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2019 MLB draft profile: Will 3B Kody Hoese fall to the second round after a breakout season?

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Hoese is hitting over .400 with 23 home runs in 2019.

While they sit in the middle of the pack among American League teams in terms of WAR, the Detroit Tigers have not had a great success rate with second round picks in their history. Hall of Famer Alan Trammell is the obvious exception here, but the list thins out quickly after that. Brandon Inge had a nice career, of course, but next on the WAR leaderboard is lefthander Drew Smyly, whose career has been sidetracked by injuries.

Things might be turning around, though. Former second round pick Spencer Turnbull looks like the real deal so far, and outfielder Parker Meadows is an athletic player who could be an everyday talent (if not better) in a few years.

Thanks to a relative lack of compensation picks in this year’s draft, the Tigers have a chance to draft another high-ceiling player like Meadows with their second round pick. Unlike in previous seasons where that selection would come some 60-odd picks into the draft — Turnbull went 63rd overall in 2014, and Tyler Alexander was the No. 65 pick in 2015 — Detroit’s second rounder this year will be the No. 47 overall pick in the draft.

One player they could potentially nab is Tulane third baseman Kody Hoese... if they are lucky. Hoese has burst onto the scene with a monster junior season for the Green Wave, hitting 23 home runs with a 1.329 OPS in 51 games. He has been so good, in fact, that he might blow past initial projections all the way into the first round. But if teams are still a little worried about some present flaws? He could fall to Detroit at No. 47 overall.

Profile

Position: 3B
School: Tulane
Draft day age: 21
MLB Pipeline draft prospect rank: 27
Previously drafted: 2018, 35th round

MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: 3B Kody Hoese

Hit Power Run Arm Field Overall
Hit Power Run Arm Field Overall
50 55 40 55 50 50

Strengths

Hoese is another bat-first prospect who has flashed plenty of raw power throughout the 2019 season. Reviews on his overall profile are a bit mixed — if they weren’t, he’d be a top 10 prospect — but the general consensus is he is a solid hitter who has blossomed into a legitimate power threat over the past year. ESPN’s Keith Law noted that Hoese “has a solid swing that has always led to high contact rates” when he ranked Hoese 33rd on his list of 2019 draft prospects. FanGraphs’ prospect team questioned Hoese’s bat speed in an early summary, but Dan Zielinski III of Baseball Prospect Journal suggested otherwise, saying Hoese has “solid bat speed and a strong understanding of the strike zone.”

Hoese himself noted that his swing and power have improved in 2019 thanks to added strength, something MLB Pipeline echoed in their evaluation. Hoese is the No. 27 prospect on their list.

Hoese is loaded with natural right-handed power. He’s always had a good swing and the ability to leverage the ball with his 6-foot-4 frame, and he has taken off since getting stronger. He drives the ball in the air from gap to gap with ease, maintaining a disciplined approach that has led to more homers and walks than strikeouts in 2019.

One of the things that concerns scouts about Hoese’s profile is a supposed checkered past when playing in wood bat leagues. Baseball America noted those concerns in their write-up, saying Hoese had “a pair of mediocre wood-bat summer performances.” Pipeline, however, praised Hoese’s work after turning down a 35th round selection by the Royals last summer. Our take? Somewhere in the middle. The New England Collegiate League is a step down from the Cape Cod League, but Hoese hit seven home runs and managed an .863 OPS in 38 games.

Weaknesses

In terms of pure weaknesses, Hoese’s speed is at the top of the list. It’s his lowest-graded tool, at 40 per MLB Pipeline, and no one expects him to run all that well at the major league level. He doesn’t project to be a true hindrance on that front — not yet, at least — so let’s move on.

Reviews of Hoese’s defense are mixed. MLB Pipeline notes that he “moves well for his size and covers enough ground to remain at third base,” while Baseball America called him a “fringe-average defender at third base.” Zielinski’s profile was more positive, echoing what Pipeline had to say. Helping Hoese’s case is an above-average arm that will play at third, or perhaps in a corner outfield spot should a club want to move in that direction. Weirdly, the Tigers might hope to see Hoese exposed a bit more on that side of the ball in the next couple weeks; the worse he looks defensively, the further he might fall on draft day.

That brings us to FanGraphs’ brief evaluation of Hoese’s profile. There isn’t a date listed on their synopsis of Hoese’s talents, but it seems to be from a bit earlier in the season.

Popup name has crazy numbers (1.357 OPS, 17 HR through 33 games) but was a draft eligible sophomore that went in the 35th round last year, will be 22 just after the draft. He has below average bat speed and beats up on bad pitching, so he’s a 3rd rounder for most clubs, but could be a 2nd round money-saver for a progressive club with multiple picks.

These concerns about Hoese’s bat speed haven’t popped up anywhere else, but no opposite site has contradicted them either. His first two years at Tulane produced just five home runs (all from his sophomore season), and 27 extra-base hits in 345 at-bats. Though his OPS has held steady since this update, he has “just” six home runs in his last 18 games, falling behind his previous pace. These are minor concerns, of course — FanGraphs still projected him to be a first round pick in their latest mock — but could lead to him falling off a bit on draft night.

Draft position: late first or early compensation round

If the latest mock drafts to hit the internet are accurate, Hoese might not make it past the first round. MLB.com’s Jim Callis projected that Hoese would end up with the New York Yankees (ew) at No. 30 overall in his latest mock, while the crew at FanGraphs predicted Hoese would last just one more pick, to the Dodgers at No. 31. Neither site seems confident that Hoese will even be available at either pick, and FanGraphs’ crew suggested Hoese “likely doesn’t get past Houston at the next pick.” Still, mock drafts are hard — Baseball America doesn’t have Hoese listed in the first round right now — and a lot can happen in the next few weeks.

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