The route to success for Bryan Hoeing has been an interesting one thus far in his baseball career. Pitching nearly exclusively as a reliever in college and early in his professional tenure, the Marlins challenged Hoeing to a rotational role in 2021. He accepted and hasn’t looked back.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was officially announced that after just four games at the AA level, Hoeing, a 25-year-old righty, would be promoted to the highest level of minor league baseball with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The promotion for Hoeing comes after he showed some impressive stuff both physically and mentally early this season. With a 0.35 ERA, Hoeing ranked as the second best starting pitcher in all of Minor League Baseball among qualified starters. Hoeing has allowed just one run (an earned run) in 25.2 innings pitched. How did Hoeing get here and earn an early season call to AAA after he had a 4.83 ERA in 22 starts in A+ last season?
Including his fellow starter and Marlins top 30 prospect Zach McCambley as well as new pitching coach Dave Eiland, Hoeing was called out by name as a guy who really impressed during spring training. Hoeing credits some of his success to an early start to his spring during the Marlins’ development camp.
“It was good to get down to Jupiter in early January to start a throwing program. I was able to build up my pitch count during some live ABs and some intrasquad scrimmages,” Hoeing said. “That lead into spring training where I was built up to maybe 4-5 innings as far as my pitch count. I knew I was in a good spot heading to Pensacola as far as my arm and my pitch count. I felt even from week one, if I was pounding the zone and getting early ours I could go into the 5th or 6th inning.”
A main catalyst that has allowed Hoeing to make it deep into his starts has been the development of his primary breaking pitch, a slider, which Hoeing says he put a lot of work into during his stay in Jupiter. The enhanced bender in the low-mid 80s has allotted Hoeing what has been his bread and butter, a high ground ball rate over 70% as well as a K rate of 25%. According to Hoeing, adjustments he made to the slider have made it a more affective offering which has allowed him to challenge hitters both in early and in deeper counts. That pitch on top of two other solid offerings allowed Hoeing to tough his way through 5.2 one run innings against Montgomery last week.
“I tweaked with my grip a little bit and it’s been a great pitch for me so far,” Hoeing said. “I had to battle a bit more than usual. My sinker was still working in and out of the plate, I threw some good changeups today and mixed my slider in here and there. They did put up some good at bats against me. I had to find my way to battle through and get some outs.”
Hoeing went on to have a seven inning, two hit, eight strikeout shutout performance in his final start for Pensacola.
On top of improved stuff, Hoeing’s mental capacity and understanding of who he is as a pitcher is a big difference maker. His ability to adjust to the lineup he is facing and settle for recording outs any way possible whether it be by strikeout, groundout or by any other means speaks to his maturity as a competitor. Furthermore, Hoeing has been nearly untouchable in his second year as a full-time starter via his understanding and ability to differentiate what it takes to get it done in this role versus the one he served in prior.
“It’s preparation throughout the week; being wary of how many throws you throw in catch play during the week,” Hoeing said. “Right now, we are in a six man rotation. When that day comes, I should feel like I’m fresh and ready to go.”
Hoeing also pinned importance on challenging hitters, keeping the rest of the Blue Wahoos’ roster involved in what he’s doing on the mound and limiting his overall pitch count.
“As a starter, I feel like it’s so important to pound the zone and keep the defense alive. I don’t want them to fall asleep behind me,” he said. “When you pound the zone early and guys put it in play, you’re able to go deep into the game.”
Hoeing, who previously didn’t have certainty on how long he would be relied upon, has embraced his current role with an open mind and open arms. With continued success and satisfaction to get outs however possible — whether it be by double digit strikeouts or double digit ground balls — he is an innings eating arm that can serve a major league roster in a multitude of ways. With all the Marlins have both in front of and behind Hoeing, his future with the organization appears to be in a swing-man role but he has the experience and flexibility to be able to serve the team in a positive capacity pretty quickly. After his quick development, Hoeing has the capacity to produce results wherever he may be called upon in a game. His name is well on the radar for an MLB debut as early as this season.