Kody Hoese was a draft-eligible sophomore and heard his name called in the 35th round of the MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals last year.
The third baseman opted to return to Tulane for his junior season in hopes of refining his skills and improving his value.
The decision has paid off for Hoese. He’s developed into one of college baseball’s top hitters and a potential first-round pick in June’s draft.
“It has been my dream ever since I was a little kid to play professional baseball,” Hoese said.” It was a tough decision to turn it down at the time. I felt like I was going to improve and get better. It’s shown up so far. I don’t really have any regrets that I didn’t go.”
Hoese, an Indiana native, committed to Tulane over Indiana, Purdue and Arkansas out of high school.
Electing to attended Tulane allowed him to play immediately as a freshman in 2017. He batted .213 with two doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs in 44 games.
He returned as a sophomore and increased his production. He hit .291 with five home runs and 34 RBIs in 58 games.
The Royals drafted Hoese after his sophomore season. He thought about starting a professional career but believed he could produce better numbers as a junior.
He returned to Tulane and has exploded at the plate. He’s hitting .408 with 21 home runs and 53 RBIs in 44 games. He’s shown impressive plate discipline, drawing 27 walks while striking out 20 times this spring.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-handed hitter said he hasn’t changed anything mechanically with his swing, and instead credits his maturity at the plate and improvement in strength for his offensive surge.
Hoese’s top trait is his hit hitting ability. He has solid bat speed and a strong understanding of the strike zone.
“The power numbers are surprising to anyone,” Hoese said. “In the fall, I felt a lot more comfortable at the plate. Seeing two years of college pitching and knowing what pitches I can drive really helped me. I’ve carried that success into the season.”
He’s an average defender as third base but continues to progress in that area. With about three weeks left in the regular season, Hoese isn’t focused on improving in any specific areas. Instead, he’s trying to refine his game in preparation for his future.
“At a young age, I realized that I had to do my best to stay in the moment,” Hoese said. “I think that’s been a big part of my game and not focusing on the other things. I just focus on the next play and pitch.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.