Terry L. Hose Jr. started 15 games for the Yakima Bears last year after starting 51 in his four years at East Carolina University. Hose was solid at Yakima, striking out 57 batters and walking 20 in 78.1 innings on route to a 4-5 record and 4.48 ERA. But for an undersized, low-round draft choice, that wasn't the kind of performance that opens a lot of doors.
"Going into the draft, I knew I wasn't going to be a high draft pick," Hose told FutureBacks. "I just wanted to get my opportunity, make the best of it, and hopefully keep succeeding."
The Arizona Diamondbacks gave him that opportunity, much to Hose's surprise.
"I had about five or six teams that I was in contact with before the draft, Hose revealed. "It was funny; I didn't talk to the Diamondbacks all year, just during the draft. You know how things work with the draft; it's unpredictable. They called me after the 35th round and said, 'do you still want to continue to play professional baseball?' And I [replied], 'yes, sir, without a doubt.' They gave me my opportunity, and I'm thankful for that."
Hose pitched well enough between his time at Yakima and his first spring training to earn a roster spot on the South Bend Silver Hawks this April. It did not hurt that as a four-year college player, Hose had age and experience to impart to a very young Silver Hawks squad. He did not get the spot in the rotation that he had been after, however.
"I had a chance to be a starter, but it fell through," Hose said. "I actually got recruited out of high school to go to East Carolina as a closer. I converted to starter halfway through my freshman year. It's not that big of a difference. Mentality-wise, you've just got to be a bulldog out there, go out and compete, and get your team in the best shape to win the game."
T.J. Hose has done that and more out of the bullpen so far this season. He has fanned 14 batters in 15.2 innings while only allowing just two earned runs. That's good for a 1.15 ERA. Hose has the unusual distinction of having saved three games despite having pitched only one ninth inning, since he earned saves in two doubleheaders, which only run seven frames each game in the minors. Still, Hose has done his best work in the seventh inning and later, having allowed only two hits and one unearned run over nine such innings.
"Right now, they told me that I'm the seventh- and eighth-inning guy," confirmed Hose, who has not allowed an earned run in nearly a month. The Diamondbacks tend to rotate minor league bullpen roles frequently throughout the season, so Hose might get a crack at closing before he advances to the next level.
Advancing one level from Yakima to South Bend obviously hasn't caused Hose any problems so far, although he has noticed that Midwest League hitters do have some qualities that are lacking among many Northwest League batters.
"I think they're just a little bit more patient," Hose said of the opponents that he is facing this year as compared to last. "I guess as you progress through the minor league system, they get a little better, get more patient, and are looking for their pitch to drive."
Despite their patience, Hose has only walked four batters so far in his 15.2 innings of work, and never more than one in an outing. He had an aggressive pitching mentality even before the Diamondbacks' developmental staff began preaching their mantra to him.
"That's the secret to success: pound the strike zone," Hose confirmed. "You see guys that continue to fall behind and that's what gets them into trouble. If you continue to pound the strike zone, I think that's where you get success."
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Hose's success this year has been his performance against left-handed batters. They are 3-for-23 with no extra-base hits against him so far. They key to those numbers has been his changeup, which he has continued to throw regularly along with his fastball and slider despite shifting to a role in which he rarely faces a batter twice in one game.
"I think that's been one of my better pitches thus far this season," Hose said of his changeup.
Even though spots have opened up in the rotation since the start of the year, Hose is likely to continue to work in relief for now simply because he has excelled in the new role. With three solid pitches at his disposal, however, he could find himself starting again before long.
"Nothing is set in stone," said Hose. "I'm just happy to be here, and whatever opportunities come up, I just try to take full advantage of them."
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