Hoying impressive in debut summer

Outfielder Jared Hoying recently finished off an outstanding debut summer in professional ball, as he earned Northwest League MVP honors after batting .325 with 10 homers and 20 steals in 62 contests. Lone Star Dugout interviewed the 21-year-old prospect.

Coming into professional baseball, Jared Hoying had already earned a reputation for his success with wood bats.

The University of Toledo product flashed his talent in the Great Lakes Summer League last year, hitting .375 with four homers, eight triples, and a league-leading .750 slugging percentage.

Hoying wasted no time building on that reputation this summer. The Texas Rangers' 10th round pick earned Northwest League Most Valuable Player honors after batting .325 with 10 homers, 51 RBI, and 20 stolen bases in 62 games for the short-season Spokane Indians.

The 21-year-old's honor as the circuit's top position player was made all the more impressive by his slow start. In his first 10 professional games, he was 6-for-40 (.150) with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

As Hoying explains below, he quickly approached the Spokane coaching staff about overhauling his swing, which had never incorporated his lower half much at all. The changes paid off in a big way––he posted a .360/.416/.601 slash line through the remaining 52 games of the regular season.

Even after the strong campaign, the left-handed hitter realizes there is still room for improvement. He would like to improve on the strikeout-to-walk ratio, as he finished the debut campaign with 19 free passes against 70 punchouts in 267 plate appearances.

Hoying was also undergoing a major change in the field this summer. A shortstop through most of his college career, he moved to center late in the year with Toledo. He worked as Spokane's everyday left fielder this season. The prospect has some athleticism to go with raw arm strength, but he is still learning how to play the position.

While there is still plenty of room for development, Hoying offers an intriguing package of tools that includes raw power, bat speed, and speed on the base paths. He will spend the next month playing for the Rangers' Fall Instructional League team.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with the outfielder to discuss his performance and development with Spokane.

Jason Cole: What were your thoughts on your first summer in professional ball?

Jared Hoying: It was a great experience for me. Coming in, I didn't really know what to expect. But I played with a great bunch of guys and had a blast all summer––just going out and playing baseball all day. It really was a dream come true. That's what I expected––playing every day and just having fun with the guys.

Cole: On a personal level, how did you feel about your performance?

Hoying: I started off real slow and I was a little disappointed. But I got after it and made a few adjustments. Gradually, as the season went on, I got better and better. Eventually I got the MVP award, which was a real surprise to me. But yeah––I got my numbers up and it turned out that I had a real good season.

Cole: Tell me about winning the Northwest League MVP award. What does that mean to you?

Hoying: It means a lot to me. For my first professional season, my goal coming in was to bat .300 and hit a few home runs. I achieved all my goals and I was very happy about that. It really meant a lot to me. With all the hard work I put in, it's nice to get rewarded a little bit every now and then.

Cole: In college, you earned a reputation as a player that had success with the wood bat in summer circuits. Now you've continued to build on that as a professional. What is it about the wood bat that works with you?

Hoying: I don't know––just the feel of it. With metal bats, sometimes you almost think you're invincible. You swing and it doesn't matter––you don't concentrate as much. But with the wood, you've got to really concentrate and hit it on the sweet spot.

There is more technique to it and you need proper mechanics. For some reason, when I get that metal bat out of my hand and put a wood bat in there, it just forces me to concentrate more I think.

Cole: Tell me about some of the things you've been working on offensively this summer.

Hoying: Really concentrating on trying to hit gap-to-gap and staying up the middle more instead of always being pull-happy and trying to pull everything out of the ballpark. I'm trying to concentrate on taking that outside pitch and hitting it to left-center or up the middle. Just being more patient and trying to get the walk-to-strikeout ratio––get it to a better number. I've been striking out too much, but that will come with timing.

Cole: I know a lot of times the Rangers won't make adjustments on newly drafted players during their first summer. Have you made any adjustments or tweaks in your first season?

Hoying: I've changed a bunch. Coming into here, for my power, I really never used my lower-half much. And I really learned a lot in using my lower half. I actually changed my whole swing up from what I first had coming out here.

The hitting coaches out here were great. They really worked with me to use my lower half more and just kind of use my whole body instead of just my hands to swing.

Cole: How long did it take before they started making adjustments with you?

Hoying: The first couple weeks. It took about two weeks. I wasn't having very much success with the old style that I was swinging. I just went in one day and talked to them. I said, ‘It needs to be done.' They weren't going to do anything until instructs.

I was just getting frustrated and said, ‘Let's do something. Let's do something about it.' I worked hard in the cage and took a lot of extra swings. Eventually I got somewhat comfortable with it and the success was a lot better.

Cole: And how long was it before you were able to settle in with those adjustments?

Hoying: It took a good two weeks to really feel something different. And I'm still learning with it––the new swing and everything. It's gets better and better day by day. But it really took about two weeks just to get the feeling of it down––just to feel what I was doing wrong and right.

Cole: You're heading to Fall Instructional League next. How much are you looking forward to going there and continuing to refine what you've been working on all summer?

Hoying: Yeah, I'm looking forward to going there a lot. I'm going to be with a bunch of great coaches. I'm going to really be able to learn to break down my whole swing. I'm going to watch tape and take swing after swing after swing in the cage. I really want to learn the ins and outs of my swing.

Cole: After the full college season and getting close to 70 games in Spokane, are you beginning to tire mentally or physically?

Hoying: My body is a little bit. I tweaked my hamstring with about two weeks to go in the season. So they shut me down for a week. That really allowed my body to heal up. Mentally, that doesn't bother me one bit. But physically my body was getting worn down a little bit, but everybody is at the end of the season.

Cole: You were a shortstop through most of your college career before moving to center late this past season. You've been in left field just about every game with Spokane. Can you talk about that transition and what it has been like?

Hoying: It was a big transition. I had never played left before, really, in my entire life. It took some getting used to. But I took some balls in BP to get the right reads off the bat––the different spins on the ball. It took a lot of practice and extra work in BP to really work at it and get better.

Cole: I'm sure you'll also be working on your defensive game at instructs. What are some of the things you'll be focusing on in the field out there?

Hoying: Just continuing to work on getting reads. I really want to work on the arm slot, too. At shortstop, it's more of a quick arm motion. And in the outfield, you kind of have to stretch it out more. It's really fine-tuning a few things and getting out of the shortstop ways of throwing a ball. I think that's the big thing.

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