The people in Baltimore have grown to know and love L.J. Hoes, despite only two brief stints with the Major League club in Baltimore.

With Nolan Reimold out for the year, the recent demotion of Chris Dickerson, and less than impressive scouting reports on Henry Urrutia‘s ability to field his position, the recent need for an extra outfielder became apparent in Baltimore.

Very recent.  Four days ago, recent.  And that is when LJ Hoes got the call to come up and join the Orioles.

LJ Hoes with Bowie BaysoxHere we are, less than a week later, getting ready to watch Hoes partake in his second game as a member of the Houston Astros, a rebuilding organization with plenty of opportunities for a successful AAA player to take a stab at starting every day in the big leagues.

After growing up in Mitchellville, MD as an avid Orioles follower, Hoes wanted nothing more than to take the field in orange and black at Camden Yards.  After his promotion to AA Bowie in 2011, Hoes got the vision that he could realistically reach his dream.  “It’s always been a dream of mine [to play at Oriole Park].  Being a kid here, coming with my father back in the day when I was growing up watching the Orioles play, I’ve always wanted to play at Camden Yards…This really could possibly happen.”

At the AA level, Hoes was not only able to play for his hometown Bowie Baysox, a team within minutes of where he grew up, but also able to play professional baseball surrounded by family and friends in the area.  “It was a thrill [to play in Bowie] because all of my family was able to come out and watch me play.  It was great being able to play in my hometown, the place where I dreamed of playing when I was a kid.”

Screen shot 2013-08-01 at 4.16.23 AMDrafted in 2008 by the Orioles, 2013 became the 6th season that Hoes would spend in the minor leagues, all with Baltimore.  Originally used as a second baseman, Hoes saw time all around the diamond for his first couple of years in the system, eventually moving to the outfield in 2011 and sticking their to this day.  A center fielder at St. Johns College High School in Washington D.C., Hoes holds a solid .286 batting average over his lifetime in the minors, and was brought up to make his Major League debut with the Orioles on September 11, 2012.

Hoes has developed his game as a prospect recently, most notably over his time in Bowie and Norfolk the last two seasons, carrying a .304 average in 99 games at AAA in 2013.

Oriole fans caught on to the hometown kid storyline and ran with it, making Hoes a star in the eyes of fans, regardless of his statistics or baseball accomplishments.  Creating many taglines using the name Hoes in conjunction with ‘O’s’ and ‘Bohs’ (in reference to Baltimore’s favorite brew), you can find team apparel, social media user handles, and more all in support of the homegrown outfielder.

Let’s not forget the relationship that has brewed over the years between Hoes and Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.  Fans have  caught on to their friendship through the Twitterverse, and it is obvious that the two players not only motivate one another on the field but enjoy their off field antics together as well (a few examples for you).  Recounting tweets of Jones hosting Hoes on various occasions during Spring Training and the public display of their shared favorite hashtag, #TurnUp, their interactions brought yet another side to the LJ Hoes story and his perfect placement in this organization.

A deal to bring over right handed starting pitcher Bud Norris yesterday afternoon did much more than bolster the Orioles’ rotation.  To Baltimore, this trade was a lot more than sending away “a 4A position player, who gets on base, and a lottery-ticket lefty with arm strength but a long ways to go” (thank you for that gem of a summary, Keith Law) for a quality arm.  It took a man away from his city, a player away from his dream team.

People can say all they want about the trade.  I’ve seen and heard reactions ranging from calling this a desperation move to a needed rotation boost.  In the end, “it’s a business.”  The go-to line for Major League Baseball players when a trade occurs and a guy is a bit lost for words.

Dan+Duquette+Tampa+Bay+Rays+v+Baltimore+Orioles+iRG0Ymadu03lIt’s true.  Organizations make trades and transactions to benefit their future goals, not necessarily to keep each individual happy on a personal level.  It’s the reason that general managers and front office members generally try to spend little time around their team’s clubhouse.  The second that the folks in charge get on a personal level with a player, that is when business meets pleasure and a team may start to stray from their overall goals.

I do not say this to make Dan Duquette, or any general manager (Vice President of Baseball Operations in this case), look like a bad guy.   Duquette needed to do his job, and had he interacted more with LJ Hoes, it would have made that job a lot more difficult.

I got a quick photo with Hoes prior to yesterday’s game and quickly posted this cropped version to Twitter.  I then watched him warm up before batting practice as well as directly preceding the game, and sitting just a few rows above the third base dugout, there was visible frustration from Hoes after each of his at bats in his new uniform (he went 0-5 on the night with two strikeouts).  Understandably, today was certainly full of emotion for Hoes.  His messages to fans after the game look like a result of processing a long day of ups and downs, with hopefully a bright future ahead:

So here we are, at what I’d like to call the beginning of an era, not an end.  Hoes, at 23 years young, is greeted with an opportunity to start every day for a Major League Baseball team.  Here’s to you, Little Jerome, to a great future and successful career.  And as always, #TurnUp.