Jared Hoying posted solid numbers throughout his three-year career at the University of Toledo, but it was his performance with a wood bat last summer that really got him on the radars of professional teams.
In his sophomore regular season last year, the Ohio native batted .293 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs, and 50 runs batted in.
Despite exchanging his metal bat for wood over the summer, Hoying managed to improve while playing with the Grand Lake Mariners of the Great Lakes Summer League. The left-handed hitter batted .375 with four home runs, and he led the circuit with eight triples and a .750 slugging percentage.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect helped lead the Rockets to a 34-22 mark this year––the program's first winning season since 1999––and he was among the club's top power producers. Starting all 56 games, Hoying hit .289 with 18 doubles, 14 home runs, and 53 runs batted in. He also stole 13 bases in 15 tries.
A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Hoying moved from shortstop to centerfield late in his collegiate season, and he will likely play a corner outfield spot with the short-season Spokane Indians this summer.
The 21-year-old has already signed with the Rangers and reported to Spokane. He participated in the club's preseason home run derby on Wednesday night, placing second––with eight home runs––behind infielder Alejandro Selen, who hit 10.
Jason Cole: Give me your thoughts on going to the Rangers in the 10th round of this year's draft.
Jared Hoying: It's just a dream come true. It's always been my dream to first play Division I baseball, and that came true. It was another dream of mine to play professional baseball and get drafted, and getting drafted by the Rangers is a great honor.
Cole: Had you ever been drafted in the past?
Hoying: No, I wasn't drafted out of high school, so this is my first time being drafted.
Cole: Did you have any expectations going into the draft?
Hoying: Going into it––I had a real good summer, and after the summer, scouts were projecting me in the top five runs. I didn't have the best of springs––not as good as I would've liked––and my agent was saying between six and 10. He was right on the money at 10.
Cole: Who was your Rangers area scout out there?
Hoying: Roger Coryell. He used to coach up at Eastern Michigan, and I actually had a buddy who graduated high school with me––he went up to play for Eastern Michigan with him for one year. He resigned and then became the Rangers scout, and he has been there since day one. He's the one I've always been in contact with.
Cole: So going into the draft, you thought there was a good chance the Rangers would be selecting you?
Hoying: Yeah, they showed the most interest throughout the spring, too.
Cole: Were they on you very much throughout the summer?
Hoying: No, I was really unknown over the summer. I just kind of had a breakout summer. That's when my name got out there for everybody.
Cole: Tell me a little more about that summer, in the wood bat league.
Hoying: I played for the Grand Lake Mariners in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League––a wood bat league. It's just one of those deals where it clicked. I kept hitting––I think I hit .375 over the summer, and I had like a .750 slugging percentage. I hit four or five home runs. Everything just felt good that summer.
Cole: Had you ever gotten much experience with a wood bat before that summer?
Hoying: Every summer––my freshman summer, we played with wood bats too. I played for the Licking County Settlers of the Great Lakes League also. Pretty much every summer, everybody from our college team plays in a wood bat league somewhere.
Cole: What is behind your success with the wood bat? A lot of college hitters struggle with the transition, especially at the beginning.
Hoying: Honestly, I think it's because the wood bat is a little bit heavier. Sometimes the metal bats––they feel a little light and I feel like I can just whip those around so hard. Whereas a wood bat, I have to more or less use my hands and stay through the ball more. I don't know if it's just a mind thing or what, but it just feels better with a wood bat, which I guess is a good thing now.
Cole: How'd you feel about your junior campaign at Toledo?
Hoying: I had high expectations coming in. They might have been a little too high, but for me, I thought I'd accomplish them. I started off real slow. Our spring trip down there in South Carolina was brutal. I think I hit only about .150 down there.
I slowly kept grinding and one weekend, I think I hit seven home runs in four games. I was just on a tear for a good three weeks to a month, and then I got my average back up there.
At the end of the season, I didn't finish off as well as I would've liked. The season was a bit up and down, but overall, I was pretty happy with it.
Cole: Leading up to the season and early in the year, how much of a problem is weather and being able to play outdoors in Toledo?
Hoying: That's the worst part about playing at a school up north. My first time taking live BP or ground balls outside was our first game down in South Carolina. All our preparation was done indoors, and it's just hard.
It's tough compared to being from a southern school. They practice all that time outside and get all those reps outside, which is just a huge difference.
Cole: Obviously there's a big difference, but just how much of a difference is it between taking BP indoors versus seeing live pitching suddenly?
Hoying: Just the way you see the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand. You don't have the black screen or a building behind you, where you can see a little better. You can't take flyballs or anything indoors, so it's hard to pick up and judge. Taking ground balls on dirt and grass––that's another element you have to get used to again.
Just being on the field. Just being out on the field compared to being indoors, where the preparation is just kind of, ‘Alright here's a makeshift field. Here's second, there's first, there's third, and there's home.' You just get in position where you think it would be at and stuff like that. The element of being outside and having so much space is huge.
Cole: How'd you feel you improved in your overall game throughout your three years of college baseball?
Hoying: I come from a real small town of only 2,000 people. I never really had hitting instructors, fielding instructors or anything like that––I just went out and played with my dad in the backyard. We had a batting cage in the woods, and that was pretty much all of my practice.
Then just playing American Legion ball and high school ball and stuff like that. I only played probably 30 games in the summer, whereas some people play 60 or 70 games in the summer and in high school and stuff like that. So I was pretty raw when I came into Toledo.
I also played basketball in high school, and I really spent a lot of time on that too. Coming into Toledo, I had to concentrate all my efforts on baseball and just improve. I kept growing, and I'm still growing now. I haven't peaked yet by any means.
Cole: What's your approach at the plate like? When you're up in the batter's box, what are you trying to do?
Hoying: When I get up to the plate––when I'm on deck, I just watch the pitcher. I study the pitcher and think of situational things. When I get up to the plate, I just get up there and say, ‘See it and hit it.' I try not to worry about anything else and try to hit the ball square and just try to make solid contact. I just keep telling myself to see it and hit it and not worry about anything else.
Cole: Have you been a shortstop through your three years of college ball?
Hoying: Yeah, I've played shortstop since probably little league. Back when I was in third or fourth grade, and I played shortstop all the way through college until we actually switched.
I moved to centerfield for a few games––probably the last quarter of the season, I played centerfield. Team-wise, our centerfielder was struggling and I was struggling a little bit at shortstop, so for the team, it worked out phenomenal for us. But I've been a shortstop since I can remember.
Cole: The Rangers listed you as a shortstop when they drafted you. Do you expect to stay at short in pro ball, or do you think you might move to the outfield?
Hoying: I'd love to stay at short. But most people I've talked to say I will move to third or right field or centerfield possibly. I'm athletic enough to play really any position. I don't have a very good clue of where they'll put me, but wherever they do put me, it'll be fine with me.
Cole: You've already signed with the Rangers. Can you talk about what went into that decision to pass up your final season of collegiate eligibility?
Hoying: Yeah, I've already got my contract on the way. I talked to my agent and the area scout. It wasn't really an option to come back to school. School is always there, and this is a once in a lifetime deal. As a junior, you have a little more leverage, so that always helps too. I'm looking forward to being a Texas Ranger.
Cole: As you look ahead to your first professional season, what parts of your game are you looking forward to perfecting with pro coaches?
Hoying: I'm looking forward to just keep playing. I love the game, and I just want to play and play every day. I want that to be my life and my job––baseball. I've worked so hard in my three years at Toledo to get to where I am now, and just being able to work even harder and gain more knowledge is great. I can't wait to just keep playing.
Q&A with Rangers 10th Round Pick Jared Hoying
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