Astros: Morgan Ensberg Says James Hoyt Is Best Pitcher

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Mar 16, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher James Hoyt (65) throws a pitch during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher James Hoyt (65) throws a pitch during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Former Astros slugger Morgan Ensberg thinks James Hoyt is the best pitcher in the organization.

Morgan Ensberg, the former Astros player, and minor league coach is saying highly complimentary things about Astros minor league pitcher James Hoyt. Ensberg has tweeted several times recently about the Astros #20 prospect, who is the closer for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.

“Woke up this morning to see if anything changed,” tweeted Ensberg on June 23. “Nope, James Hoyt is still the best pitcher in our entire organization, including MLB team.”

Ensberg, who spent seven years with the Astros and was a big part of the 2005 World Series team, has worked for the Astros as a Minor League special assignment coach. He also co-hosts MLB Roundtrip on SiriusXM radio.

Hoyt, now 29, was not drafted in 2011 after a poor senior season at Centenary College of Louisiana. When it appeared his baseball career was over, he went to work as a deckhand on a sailboat in San Diego. Later, after playing for several Independent League teams and then in the Mexican League, the Atlanta Braves took a chance in 2012 and signed him for $500.

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Hoyt was acquired in 2015 by the Astros as part of the Evan Gattis trade. He appeared in 47 games that year for the Grizzlies, throwing 49 innings, going 0-1 with a 3.49 ERA, nine saves, 11 walks and 66 strikeouts. Hoyt was invited as a non-roster player to the Astros 2016 Spring Training where he impressed the team with his performance. Unfortunately for him, he did not make the big league team, losing out on the final roster spot to Michael Feliz.

Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said in this Jake Kaplan, Houston Chronicle story from April 2016, “I would have been completely comfortable with Hoyt, or actually, a couple of guys that were left back in Kissimmee.”

Barely missing out on starting the season with the Astros, Hoyt went back to Fresno, primarily as the closer. As of June 23, his record is 3-3 with a 2.00 ERA, 17 saves, and 64 strikeouts in 36 innings.

“James Hoyt is unhittable.” – Morgan Ensberg.

On June 23, Ensberg tweeted: “James Hoyt is unhittable,” and “Hoyt has done everything asked of him and he’s a better person than he is a pitcher. He can help our team.”

When reminded by another Twitter user that the Astros have a former Cy Young Award winner on their roster, Ensberg responded:

“I know. That dude’s good too. You have to see Hoyt. I’m telling you. He’s unhittable.”

Here is an interview with Hoyt earlier this offseason with Talking Stros.

Talking Stros with RP Prospect James Hoyt (interview)

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Although Will Harris has done an excellent job closing for Houston, others in the bullpen have struggled. With such a glowing recommendation from a knowledgeable baseball man like Ensberg, the Astros should take his advice, and give Hoyt a chance to show what he can do in the Major Leagues.

**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference, and MLB.com**

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