Hillsdale College's Jake Hoover is headed to professional baseball.
Hoover, a hard-hitting and supremely talented shortstop, was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 28th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft Wednesday afternoon. He was picked 835th overall on the third day of the three-day draft.
He is the first Charger baseball player to be selected in the MLB Draft in more than three decades. A native of Armada, Michigan, located near Michigan's thumb, Hoover may play for a small Division II school, but his skills are worthy of the professional level.
As a shortstop, Hoover has incredible range and athleticism. His arm strength and ball-glove exchange rate are near-supernatural. His coach through his three-year Charger career, Eric Theisen, marvels at his work ethic and overall skill level.
"I can't tell you how happy I am for Hoov," Theisen said. "He's worked extremely hard and intentionally for this opportunity. He's a true ballplayer, a coach's son and a natural leader who has tons of intangibles and a very high baseball IQ. He loves the game and loves the grind of honing his craft.
"His speed, athleticism, and arm strength grade out well. His off-balance arm strength makes him a playmaker and separates him from most college short stops. He's worked very hard to develop as an offensive threat, showing he can handle and do damage against high velocity. He knows his tools and uses them as weapons, truly a fun player to watch."
Hoover's defensive prowess is difficult to quantify in mere words. During the 2019 season, he dazzled his teammates and frustrated his opponents with his range at shortstop. In one home game late in the year, he made a running diving catch in shallow left field, chasing a ball that was hit over his head, towards the third base line. A somewhat unreasonable play for anyone to expect a shortstop to make, both in terms of ball location and Hoover's point of origin, but fairly routine for someone with his skills.
At the plate, Hoover was no fun for opposing pitchers, either. He was batted second in the order in 2018 and moved into the leadoff spot in the 2019 season.
Over the past two seasons, Hoover started 96 games at shortstop and belted out a total of 124 hits. In 2019 he compiled a .370 batting average with 10 home runs, 33 runs batted in, 60 runs scored and 21 stolen bases. He put together a 31-game hitting streak that spanned from March 17-April 27, and despite all that, was named Second-Team All-Great Midwest by G-MAC coaches.
Hoover appears five different times on Hillsdale's single-season top-10 record holder list. His 70 total hits is sixth-most in school history and is one of just seven 70-hit seasons ever recorded by a Charger baseball player. Hoover's 60 runs scored is second-most in a season in school history, while he also ranks in the top 10 for single-season slugging percentage (.672), triples (7) and stolen bases (21).
Hoover has spent the first part of his summer playing for the Kalamazoo Growlers.