Over the last month, Jared Hoying has emerged as one of the top position players on a Spokane Indians club that leads the Northwest League in hitting.
This year's 10th-round selection, Hoying signed for $85,000 shortly after the draft and batted cleanup in the Indians' opening-day lineup.
The University of Toledo product got out to a slow start, hitting just .178 (8-for-45) with one walk and 13 strikeouts in 11 June contests.
But things have since turned around in a big way. Hoying played in 27 games this past month, hitting .354 with four doubles, six homers, 10 walks, and 13 stolen bases.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect is athletic and has some natural tools. He played shortstop for most of his three-year collegiate career before moving to center field late this season. Hoying has been the everyday left fielder with Spokane, and he figures to remain in the outfield.
According to Baseball America, scouts were far from sold on Hoying's swing mechanics in the months leading up to the draft. However, he did have a track record of success with the wood bat, as he topped the Great Lakes League with a .750 slugging percentage last summer.
The downside to Hoying's game thus far has been the strikeouts. Even in his successful month of July, he whiffed 30 times in 99 official at-bats. He has been working on his swing with Indians hitting coach Brian Dayett.
The 21-year-old's natural tools (including athleticism, bat speed, and arm strength) and strong early results have made him an intriguing prospect––particularly if he is able to make the necessary adjustments.
Honorable Mention: Mitch Moreland (Oklahoma City), Engel Beltre (Frisco), Chris Gradoville (Bakersfield), Jared Bolden (Hickory), Clark Murphy (Spokane), Teodoro Martinez (AZL Rangers), Hanser Alberto (DSL Rangers)
Pitcher of the Month: Randol Rojas, RHP, Spokane
Right-hander Randol Rojas has responded to the aggressive short-season Spokane assignment by leading the league with a 2.38 earned-run average.
Despite having no prior state-side experience, the 19-year-old impressed the Rangers in Spring Training this season. He continued to excel while working as a starter at Extended Spring Training.
Rojas posted a 3-1 record with a 1.67 ERA during six July starts. He logged 32.1 innings, allowing 27 hits, walking four, and striking out 15.
The Venezuela native joined the Rangers organization in late-2008 after signing for an extremely modest bonus of less than $5,000.
Rojas quickly proved to be a bargain, as his debut season ended with Dominican Summer League co-Pitcher of the Year honors. He logged an 8-0 record with a 0.80 ERA and just six walks in 67.1 innings.
The hurler entered his first campaign with low-to-mid-80s velocity, but he was sitting in the upper-80s by the end of the year as he gradually built up arm strength.
Rojas now throws his sinking fastball between 89-91 mph with above-average command. The pitch has helped him log nearly two groundouts per flyout on the season.
His mature 76-79 mph curve projects as an above-average pitch––a legitimate swing-and-miss offering. The late-breaking pitch is both deep and sharp. He also flashes advanced feel for an 80-82 mph changeup.
Rojas may not have a particularly high ceiling, but he possesses advanced stuff and command for his age. He has the potential for three solid pitches and could move through the system relatively quickly.
Honorable Mention: Michael Kirkman (Oklahoma City), Ryan Tatusko (Frisco), Mark Hamburger (Bakersfield/Frisco), Johan Yan (Hickory), Miguel De Los Santos (Spokane), Geuris Grullon (AZL Rangers), David Perez (DSL Rangers)
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