hunter was playing T-ball to now, as he continues to rip through the American League, he has always known he has the support of his mother, Kelly.
Even now, after every game, Dozier looks forward to an encouraging text from his mom. “She texts me after every game,” Dozier said. “She’s been doing that since college. She and my dad watch every game. She texts me after the game and says, ‘Way to go,’ or ‘Get ‘em tomorrow.’ She stays pretty consistent, which is pretty nice, whether I’m going good or not. It’s about the same text message whether I’m playing well or not.”
Throughout Dozier’s life, his mom has been there for support. “The best memories I have was the Travel Baseball where you’re traveling all the time,” Dozier said. “We would be in my mom’s van riding to games and my parents would pull out the bucket seats and put a TV up, and put blankets down, had snacks for us. She went all out. She always went all out. She was awesome.”
And that was nothing new. “She always put us kids first,” Dozier said. “I’m blessed to have my mom and my dad in my life. I know a lot of sons and daughters don’t have that.”
And what did Dozier get her for Mother’s Day? “Normally [I] send her a gift card,” he said. “She loves massages or going to the movies. And I call her.” (Flanagan - mlb.com - 5/12/19)
MLB.com asked Hunter a number of questions to "get to know" him. If you could eat one food or meal every single day, what would you eat?
"A good old-fashioned sandwich -- wheat bread, turkey, salami, pickles, cheese and a little mustard. I get tired of barbecue pretty quick after a while. I think I could eat a sandwich every day. I love sandwiches. It’s my go-to. If I’m not a fan of the food they provide for us, that’s my go-to -- a regular cold-cut sandwich," Dozier said.
Who do people confuse you with?
"Gordo [teammate Alex Gordon], all the time. When people want autographs, they’ll be yelling, “Gordo! Gordo! Gordo! Can you sign?” I’ll be like, “I’m not Gordo.” Or in Spring Training, I’ll run out there and they don’t see my number yet. They’ll start cheering, “Gordo!” Then they see who it is, and they’re like, “Oh, never mind.”
What is that one song you’re listening to right now?
"I don’t really listen to music that much. Is that weird? I like country music, I listen to a lot of country music, but I don’t have my headphones all the time like a lot of guys do. Before a game, I just get ready. I don’t need music to pump me up. But I do love music. If we did need music, I would play something, I just don’t have to have it. I love Texas country, so maybe something like Turnpike Troubadours or Cody Johnson."
If you could switch spots with an athlete from any sport, who would you want to play as for one game?
"Jamie Benn from the Dallas Stars. I’m a huge hockey fan. I grew up playing, love it. He’s my favorite player, so it would be cool to switch with him. I love hockey. I think it’s the ultimate team sport. Everything about it, it’s fast-paced. I just love it."
Speaking of other sports, did I see you wearing a Luka Doncic jersey after games?
"I am. A lot of us got basketball jerseys, and it became a thing. I’m from Dallas, a Mavericks fan. He killed it this year, Rookie of the Year, so I figured I’d support him if we were all getting basketball jerseys. I would say about 10 guys have basketball jerseys in here."
What would your talent be If you were to enter a talent show?
"I’m a pretty good at throwing darts. I have a dartboard at home in my house. We play when I have friends over. I do it just maybe in the offseason, I’m not like an avid dart thrower."
How many bull's-eyes would you hit out of 10 chances?
"Out of 10? I’d say, three or four." (Camerato - mlb.com - 8/21/19)
- 2019 Season:There was a time last offseason when some of the Royals fan base and even some in the media wondered if Hunter Dozier, a first-round pick in the 2013 Draft, would ever meet his expectations. But the Royals saw the potential shift toward the surface toward the end of the 2018 season when Dozier posted an .821 OPS in his final 27 games with nine doubles, three triples and four home runs. And Dozier followed that up in 2019 with a breakout year: an .870 OPS with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also tied for the Major League lead with 10 triples.
Most impressively, though, was Dozier’s improvement on defense at third base.
“There was a time [in 2018] when we really had no idea where we would play him,” former manager Ned Yost said. “We thought about right field or maybe first base. His defense just wasn’t good enough to consider him an everyday third baseman.
“But all of that has changed. His defensive improvement has been phenomenal. He’s a guy now who has the third-base job. He can still play some other positions, but he has grown into third base. There isn’t a play he can’t make now, and he’s making them. And he has gotten better through hard work.”
What went right?
Just about everything. Dozier, in his first full season in the big leagues, became a convincing middle-of-the-order threat for Yost.
“I think mentally I’m in a better spot,” Dozier said during the season. “I’m not so much worried about the results right now. I’m just trying to do the right things, have a good game plan, worry about the process.”
Then again, Dozier said he is certain his breakthrough season came as a result of not worrying much at all. Dozier has gained a reputation among Royals coaches as a video junkie, always examining his swing for flaws while also dissecting other hitters’ swings in search of potential improvements to his own swing.
