21 November 2011

2012 Top 25 Prospects: #5 L.J. Hoes

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Player: L.J. Hoes
Position: left field/second base
Ht/Wt: 6-1/185
B/T: R/R
Age at 11/2011: 21y8m
2011 level(s): Advanced-A Frederick; Double-A Bowie
2011 statistics: Baseball-reference; Minor League Central

Grades - Now (Future):
Hit: 40/45 (55/60)
Power: 40 (45/50)
Arm: 50 (50)
Defense: 45 (50)
Speed: 50 (50)
Feel: 45 (50)
Overall Future Potential: 48-54
Prospect Grade: B

*Click here for primer on Grades

3rd Round selection in the 2008 Draft, drafted out of St. John's College HS (Chevy Chase, Md.).

Physical Description:
Medium frame but bloodlines and body type to project some strength. Solid athlete, though lower-half can drag at times. Average runner.

Hoes is a natural hitter, utilizing good balance, quick hands and a compact swing. Already in possession of a strong core, Hoes continues to firm-up his physique and could be capable of fringe-average to average power in the future, with 2012 standing out as a potential "jump" year in power production (setting aside the pitching-friendly confines of Norfolk). The only real knocks that prevent him from projecting to a true plus hit tool are some tendencies for defensive at bats and an inability to consistently match swing plane to pitch plane. He can improve in both areas, but even if he doesn't he should make plenty of contact, work walks and hit for enough pop to keep pitchers honest.

Hoes was shifted out to left field upon arriving at Bowie. While Baltimore staff has indicated that they still view second base as a viable option for him, he will project as an outfielder until the organization decides to commit time to him at second base. A center fielder as an amateur, Hoes could provide average or a tick above-average defense in left, with enough footspeed to cover the gap, an adequate arm and solid feel. Further, he is worth at least a look in center field come March.

While the overall ceiling is lower, Hoes' hit tool may rank with Machado and Schoop. He shows easy command of the strikezone and the high level of comfort in the box that often belies a successful Major Leaguer. While a shift to a corner position traditionally puts more evaluative emphasis on the power tool, Hoes could get on base enough to provide solid value without hitting 20+ homeruns a year. That notwithstanding, the developing strength in Hoes' core and hands combined with his ability to discern pitches to drive could help him to realize a jump in power production as early as next summer.

Defensively, Hoes would clearly be more valuable as an up-the-middle glove. If the switch to left field proves permanent, however, he could still be capable of providing solid defense out of the seven-spot. Aside from the additional pressure on the bat, Hoes may need to do the little things on the bases to ensure that the total value package adds up to starter-quality.

Hoes will likely get knocked by a number of prospectors due to the position switch, but he so long as he continues to hit he will continue to get the benefit of the doubt here. 2012 should show whether the organization is interested in returning to the experiment with second base, or if Hoes is in left field to stay. To the extent he is stuck in the corner, he will look to prove he has enough pop to keep Triple-A and Major League arms honest, and that his success at Bowie wasn't simply a product of his .354 BABIP. With minimal growth, you can squint and see a Gerardo Parra-esque profile.

Ceiling: Average left fielder on first division team
Floor: 4th or 5th outfielder; bench bat
Projected: Fringe-average left fielder on second division team


Andrew said...

I think you're being very, very, VERY optimistic to suggest that a player with a career .090 ISO in the minors can be an MLB average corner outfielder.

I think it's much simpler: if Hoes could play second, he'd be a prospect. Since he can't, he's not.

Jon Shepherd said...

It certainly is much simpler to say that, but it would be negligent in terms of potential outcomes.

Very few things are black and white. Also, using career ISO for a 21 year old HS draftee...not the best use of that statistic.

Far from home said...

What I don't understand is why they haven't kept him on the position in the first place. It seems the O's are unwilling to put the time in with a fringe defender to make him better, when they would clearly have an heir-apparent, or a potential trade chip, if they would be willing to put the time in with this guy. I have no doubt he would be willing to put in the work on his defense if the team was willing to give him the time.
Also, the guy is about to be 22 and in AAA. There's no doubt that he could contribute more with the right education and guidance.

ajkmaryland said...

If for no other reason, I'm pulling for Hoes because he's a decent young man with a good upbringing. I've tired of boorish behavior and would prefer to see an earnest performer succeed.

Anonymous said...

St John's is in DC not maryland? FREDTERP