GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kody Hoese ranked fourth in NCAA Division I with 23 homers in 2019, but that power didn’t show up in his first full professional season since injuries limited him to just 69 games.
Battling through an intercostal strain and after spending roughly two months on the injured list, Hoese hit just two homers in 2021 and was never truly able to get into a rhythm. He got off to a slow start in the Arizona Fall League, but kept working on his swing, knowing the rest would take care of itself.
That change occurred Wednesday night as the Dodgers’ No. 13 prospect went 3-for-4 with two homers in Glendale’s 9-4 win over Mesa at Camelback Ranch.
“I was just comfortable up there,” Hoese said. “Felt really good. Just been putting in the work every day and got results tonight.”
Hoese made a habit of going the other way for the Desert Dogs. He singled to left field in the first, homered to left in the third and then went deep to left again in the fifth.
With fans in the stands yelling “hat trick” as he stepped to the plate in the seventh, the Tulane product grounded into a double play, though that hardly took away from the breakthrough night at the plate.
The homers, Hoese’s first of the AFL, were nearly mirror images of each other, though Hoese said the second felt better off the bat. Both of them had exit velocities of 95 mph and the second barely traveled further than the first, going 369 and 379 feet respectively.
“Me and some hitting coaches have been working on my swing and everything, so just a matter of time,” Hoese said. “Everything’s starting to click right now -- feeling comfortable, recognizing pitches.”
The 25th overall pick from the 2019 Draft, Hoese was challenged with an assignment to Double-A in his first full season. Health kept him off the field for a large chunk of the year, but when he was on the field, he struggled to a slash line of .196/.247/.250.
Coming out of the gate slowly in Arizona may not have come as a huge surprise to Hoese, given that he was facing advanced competition and coming off the injury-plagued season.
“It was just a big learning experience,” he said of his previous struggles. “It didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but a lot of lessons learned.”
However, he may now be turning a corner as the Fall League has given him an opportunity to get regular at-bats and continue to refine his game. Hoese has hits in three of his past four games, bringing his AFL average up to .222.
Fellow Dodgers prospect Jacob Amaya also flexed his muscle, putting Glendale on the board with a solo homer in the first. The homer, the third of the fall for Los Angeles' No. 14 prospect, had a 104 mph exit velocity and travelled 426 feet.
Juan Yepez also went deep for the Desert Dogs, hitting his sixth and seventh homers. The Cardinals’ No. 26 prospect has been scorching at the plate in Arizona and is batting .319 after adding a double on his 3-for-4, four-RBI night.
On the other side, No. 71 overall prospect JJ Bleday stayed hot for Mesa with a two-run homer, his fifth, in the first.