Catching coach Pedro Grifol finally put an end to it.
“We actually had to ban him from the video room,” Grifol said, laughing. “He’s got a perfect swing, probably the most flawless swing on the team. He doesn’t need to mess with it. The more he messed with it, the less effective he was.”
Dozier admits that Grifol was right.
“I’m better when I go up there and think less about mechanics,” Dozier said. “I got to the point early in the season where I just went up there and tried to compete on every pitch. That’s all hitting is.”
What went wrong?
Not much. Dozier did miss three weeks in early June because of a thorax injury. And he struggled a bit when he first returned from the injured list.
But during a 37-game stretch from the beginning of August through the middle of September, Dozier hit.313 with a .972 OPS, including seven doubles, four triples and 10 home runs.
“It was important for me to finish strong,” Dozier said. “I think was able to do that.”
Dozier had plenty of monster games. But the one moment that stands out was on June 25 in Cleveland when he blasted his first career grand slam off Indians closer Brad Hand in the ninth inning, helping the Royals come back from a 6-3 deficit to win 8-6 before a stunned crowd at Progressive Field.
Dozier has solidified his hold as the team’s third baseman of the future, not just because of his breakthrough offensive season but also because he proved he can carry the load defensively.
“There are certain plays he can make now,” Royals infielders coach Mike Jirschele said, “that he wasn’t comfortable making a year ago. He’s got a long body so he’s had to learn how to get lower to the ground more quickly. He can charge balls now much better, he can make the pivot step to his left on tough hops, and overall, he’s much more accurate in his throwing. He has a very strong arm, a shortstop’s arm.” (J Flanagan - MLB.com - Oct 25, 2019)
|Birth City:||Wichita Falls, TX|
|Draft:||Royals #1 - 2013 - Out of Stephen F. Austin Univ. (TX)|
Dozier generates power at the plate. And he hits for average. He projects as a solid middle-of-the-order hitter, and scouts believe that many of his doubles will turn into home runs as he gains experience and learns to incorporate his lower half more consistently.
Hunter has plenty of raw power and proved he can hit the best fastballs, but he is susceptible to breaking pitches, which he struggled to identify and lay off.
He’s a hard worker with baseball acumen and should hit for better average as he learns to look for his pitch and identify it. And in 2017 he shortened his swing and improved his bat path.
With at least average bat speed, Hunter has the ability to turn on good fastballs and is also skilled at recognizing off-speed pitches early. He doesn't chase out of the strike zone.
He unleashes a quick, smooth, simple, righthanded swing that will produce a solid average and at least average power. He manages at-bats with strong plate discipline.
Dozier has a very advanced approach at the plate. He makes use of a slight toe tap as a timing mechanism before taking a balanced, short stroke best geared for line drives up the middle. Dozier always has demonstrated a good idea of the strike zone and an ability to draw walks.
All of that fell apart in 2014, after his promotion. He became pull-happy, overaggressive and began chasing poor pitches.
Hunter works counts to get a pitch he can hammer. He has an advanced feel for hitting, sorting out pitches early in the count to get into favorable situations, but he’s equally comfortable hitting with two strikes. He walks a lot and maintains an impressive on-base percentage.
The 2015 Season: When Dozier hit Double-A NW Arkansas, everything fell apart. When he became pull-happy, his swing became longer and caused him to collapse with his backside. He no longer had the timing or the rhythm he once had at the plate. Too often he's late on fastballs, which led him to start cheating with his hands and hips. This makes him an easy mark against off-speed offerings.
He actually opened 2015 with a double and home run in his first game, and then hit safely in seven of first eight games.
“And then I got into a little slump,” said Dozier, 24. “When the slump started, I think I was thinking too much. In my opinion, I was looking at video way too much, trying to change my swing, and trying to do something to fix it. For the whole year, I was just in my head, thinking more about mechanics than actually having an approach.”
Dozier led the Texas League with 151 strikeouts in 475 at-bats.
“The reason I was late on fastballs or swinging at bad pitches was because I was up in the box thinking about mechanics,” Dozier said. “I wasn’t thinking about what the pitcher was going to throw me. I didn’t have an approach. I didn’t put myself in a best position to be ready to hit. Basically, I was battling myself the whole year.”
Dozier went to instructional league to work with minor league hitting instructors Terry Bradshaw and Andre David.
