With the generally putrid production that the Orioles have gotten out of the designated hitter slot this season, there's something attractive about a young player who is hitting .304/.406/.403 at Triple-A Norfolk. That's L.J. Hoes.
Last year, he received the briefest of cups of coffee in the big leagues, getting a standing ovation from a friendly Camden Yards crowd as he stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter for his first major league at-bat, and another standing ovation after he grounded out to shortstop. He looks to be getting a bit more of a shot this time around, with the Orioles beat writers reporting that sources say he could be activated for Sunday's game.
Hoes, a right-handed batter, could serve as an extra outfielder, late-inning pinch-runner, and could even platoon at designated hitter with Henry Urrutia. The Orioles' third-round pick in the 2008 draft is 23 years old this season and has spent the past two seasons playing for Norfolk, batting .302/.391/.400 in 181 games. He does not have a lot of power, but he hits and he gets on base, or at least he has done so at Norfolk.
Significantly, Hoes has more walks (58) than strikeouts (56) at the Triple-A level this year. That's not a bad addition to a team that doesn't walk at all. Will he be able to manage that same excellent ratio against tougher MLB competition? Probably not. Still, it doesn't take a lot to be better than what the Orioles have been doing at DH - and Hoes has more to contribute to the team beyond just being a DH against left-handed pitching, unlike a player such as Danny Valencia.
He could stick around for a while. Or he could get demoted again on Monday after not appearing in a game. The ways of Dan Duquette are myriad and inscrutable.
Hoes is a local kid, born in DC, who grew up an Orioles fan. Everyone loves a local kid. This might be a sign that he'll get a chance to contribute and shine a little bit for his favorite childhood team this season.