L.J. Hoes is hoping to make an impact with the Orioles this season. In 2008, Hoes was the team’s third round draft pick. It made sense since Hoes is from the area and currently lives in Mitchellville, Maryland, about 30 minutes away from Oriole Park.
Last season, Hoes started off living at home, playing at Bowie, then came a quick promotion to Norfolk. Combined, he hit .287 with five home runs and 54 RBIs.
In September, his minor league season over, Hoes was relaxing at home, getting ready for the Instructional League when Nick Markakis broke his thumb, and he was added to the roster for three weeks.
He briefly got into two games, then went to Sarasota, Fla. for the Instructional League.
“It was tremendous. Just being from the area, seeing what the Orioles have come from and how good they used to be. I’ve seen their struggles, and getting back [this year] to what they used to be, getting back to a great team and being able to have the opportunity to join them in September and being there for the playoff push, being around that atmosphere, it was definitely a good thing,” Hoes said this week at the Orioles’ Christmas party.
The Orioles have two players from the area on the 40-man roster, Hoes and Steve Johnson. Getting more players from the region is something that Dan Duquette is aiming for, and makes living here more exciting.
“Sometimes when I go out to eat now I just overhear people talking about the Orioles and how much they can’t wait for next season. Or some people might see me and be like, ‘Oh you played for the Orioles...we are so proud of you guys, we are so glad for you guys, we can’t wait for next year to support the team.’ Stuff like that. It’s definitely been a great thing for the area,” Hoes said.
“Us winning and also the Nationals winning. Baseball is coming back around here.”
Hoes will most likely begin the season in Norfolk. The Orioles have Markakis, Adam Jones, Nate McLouth, Trayvon Robinson as well as Lew Ford and Jason Pridie, both signed to minor league contracts. They also have Xavier Avery. All have more major league experience than Hoes.
As he gets ready for spring training, he’s aware there’s lots of competition.
“I’m going to be around Adam Jones and [Nick] Markakis and Nate’s back and Lew’s back. Those are guys I played with during the season. So, just go out there and pick their brain, hopefully I can learn some things that can help me out whether I’m competing for a job or I’m trying to get better for the spring or anytime when they might need me,” Hoes said.
For the three weeks he was with the team, Hoes absorbed a lot, he said.
“Just the daily approach those guys had. They are always, even when they are joking around, they are still serious. They play hard and the big leagues is a job. You got to go out there and be ready to play and make sure you are ready to contribute,” he said.
In the minors, Hoes has played the outfield and in the past, second base.
“I have no clue. I’m just going to go out there and play, wherever they tell me to play. I’m just going to go out there and try to do my best, whether it be left, center, right, second base, just try to go out there and compete and help the team win wherever I’m at,” Hoes said.