“I got back to where my swing was in the past and got where I was more relaxed, where I could not think so much and just go out and compete,” Dozier said. “Just kind of to get my confidence back, get my swing going right going into the offseason. I felt like I had a really good offseason. I’m really excited about this year.” (Alan Eskew - Baseball America - 4/08/2016)
"Mechanically, I've tried to be a guy my whole life who gets his front foot down really early so I can see the pitch," he said late in May, 2016. "I thought if I could see the pitch early, then I'm better off. So I was playing around last year, trying to add more rhythm and trying to be more relaxed. The higher you move up, the harder the pitchers, and there's more breaking stuff, so I really felt I needed more rhythm in my swing. But when it wasn't working, I tried to fix it during the season, and mentally, that got me screwed up. That's why I worked on stuff this offseason—getting to an approach and sticking to it, so I didn't have to go through that again."
Result: a lot more hits and a lot more power.
2016 Season: Dozier had a great bounce-back campaign, finishing second in the Pacific Coast League in doubles (36) while posting 68 extra base hits between Double-A and Triple-A.
After poor timing and a lack of rhythm in 2015, Hunter went to instructional, focusing on shortening his swing and improving his bat path. He reworked his load, eliminating a drift in his hands that cocked his bat for his swing and replacing it with a shorter, more fluid load. Dozier cut his strikeout rate, hit for the best power of his career, and did a better job of using the whole field.
If he can stick with his newfound approach, he again projects to be an above-average hitter with average power. (Spring, 2017)
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Hunter had a career batting average of .228 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 381 at-bats.
Hunter's strong arm plays well at third base or shortstop. He is a solid hot sacker. His above-average arm is more than enough for the left side of the infield. And he does fine in right field.
At third base, Dozier has plenty of lateral range and an above-average arm that fits well at third base. He is rated as an average 3rd baseman, defensively, with a grade of 45 or 50 on the 20-80 scout scale.
He's not as good defensively in the outfield, but will improve with experience, if needed out there. (Spring, 2017)
A shortstop in college, Dozier shined on defense in the Texas League in 2014. He committed five errors in his first five games when he rushed his throws to first, but he settled down and committed just seven over his final 59 games. He moves well at third and has an above-average arm. He’s athletic.
He’s becoming more confident at positioning himself and deciding when to play up or back on hitters. His arm strength and accuracy improved after he fixed a tendency early in the 2014season to throw with a lowered front arm. (Spring, 2015)
In 2015, Dozier's defense has suffered along with his offense. He has become more mechanical with his hands. His arm has average strength, but below average accuracy. There is reason to believe the tools are still in there to be an everyday third baseman, but Dozier has taken two steps back in the past year and a half. (Spring 2016)
- In 2016, he played right field late in the year, after also playing first base. "I played shortstop all my life,” said Dozier. “Then (the Royals) moved me (after the draft) to third, and just this year I played some in the outfield and a couple of games at first. I’m starting to feel comfortable at first. It’s going to take a while to learn everything you need to learn (in the outfield). I’m trying to take it all in and learn the positions they want me to learn.
“I think the biggest thing at third base is that I’m used to going to get everything I can get. And at first base I have to know when I can go get those balls and when the second baseman can get it, because I have to cover first. Other than that, it’s really kind of the same as playing third base.”
Hunter's work day typically begins three or four hours before game time, when he positions himself at third base in an empty ballpark and challenges coaches to get a ball past him.
They slap baseballs in front of him, to either side and even behind him. Again and again. And then when he fields a ball, he’s challenged to make an accurate throw across the diamond.
On his way to attempting to be a great third baseman, the Royals have learned plenty about their emerging star. To Kansas City manager Ned Yost, this commitment to defense speaks volumes about Dozier’s emergence as one of baseball’s best players in the first two months of 2019.
“This kid shows everybody at 3 o’clock and takes extra grounders and [makes] extra throws,” Yost said. “He has developed into a very, very serviceable Major League third baseman. The improvement with his defense, I would have never guessed it.” (Justice - mlb.com - 5/6/19)
- Hunter is a near-average runner, but runs well for such a big guy. Stealing bases are not part of his game.
2009: Dozier was a high school junior when he broke a collar bone, costing him the season.
April 2-May 31, 2017: Hunter was on the DL with a torn left oblique. He missed 2 months. While on a rehab assignment at Class AAA Omaha, he found out he needed wrist surgery. He missed 2 more months. After having surgery and missing two more months, he went on another rehab assignment only to take a ball off the nose and suffer a fracture that also required surgery.
May 30-June 21, 2019: Hunter was pulled from the game with tightness in his right side, or 'right-sided thorax tightness', and won't play for a few days.
June 3, 2019: Hunter was on the IL with right side thorax tightness.June 11, 2019: Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier continues to make progress in his recovery from a thorax injury, and he appears close to being activated or being sent out on a rehab assignment.
“He’s making progress, but we’ll see,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Dozier said he had an extensive workout, taking grounders, hitting off the tee and doing sprints.
“This is the best I’ve felt since the injury happened,” Dozier said. “I feel like I’m there, but that’s not my decision. It’s up to the medical staff. But I feel really good.”