In scouting and drafting, there is a term called helium. It means, that much like a hot air balloon, a particular player’s stock is rising, and rising fast. In the 2019 MLB draft, there may be no player with more helium than Tulane’s junior third baseman Kody Hoese.
Kody Hoese 2019 MLB Draft Profile
There isn’t much else to say about Kody Hoese. After two completely unremarkable seasons, Hoese has taken college baseball by storm in 2019. His numbers are superb, verging on ridiculous. While scouts and general managers ponder where it came from and if it can last, the numbers themselves cannot be overlooked.
The most obvious strength Kody Hoese brings to the table is that everyone knows he can get hotter than molten lava. In 2019, Hoese slashed an absurd .391/.486/.779 with 23 home runs, 20 doubles and more walks than strikeouts. That’s just this season. His first two years at Tulane were utterly unremarkable. He hit a bit as a sophomore, with a .291 average and five home runs, but it was certainly nothing that suggested that this was coming.
However, 2019 most certainly did come, and Hoese exploded onto the draft scene, climbing all the way into the first round conversation. Scouts generally believe the offensive improvements are real. MLB.com slapped a 50 grade on Hoese’s hitting ability and a 55 grade on his raw power, both on the 20-80 scale. Perhaps they docked his hitting a bit for playing not playing in a major conference, but it still seems clear that scouts believe his bat has legitimate promise.
Additionally, Hoese made great strides in his plate discipline in his breakout season, with 39 walks to 34 strikeouts. In his first two years in college, Hoese walked 34 times and struck out 58 times, so the improvement was as significant as it was welcome. It also furthers the belief that his offensive breakout was legitimate.
It must first be said that the lack of any track record beyond this season is a weakness. It will not necessarily hold him back, but it will cause some to fear regression. Beyond that, his biggest offensive weakness is that he is a below-average runner. Given that he is listed at 6’4″, this should not be a surprise, but it does place additional stress on his bat. If his power was a one year spike, he lacks the footspeed to muster an adequate offensive profile without it.
Furthermore, his defense at third was relatively spotty with a .949 fielding percentage this year. It certainly isn’t awful, and scouts believe he has the arm strength to make it work, grading his arm at 55 and his glove at 50. Again, his lack of speed and issues with footwork will be an issue, but should not be enough to hold him back. If his bat pans out, he should be able to pass as an average to fringe-average defender somewhere.
Fangraphs referenced Jonathan India, last year’s fifth overall pick, as a similar draft profile. Both third basemen with one monster season under their belts. It will be interesting to see if India’s relative mediocrity so far hampers Hoese’s draft stock. An interesting comparison is Josh Donaldson, who radically changed his plate discipline between his sophomore and junior years at Auburn. On the lower end of the spectrum, Colin Moran made a drastic jump as a junior at UNC. From an MVP to a relative journeyman, there is a range of possibilities for Hoese’s future. What is not in question is that Kody Hoese made huge strides at the plate in 2019, and some team is going to take him early and hope the improvements are real.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images