When the Baltimore Orioles selected pitcher Jim Hoey out of Rider University in the 13th round of the 2003 draft they weren't sure how to best utilize his assets. Since then, the 24 year old right-hander has made it a no-brainer for the organization.
Last season, Hoey traveled up the minor league depth chart en route to collecting a combined 33 saves in stints with Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie. While dominating opposing batters in both Single-A and Double-A, Hoey posted 73 strikeouts in only 51.1 ip. After a more than impressive 2006 campaign and amassing 14 saves this year with Bowie, Hoey got the nod to join triple-A Norfolk on June 1st.
"I haven't had to make too many adjustments here in Triple-A," Hoey told Inside The Warehouse. "They are veteran hitters and have a little more experience; that's it. They aren't going to chase one or two sliders in the dirt; they are going to wait for their pitch. I have just been doing the same things from Double-A in Triple-A."
Hoey was rewarded by being named the Organizational Pitcher of the Year and was called up to the big leagues in September, but his stay was short lived.
"For the first three hours, it was nice and then you get in the game and it makes it not so nice after the game. I think, when I was out there, I wasn't going after hitters the way I have been here."
Hoey was called on once again by the Orioles earlier this year and again the results were not reflective of his potential. In two-thirds of an inning, the right-hander walked two, gave up one hit and surrendered three earned runs.
"I think the whole big leagues scenario got into my head a little bit. They wanted me to come down here to get more innings and lengthen me out a little bit. They would like to see me go from a one inning guy to two-or-more inning guy."
With the Tides' closer position being more than adequately occupied by Cory Doyne, who recently became the Tides' single-season saves leader, Norfolk has forced Hoey into an unfamiliar role set-up role.
"I have had to make a lot of adjustments. I like to sit and watch the game in the dugout before I go into the bullpen. Before, I used to be able to go into the bullpen in the seventh inning, because I knew I would be going into the game in the ninth. Now, I have to go down to the bullpen in the fifth to get ready, and look upon the situation, and be ready to go in based upon what happens. I have actually gone in a couple of times in the 6th inning this year and that's something I've never done before."
Things have not always gone as smoothly for Hoey throughout his career as they have unfolded this year. Just a half dozen pitches into his 2004 campaign, Hoey felt his arm unravel. The prognosis wasn't good and he would be on the DL for quite some time following Tommy John Surgery.
Even in 2006, as the latter stages of the season wore on, Hoey's powerful arm began to fatigue.
"At the beginning of the year, at spring training, I had the same thing. I had the same problem and I guess it never went away. I was rehabbing like crazy and it's feeling better now than it ever has before. I feel like I could throw everyday. Before now, there were days when I wouldn't even throw in warm-ups because my arm had had too much. It's a good feeling not to be sitting on the bench and on the DL."
In his last 14.2 ip Hoey has allowed only 6 hits, with an ERA of 0.61 with 18 strikeouts.
"I want to get back to the big leagues and prove to myself that I can stay there. It's not in your stuff; it's all about the mental side of it".
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