What to make of Kody Hoese? He has been labeled as a slow bat by many scouts and prospect analysts. While others say he has the ability to make a ML roster with his bat speed. How is that possible? Different scouts see swings differently. It is also just as possible that Hoese is extremely inconsistent with his swing and bat speed.
One publication that has removed Hoese as a prospect in 2022 is FanGraphs. This is what they wrote in 2021 when he was considered LAD’s #10 prospect.
Every year, a college player who was draft-eligible the year before takes a sudden leap, performs at an elite level, and forces teams to consider whether there’s been a real uptick in his skill or if he’s just beating up on familiar competition, in essence repeating a level. Hoese was the 2019 case. After putting up an .803 OPS in his draft-eligible sophomore year (he went in the 35th round and didn’t sign), he put up a 1.276 OPS in his junior year, with 23 homers and a 38:30 BB/K ratio.
He’s not tooled up and doesn’t have huge raw power, even with a healthy wrist. Instead he’s a very athletic swinger with a quick bat, whose swing is geared for airborne contact. That should help him get to power in games even though there’s not huge raw. Hoese will need to attain a balanced hit/power combination to profile at third base.
Kody did not make the FanGraphs 2022 Top 51 prospect list for 2022. So in the eyes of FanGraphs Hoese went from a Future Value of 45 to 30. He wasn’t even an honorable mention. I know that the list was prepared in the offseason, but in all candor, I do not understand leaving him off.
Baseball America Scouting Report (#19 Ranked LAD Prospect):
Hoese is a divisive player who draws widely disparate opinions depending on when scouts saw him. At his best, he is a balanced hitter with a short, compact swing and drives balls to all fields with his natural strength and leverage. Other times he jumps out of his legs, gets around the ball with a long swing and his bat speed disappears. Hoese shows above-average hitting ability and power when his swing is right, but the latter swing shows up too frequently. Hoese is a below-average runner who gets what’s hit to him at third base but lacks range. His arm strength fluctuates from below-average to above-average due to his inconsistent arm slot.
Grade 45 – High Risk
MLB Pipeline 2020 Scouting Report when he was the Dodgers #3 prospect –
Hoese displayed a nice right-handed swing and the ability to use the leverage in his 6-foot-4 frame during his first two college seasons, and he began to realize his power potential once he added strength. He drives the ball from gap to gap and employs a disciplined approach. While his power is his most attractive tool, he should hit for average as well.
Though he’s a below-average runner, Hoese moves well for his size. He has solid arm strength and enough range to remain at third base, though he needs to improve his consistency on defense. If he had to move to first base, he should provide enough offense to profile as a regular there as well.
MLB Pipeline 2022 Scouting Report as the Dodgers #24 prospect –
When he’s going good, Hoese displays an athletic right-handed swing and a disciplined approach while driving balls from gap to gap. But for much of 2021, his stroke looked longer and slower and he got too aggressive at the plate, which the Dodgers attribute to his injury and trying to dig himself out of a hole during a challenging assignment to Double-A. He continued to struggle in the Arizona Fall League, but he made some swing adjustments during the offseason that the club hopes can unlock a solid hitter with similar power.
Though he moves well for a large man, Hoese is still a below-average runner and a fringy defender at third base. He has decent range and hands, while his arm strength fluctuates from fringy to solid. He’ll need more consistency on both sides of the ball to profile as a big league regular.
Even Keith Law who rated the Dodger organization as the best in MLB wrote this about Kody Hoese:
Kody Hoese was a reach in the first round in 2019, a fourth-year junior who hit 23 homers for Tulane mostly off pitchers younger than he was. He hit .188/.241/.245 in 59 games for Double-A Tulsa last year, then was one of the few guys in the Arizona Fall League who didn’t hit, all while playing well below-average defense at third.
The scouting reports are all over the map with Hoese. I think Baseball America said it best in their first sentence: “Hoese is a divisive player who draws widely disparate opinions depending on when scouts saw him.”
While I am not a trained scout, I was in the camp that believed his bat speed was not quite good enough to play 3B at the ML level. When drafted, I believed Michael Busch was the better choice. I still do. I know, thank you Captain Obvious.
There is no question that Hoese was not good at all in 2021. Was it the intercostal injury? Or was the pitching simply better than Kody? The Dodgers say it was the former, while many scouts say it was the latter.
2022 started very similar to 2021, but Hoese has turned his season around in May (beginning May 10).
- In April – .217/.254/.267/.521 – 3 DBL, 0 TPL, 0 HR, 3 BB, 16 K
- In May – .346/.358/.551/.909 – 3 DBL, 2 TPL, 3 HR, 2 BB, 18 K
- On May 8, he was hitting .200/.241/.240/.481, 3 DBL, 0 TPL, 0 HR; three weeks later
- For 2022 – .290/.313/.428/.741 – 6 DBL, 2 TPL, 3 HR, 5 BB, 34 K
That is batting at a .397/.400/.651/1.051 clip since May 8 (16 games). That is sizzling for just over 2 weeks of games. But undoubtedly not sustainable, especially as much of a free swinger he is. His BABIP over that stretch is .468. It does not hurt that the three teams they have played in that 16 game stretch are considered 3 of the bottom half of the (5th, 7th, 9th of a 10 team league. 4 of the next five series will be against the top 4 pitching teams in the league. Let’s see where he is at the end of June.
It is evident that Hoese is a free swinger with 5 walks in 144 PA (3.5%). Thus his OBP is going to primarily approximate his batting average. With the limited power in his thus far pro-career, his OPS is not going to be sufficient to play one of the corner infield positions at the ML level as a regular, and he is not nearly quick enough to play up the middle.
If Hoese was a plus plus defender at 3B, one might accept his seemingly limited power. But he is a fringy at best defender. His 2022 OPS of .741 is considered average for ML hitters, not AA hitters.
Kody turns 25 in July. He is considered 3 months younger than the average Texas League player. Thus, age is going to be a consideration as he progresses. But more importantly, Hoese is blocked from further progress by Miguel Vargas. Vargas is nearly 2.5 years younger than Hoese, and is hitting better at AAA.
Vargas – .291/.394/.480/.874 and 30 BB / 36 K. That is 16.9% K rate and a 14.1% BB rate, compared to 23.6% and 3.5% rate respectively. Vargas has been fairly consistent throughout the year. He is 4.8 years younger than the average PCL hitter. It seems inconceivable that Hoese will approach Vargas on the depth chart. But stranger things have happened.
We just learned on Tuesday that Kody went on to the 7-Day IL. So we are in a holding pattern for now. I hope Kody can return to where he left off before the injury. At the very least he is emerging as a plausible trade package target come the trade deadline.