Scottsdale, Ariz. -- The Colorado Rockies might have something special in Shane Hoelscher. They might not, of course (the minor leagues are hard and not everybody makes it!), but any player that gets 350 at-bats and slashes .328/.422/.529 in the South Atlantic League is going to see his stock rise entering the next summer. Add to that the fact that he's not left-handed—and thus can't take advantage of McCormick's short right field porch in the same way—and suddenly those 37 doubles and 11 home runs mean a little bit more.
Hoelscher, a product of Rice University, got to Asheville as a 23-year-old, turning 24 as the club was making their playoff run last September. After a massive pro debut in 2014 in the short-season Northwest League (Hoelscher slashed .332/.427/.466 for Tri-City), full season ball in the mountains of western North Carolina agreed with the 17th round draft pick.
He hit all year long, winning the South Atlantic League batting title by ten points and going 15-for-41 (.366) in his final ten games. (The year before, in Tri-City, he finished tied for third in hitting, three points off the leader.) Besides a very, very brief call-up to Modesto where he couldn't figure out California League pitching (just 2-for-17 with five strikeouts in four games), all the third baseman has done thus far in his pro career is hit the ball, adding power to his game in Asheville.
In the video above, you get a better idea of his stance, swing, and approach at the plate; available is four rounds of batting practice, plus one at-bat where he swung at the first pitch (and doubled) against minor league righty Logan Sawyer in one of the Rockies' intrasquad games on the backfields.
Somewhat like we've seen with fellow minor leaguer Campbell Wear, Hoelscher is tall to the ball, though obviously more athletic with a more violent swing than the catcher. If there's one key with Shane—you can hear a coach tell him at 1:29 in the video—it's having to time his leg kick. When he does that, he hits line drives with authority and good lift. When he doesn't, he's susceptible to all kinds of problems with swing path, contact, exit speed, and more. Timing is everything, for all players, but especially so for any hitter with a leg kick more than just a simple stride.
Hoelscher is in an interesting place in his career; all he's done is hit the last two summers, and yet that's true of countless guys in short-season and Low-A who then get exposed quickly as they move up minor league levels. He's an all-around force for his level and comes from a major college baseball pedigree, and yet he's already 24 years old and only about to begin his time in High-A, still three levels from the big leagues.
The third baseman did not make our PuRPs list this year—nor should he have, in all likelihood—and while he may never be a prospect in that sense, all he's shown so far in his career is the ability to keep deserving another chance at a higher level each and every summer. Hoelscher is certainly not one to count on for the club's big league future, especially with Ryan McMahon just a level above him and several years younger, but if the Rice University product has another monster year in High-A this summer, he's going to force the Rockies' hand into paying attention to him at some point.
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