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2019 MLB Draft prep: A look at Kody Hoese

Here’s someone who might be a good fit for the Cubs’ No. 1 pick.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

This past Tuesday night, I was more interested in college baseball than the Cubs game. About 8:30, Tulane played Central Florida with interest being Kody Hoese (which rhymes with rosy). Hoese has been a ‘needle-up’ performer the last two months at Tulane, and I figured I needed a real look at him in a game. As such, a Hoese conference tourney review was what I wanted.

Hoese entered the AAC tourney with 23 homers on the season, and a .425 ISO. UCF’s starter, Chris Williams, is a fifth-year senior with moderate numbers that may be worthy of a low-five figure signing bonus. Hoese batted second, and watched a first pitch strike with nobody on. The second pitch was outside, and he spit on a low and inside slider. The fourth pitch caught too much plate, and Hoese drilled a single to left. He scored when the next hitter homered.

The second inning saw Central Florida with a runner on second base and an out. A hopper to third was a bit more similar to than different from the clincher in November to Kris Bryant. Hoese’s throw was a bit sidearm, on target, and without a slip. His next plate trip saw a liner to the opposite field in right for another single. So far, so good.

In the fourth inning, a right-handed hitter challenged Hoese to the foul line, but Hoese showed range, and the throw was strong and textbook. On his two early chances, he represented being a scratch defender, initially. With a fourth inning appearance, he was down 0-2 after two pitches. Hoese fouled the first pitch back, and the second was the pitch Tom Glavine often sought. After three relatively easy takes, Hoese fouled full-count pitch with an emergency hack. He walked on the next pitch.

In the road fifth, he lacked the range glove-side to make a play the shortstop cashed. A seventh-inning glove-side chance resulted into a (sidearm-ish) errant throw. It was an error he likely makes in two years without a problem. A seventh-inning trip was initiated with five outside pitches. Two were called strikes, and the sixth was just inside enough to force deep foul contact. The next pitch jammed Hoese for an incidental strikeout.

One game tells me he can hit line drives either way, has legitimate power, and should take walks with break-even defense. Give me that in a 6-4 package, I’ll take my chances on him being a useful 27th overall pick. Tulane 5, Central Florida 2.

After Wednesday night off, Tulane played Cincinnati in a winner's bracket matchup. As usual, Hoese batted second, playing third base. In the first inning, he popped up a 1-0 curve to the catcher. In the second, a fly to right field sent a Bearcats runner to third. Hoese faked tossing the ball to the pitcher, trying to set up the hidden ball trick. The third base coach sniffed it out.

On a 3-2 pitch in the third, he swung through a high fastball. He'd later get rung up on a checked swing call that looked a bit suspect. He drew a walk, lined another single, and made an error on a 5-4 force throw.

My take on watching two games rather carefully is that he has a good idea of the zone, hits it well when he times one up, but will take longer than Kris Bryant or Kyle Schwarber to debut at the MLB level. Hoese should be a MLB starter, but may need to adjust every step of the way. Bearcats 8, Green Wave 4

Defensively, as offensively, he'll require work. The joy of contemporary MLB camps is that opportunity to improve is only limited by the student. If Hoese is pot-committed to getting better, I'd welcome him with the 27th pick. If he doesn't want to work that hard, take someone else. Scouting is more than seeing what's visible. There's also a heaping portion of assessing the likelihood of what isn't.

Hoese has holes, but the power is real. Mocks are placing him in the 27 range, with enough rumor and innuendo to get me to think the team has interest. He would probably be MLB-ready early in the the 2022 season, give or take. He grew up a Cubs fan, whether that matters or not.

Tulane has at least one conference tournament game left. The pitching in the American Athletic is a bit inconsistent. He will need adjusting to levels, whoever drafts him. If you have questions, ask them below.