When the Astros sent Bud Norris to Baltimore at last summer’s trade deadline, L.J. Hoes was one of the pieces that came to Houston in the deal. The 23-year old outfielder had played only three games in the majors but was considered to be “big league ready”.
Drafted straight out of St. John’s High School in the third round of the 2008 draft, the D.C. area prep star progressed steadily through the Orioles minor league system. He has put up consistent numbers while playing, on average, against older competition. Originally an infielder, Hoes made the transition to the outfield in 2011 and has played there exclusively over the past two seasons.
L.J. has hit for a decent average at every minor league level, culminating with a .304 mark at AAA Norfolk last season. Hoes also has above average speed and has been able to swipe a few bags here and there as well. His throwing arm is strong, but not always accurate. All in all, Hoes is the type of player that doesn’t excel in any category but is pretty good at a lot of different things.
Assuming that Hoes doesn’t experience an uptick in power, the skill set that he possesses suggests he profiles as an extra outfielder. But, on this team, Hoes could find himself competing for a starting spot this spring. I’d have to say his chances of breaking camp with the big league club are pretty good.
But Hoes still has minor league options remaining, meaning he can be sent to AAA without being run through waivers. Once George Springer is called up to play every day in the Astros outfield Hoes could be relegated to bench duty or sent to AAA Oklahoma City.