Coming into the 2008 season, Jerome Hoes was a UNC commit, with a very strong verbal agreement to play with the Tar Heels. He was part of a stellar recruiting class that included flame-throwers, and fellow top draft picks Tim Melville, and Jason Knapp. Luckily for the Orioles, all it took was $490,000 to sway Hoes away from the collegiate ranks and to a professional career.
Hoes was a two-way player at St. John's College, featuring an upper '80s fastball on the mound, and flashing multiple tools in the field, and at the plate. Prior to the '08 draft, Hoes was the 47th ranked player available, and the eighth ranked outfielder.
Hoes has done very little in his one-and-a-half years with the organization to diminish the Orioles view of him, and if he continues on his current pace, he could find himself replacing a soon-to-be Orioles legend.
The first post-draft task for the O's was finding a permanent position for Hoes. While he was no doubt a talent on the mound, his skill set as an everyday player was just too good to pass up. His power wasn't off the charts, so that ruled out a spot in right, or left field. And his speed was good, but not great, so that made sticking at center field not a long-term possibility. So to second base Hoes moved.
Hoes got his first taste of pro ball later that summer in the Gulf Coast League. It was very obvious that of all of his gifts, the best was his advanced bat. He dominated at the plate, notching a .308 batting average. He hit four doubles, knocked three triples, and scored 36 runs in 48 games. He also showed an advanced eye, walking 30 times to only 22 strikeouts.
After the season ended, Hoes earned an intense amount of praise for his all-around game. Talk started then about skipping the young second baseman, who made 15 errors in the GCL, over not only Bluefield, but Aberdeen as well, straight to Delmarva.
The Orioles held true to their promise, and more important, to their belief in Hoes' advanced skills, and the 19-year old began the season with the Shorebirds. It was very much an up and down season for Hoes, who went through long struggles at the plate. In all, though, the 2009 season can only be seen as a success. After all, Hoes was a 19-year old, playing with many older players.
Playing on a prospect rich squad that included Xavier Avery, Kyle Hudson, Ronnie Welty, and Greg Miclat, Hoes finished fifth on the team with 112 hits. His 19 doubles were fourth on the team, as were his 47 RBI, impressive for a hitter not known for his RBI capability. And when Hoes swiped his 19th and 20th bases on the last day of the season, he gave the Shorebirds five players with 20 or more steals.
The only troublesome aspect of Hoes' 2009 season was his walk to strikeout ratio, which sat at an uncomfortable 23:80. Again though, given his age, it doesn't seem very uncommon for a 19-year old to do much better, or worse than that.
In the field, Hoes made dramatic improvement, having never played second base before his first pro season. Although his 28 errors topped his 2008 numbers, Hoes began to get into a decent routine in the field, and as anyone in the organization will tell you, there are few players who work harder than Hoes.
Hoes will likely get the bump up to Frederick for the 2010 season. The Orioles are extreme believers in his advanced bat, so even if he struggles to start the season, much like in 2009, don't look for any kind of demotion.
Make no bones about it, Hoes is the Orioles second baseman of the future. Think of him as a sort of Diet-Brian Roberts.