Patient is the perfect word to describe Houston Astros’ outfield prospect L.J. Hoes. The former third round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, has shown an uncanny ability to work an at-bat. Even as an 18-year old rookie fresh out of high school, Hoes managed to draw more walks than strikeouts. I don’t have to be the one to tell you that type of plate discipline is very uncommon at the rookie ball level.
Hoes’ patience at the plate dates back to his high school days at St. John’s in Washington D.C. There, the importance of waiting to get a pitch to hit was ingrained repeatedly. “I just take it one pitch at a time,” Hoes stressed, “You need to be o.k. with pitches being called strikes and waiting for a pitch to hit.”
So far, in eight minor league seasons, that patient, measured approach has worked wonders for L.J. Hoes. Hoes holds a career .288/.369/.385 batting line. In 706 career minor league games, he has walked 314 times and struck out only 432 times. The speedy outfielder has also stolen 98 bases. Perhaps more impressive, Hoes has his highest batting average at any level at Triple-A, the hardest level of minor league baseball. In 244 career games at Triple-A, Hoes has a .305/.393/.410 line.
The 2015 season has been a career year so far for L.J. Hoes. In 29 games for the Fresno Grizzlies this season, Hoes has a .346/.431/.505 line, and has walked 14 times against 15 strikeouts. His 12 doubles put him on pace to shatter his career high. Hoes has also thrown in five stolen bases to boot.
“I’m really not trying to do too much,” Hoes said when asked about his hot start, “I just go out there, play baseball, and have fun.” It sounds simple, but Hoes cites becoming a more relaxed player as the greatest change in his approach to the game of baseball since turning professional out of high school.
“You can’t get too high or low with this game,” he said, “I just take it one day at a time.”
While these types of quotes may sound cliched, when coming from a man who has actually lived the daily grind of a professional baseball player, they ring true. The game of baseball is an incredibly different game to play. In it, you can only control your own results. Anything beyond that is out of your own control.
In his career, L.J. Hoes has done his best to control his own results — being patient at the plate, waiting for the right pitch, staying calm on the field — and is now starting to see the results as he waits for another chance to take the field as a Major Leaguer.
Hoes got the chance to be a part of the 2012 resurgence in Baltimore. Now, he hopes to have the same chance later in the season with the surprising first place Astros. Hoes got a brief return to the Majors in April, and it left him hungry for more.
“I’m patient and waiting for the opportunity at the next level,” he said, “All you can do is go out there everyday and show that you’re ready for the call. Really, I just want to go out there and help. Hopefully I can go up there and help be a part of helping the Astros win a World Series.”
Patience is indeed a virtue, and it is one that has helped propel L.J. Hoes to some very good minor league numbers. Now, he patiently waits for another chance to show what he can do at the Major League level. If he continues producing as he has so far this season, that chance will come.