Excelling throughout the ranks of Minor League Baseball is not an easy task. The early flights, long bug rides, and cumbersome season has chewed up and spit out many professional baseball players along the way. Still, Jared Hoying of the Texas Rangers organization has endured, opening up eyes throughout his journey, to be one step away from the Major Leagues.
Hoying was born in the small town of Ft. Loramie, OH and took up baseball early on. As a teen, he received recognition in young-adult baseball tournaments that paved his way into Toledo, where he enjoyed a tremendous 2009 season, cracking top ten lists for doubles, total bases, RBI’s, and homeruns.
“I was just a small town kid,” said Hoying. “I grew up in a town of about 2,000 people and just always loved to play. I just kept playing, and everything just kind of fell into place. I had a great state legion tournament and that’s how I got seen. I ended up at Toledo, had a good career there. I just kept playing, and things worked out. That’s really the biggest thing, just moving forward.”
After a successful career in Toledo, Hoying was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft in 2010. His versatility, which includes speed and power, has steadily increased in the Rangers organization over the past four years. As a rookie in 2010, he led all hitters in the organization with a .325 average for the Spokane Indians, the short season affiliate of the Rangers. In parts of two seasons with Myrtle Beach, the Single-A affiliate, he averaged .261 before being called up midway through the 2012 season to Double-A Frisco. He started the 2013 season there in Frisco, and was hitting just .252, when he was called up to the Round Rock Express in Triple-A.
This season, Hoying is having a career-year for Round Rock. Spending most of his time in center field, Hoying has clubbed 26 bombs, 33 doubles, and 7 triples. The 25-year old easily surpassed his career-best of 13 homeruns, and should reach 30 by the end of the season; an impressive achievement for any ball player.
“I’ve always had the power,” said Hoying. “But I’ve cleaned up some things mechanically. Mostly, it’s the mentality. I’m trying to hit the pitch I’m looking for instead of trying to swing at everything. I worked out a bunch this offseason. It was a goal of mine to gain some weight and bulk up. I came into camp at 218 pounds, it’s the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m still agile to run, but also need to maintain that throughout the season. Towards the end of the year, you sort of taper down a little bit. It’s my fourth season now, so I’ve learned along the way. In prior years, I’ve felt worn down, but this year I feel great.”
Coupled with his small-town character, Hoying has benefited himself by keeping his head up to overcome the obstacles along his path in the minors. The rigors that accompany a long season under the hot sun create wear and tear on the body if not attended to properly.
“We get one off-day per month, so you’re all in on it,” said Hoying. “With travel in the Pacific Coast League, it gets a little tough at times. We have a lot of eight o’clock flights, so you get a lot of 5 am wake up calls. You’re in one city for four days, another for four, and it gets tough. But if you treat your body right, get enough sleep, and eat right you get used to it. Some people never do, but you just have to know what to expect.”
At one step away from fulfilling his dream of playing in the Major Leagues, Hoying has put himself in great position to be added to the Rangers roster once they expand from 25 players to 40 on September 1st. He currently leads the Express in hits, homeruns and RBI’s, and has added 18 steals to his resume this season. He’s participated in the midseason All-Star game, and has also won a few awards along the way. Still, Hoying will need to overcome a high strikeout rate to become a complete player.
“I strike out more than I should, but I attribute that to just learning,” says Hoying. “I have a lot better plate discipline than I’ve ever had. Just swinging at the right pitch, and not trying to force an at-bat. Take what the pitcher’s giving you, if he throws something you’re not looking for just take. I’ve learned so much this year mechanically, and discipline at the plate, there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll continue to improve.”
While both the Round Rock Express and Texas Rangers are currently out of contention, Hoying is continuing to excel. With a subpar performance by Rangers outfielders Shin Soo-Choo and Alex Rios this year, Hoying may receive the opportunity to audition for a Major League job in the coming weeks. I thoroughly enjoy watching ball players who can hit for power, and swipe a bag. In this generation of baseball, players need both attributes. Jared Hoying possesses the tools that, in my opinion, will earn him a call-up this week.