Having your name called at any point in the Major League Baseball draft is something any red-blooded American boy would fantasize over.
Bryan Hoeing heard his for a third – and final – time June 4, selected in the seventh round by the National League's Miami Marlins.
For the 6-foot-6, 225-pound righthander, it was another in a series of fulfilled wishes that date back to his days in a Batesville Bulldog uniform.
"The University of Louisville offered me a scholarship, which was a dream come true," he starts, "and twice we got to go to the College World Series (2017 and 2019), which is really unique. Some people only dream of playing in (the CWS). And of course I'm thankful for the Marlins organization for giving me an opportunity to play professional baseball ... it's been great so far."
The Cardinals – sporting two BHS alums in Hoeing and catcher Zach Britton – advanced to the bracket finals in Omaha thanks to a thrilling comeback win over Mississippi State. Facing the same Vanderbilt squad that had handed them a loss in the opener, the Cards couldn't make a late 2-1 lead stand up as the Commodores roared to the national title.
"Obviously, we wanted to win it all," reflects the 22-year-old son of Donna and the late John Hoeing. "I kind of knew what to expect, as it was my second time being there. We had some really good games there, especially the Mississippi State game when we got the walk-off hit. That was probably the most exciting baseball game I've been part of. But we just ran into a really good team. Vanderbilt had a lot of good players, were well coached and they deserved it."
The Arizona Diamondbacks showed an early interest, drafting Hoeing in the 32nd round just days after his 2015 BHS graduation ceremony. Having undergone two major surgeries – ACL (knee) and Tommy John (elbow) – before accepting his diploma, the prep baseball and hoops All-Stater opted to honor his commitment to Louisville. He redshirted his freshman year, making a handful of appearances the following season. In 2018, a solid line read 7-2 with a 2.88 earned run average and 51 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. The draft phone rang again, this time by the San Francisco Giants in the 36th round.
"I knew it would be nice to get a degree and there'd be a lot of neat things to experience in college," says the U of L grad who majored in sports administration and minored in communications. "After my (redshirt) sophomore year, I felt I had a lot of leverage at that point. If I continued to produce, the money would still be there. Plus we went back to the World Series."
Hoeing began his final campaign as a starter, soon transitioning to the bullpen. Each comes with its own pros and cons.
"Both are fine," he explains. "In a starting role, you pitch every fifth day and have a routine training program between starts. Relieving is more on-the-spot. If your name gets called, you have to warm up quickly and be ready for any situation. You may come in with the bases loaded or have nobody on to start an inning."
His 2019 ended with 3 wins and a tidy 3.00 ERA in 63 innings, including a pair of CWS stints. As a Redbird, he dusted off a career line of 10-6 in 153 innings, a 3.24 ERA, notching 144 punchouts and 2 saves. Along his route, he was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic Team and was chosen for the Muhammad Ali Leadership Baseball Scholarship.
Hoeing comes by his athleticism honestly. His mother Donna and aunt Cindy are both members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and NCAA Division I standouts. A cousin, Alex Meyer, recently announced his retirement from MLB after pitching for Greensburg High School, the University of Kentucky and three major league franchises.
"I've leaned on him a lot," relates Hoeing, "with the recruiting process, once I got to college, and especially during the draft. Right now, we probably talk once a week. He's been really helpful because he's been through everything ... injuries, trades, being a first-round draft pick. If he doesn't have the answer, he knows someone who does."
The Marlins snagged Hoeing with the 201st overall pick in June, adding to a farm system currently ranked in the top five among all organizations. Chief executive officer and New York Yankee great Derek Jeter is looking to craft a world championship roster; the franchise owns two titles to date.
"He's implementing his own system that he learned from his time with the Yankees," Hoeing adds. "There are a lot of people in the organization who will help you become a better baseball player."
Doing his own scouting report, the righty believes there's more room for consistency in his game.
Assets include "keeping my composure on the mound whether it's going good or bad, pounding the strike zone and working at a (steady) pace.
"I need to work on being more consistent," he goes on. "You have to produce in the Marlins' system, but if you're not consistent, you won't move up."
Hoeing considers the fastball to be his best offering, a pitch that sits in the 92-95 miles per hour range. He also throws a cut-fastball (86-87), a changeup (84-85) and a curve (80 mph).
After working with the Boras Corp. to secure a $229,700 signing bonus, Hoeing says thing are "going good" in western New York, where he throws for the Batavia Muckdogs of the short-season New York-Penn League. The team currently holds a slight lead in the Pinckney division with two weeks left in the regular season. Batesville's native son earned a two-inning hold (2 Ks) in the series opener against 2nd-place West Virginia, putting his ERA at 4.26 through 12.2 frames. Muckdog team members include fellow Louisville alum Sam Bordner and a pair of CWS adversaries – Julian Infante (Vanderbilt) and Dustin Skelton (Miss. St.).
NY-Penn is not his first experience pitching to wood bats, as the previous two summers involved trips to the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League for collegians.
"You always like to throw to wood bats because they don't produce as much power as aluminum bats," he explains. "If you throw inside, you can break bats and create soft contact. In college, you can jam a hitter, but the ball can still come off the bat harder. As a pitcher, you have to use that (difference) to your advantage."
Playoffs are anticipated in early September, followed by a likely invite to an instructional league in Miami. There, he could cross paths with another Indiana product – Marlins' skipper Don Mattingly, originally from Evansville. He will then await his spring assignment after the winter hiatus.
"I'll start a tossing program, either in Louisville or back in Batesville," remarks Hoeing. "I'll also find a gym and be diligent to follow the offseason workout the Marlins give us."
It's also a chance to separate even further from his past injuries.
"It isn't a pain thing, but it's definitely in the back of your mind sometimes," he admits. "You've got to exercise and stretch out before pitching, so you don't injure something else.
"You don't realize it in high school, when you just go out there and play, but as you get older, you've really got to take care of your body because mini issues can become permanent and affect the way you pitch," he adds. "It's been a journey coming back, but it's worked out so far."
Now Hoeing is laser-focused on becoming the first Batesville major-leaguer since pitcher Dyar Miller hung up his cleats in 1981.
"The plan of action is for me to be a starter, but as long as you produce and work hard, it doesn't matter (if starting or relieving) ... you'll keep moving up," he says. "The average time frame is about three to five years. Hopefully, I'll have a long career in the big leagues."
Hoeing hopes to follow the path of another Redbird hurler, Brendan McKay, who made his MLB debut with Tampa Bay in June after going early in the 2017 draft. McKay is the rare two-way player, seeing time on the mound and at designated hitter.
"It's been a pleasure to see him do that," offers Hoeing. "We all know how talented he is, so we weren't surprised he got there so quickly. We (U of L alums) wish him the best."
The list of thank-yous is lengthy and begins with the support of his mother, brother Mike, 24, other extended family and his closest friends. A pathway to the Marlins was laid out early with the Indiana Bulls travel team (six years), followed by the Batesville Bulldogs under former coach Alex Davis, and finally the Louisville Cards.
As Hoeing goes all in for the "show," he's sure to heed his own words that he would impart to aspiring athletes.
"Each day, get a little percent better. If you're not, there's always someone out there willing to outwork you. What you do between the lines, how you treat people, and how you carry yourself are what's really going to take you far."
Will Fehlinger can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 220112.