Hoeing's journey to MLB debut a whirlwind

Right-hander travels across country to make start against MLB's best offense

August 21st, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Marlins right-hander Bryan Hoeing was hyped and his adrenaline was flowing for his Major League debut. You couldn’t blame him, with the pulsating bass blasting from the Dodger Stadium speakers for a Saturday night crowd of 51,813. It was a far cry from a year ago, when Hoeing was playing in front of Midwest fans at High-A Beloit.

Given the monumental task of slowing down MLB’s most prolific lineup, Hoeing surrendered all seven runs across three innings in a 7-0 loss to the Dodgers. It tied for the second-most runs allowed in a debut in franchise history.

“I've been playing baseball my whole life, and to get that call, and to have somebody tell me, 'You might potentially be starting today,' and all the emotions running through me. But it was good emotions,” said Hoeing, whose brother, girlfriend and high school friend were able to make it to the game. “It's something I've worked for my whole life, and to get out here in front of this atmosphere at Dodger Stadium on a Saturday night, it's something that you dream of as a kid, and I was just happy to have the opportunity.”

It has been quite the journey for Hoeing, who wasn’t in big league camp in spring. A seventh-round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, he became the fourth member of that Marlins class to debut in the past month, joining JJ Bleday, Peyton Burdick and Andrew Nardi.

That’s because Miami’s starting pitching continues to take hits: Max Meyer (Tommy John surgery), Trevor Rogers (lower back spasms), Daniel Castano (concussion), Cody Poteet (Tommy John surgery), Jordan Holloway (arthroscopic surgery), Sixto Sánchez (right shoulder surgery), Nick Neidert (Minor League IL) and Paul Campbell (Tommy John surgery) are sidelined. Saturday’s scheduled starter Braxton Garrett joined them by straining his right oblique while playing catch Friday and landing on the injured list.

Hoeing, who was scheduled to start for Triple-A Jacksonville on Sunday, instead was alerted at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday that he needed to fly out to Los Angeles to possibly pitch. He landed around 11 a.m. local time, and upon arriving at Dodger Stadium, was told he was starting.

“You do bring guys out of necessity at times, and we've had a lot of injuries to our rotation, our starting pitchers," manager Don Mattingly said. "If you know this is coming, this day's coming, we probably do some things a little differently with Trevor possibly, or something like that, where you wouldn't put a guy in a position to be flying across the country and pitching the same day. You don't want to do it, but like you said, some things just happen and you can't control them, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it.”

After leading the High-A Central in innings (121) in his first full professional season in 2021, Hoeing dominated Double-A hitters in four starts to open '22, recording a 0.35 ERA and receiving a promotion to Jacksonville. His results haven’t translated to the higher level, as he had a 5.44 ERA in 16 starts.

“Obviously any time you move to a new level, you are susceptible to some adversity, and there is an adjustment period/learning curve,” director of player development Geoff DeGroot wrote to MLB.com. “Bryan did a nice job continuing to throw strikes, although not to the level he was in Pensacola earlier in the year. He continued to collect a very high number of ground balls with his sinking fastball as well. …

“Scott Aldred, Tommy Phelps and Dave Eiland all did an excellent job making improvements to his breaking ball this offseason. We worked hard on a grip change in development camp prior to Spring Training that Bryan took to really well and carried into his [Double-A] debut in the beginning of the year.”

The 25-year-old Hoeing, who posted elite ground-ball rates in the Minors between Pensacola (70.3%) and Jacksonville (53%), recorded five of his nine outs via grounders, thanks to his sinker. But two of them didn’t sink, and right-handed hitters Will Smith and Justin Turner knocked three-run homers in the first and third innings, respectively. Hoeing believes if his slider had been more consistent, his sinker would’ve played better.

“I thought it was awesome when I saw Garrett got scratched and he was going to start,” said Smith, who was teammates with Hoeing at the University of Louisville in 2016. “I was happy for him. But that's the game -- I'm going to try to beat him like he's going to try to beat me. It’s fun when I face all those guys [from] back there and play against them.”

Mattingly said the best teacher is the league itself, and what better way than to be thrown into the fire against the best?

“They can hit,” Hoeing said. “You've got to give them credit. They're good too, right? You've got to execute pitches, little mistakes here as you saw tonight, they do some damage against me.”