The youngest player on the Shorebirds’ roster and one of their two Maryland natives striving to get to the Orioles someday, second baseman L.J. Hoes has picked up the batting pace in recent days.
Hoes, whose given name is Jerome, made it to the South Atlantic League’s All-Star break with a .238 batting mark but in the seven games since play resumed has come untracked for a much more respectable .256 average. Also, he’s established himself as a threat on the bases, cracking double-digits in steals by swiping three against Lakewood on June 28th.
L.J. was drafted last season out of high school (St. John’s HS in Washington, DC) in the 3rd round by the Orioles, so naturally he’s a prospect they’re following closely. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League’s Orioles franchise last year, he responded by hitting .308 with a homer and 18 RBI in 48 games. That performance allowed the Orioles brass to feel comfortable advancing him to a full-season team at barely 19 years of age – rare for a high school draftee.
For the Shorebirds, that .256 batting mark and 12 steals in 69 games is also complemented by a homer and 28 RBI – you’ll find L.J. among the team leaders in most offensive categories. The areas he perhaps needs to work on are cutting down somewhat on strikeouts (although most hitters at this level share the same problem) and drawing a few more walks – a sub-.300 on-base percentage needs to improve for L.J. to advance through the system.
With his young age, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see L.J. play the full 2009 season here and perhaps stick around for the opening weeks of 2010 before advancing to Frederick. As his average and batting eye improve, though, he could be on a faster track to perhaps spelling Brian Roberts as another great Orioles second baseman.