Hoekstra was Atlanta’s 21st round pick from Western Michigan University in 2015. Though he is now 25-years-old and has yet to play above A-Ball, a move to the mound has put him on the prospect radar for the first time—more than he ever was as a position player. Originally an athletic corner infielder that moved between 1B and 3B as a pro, the Braves moved Hoekstra to the mound given his rangy frame and strong arm. A career .248/.316/.347 hitter in parts of four seasons in the low-minors, he appeared in a handful of games from the ‘pen in 2017 and 2018 before moving to pitching full-time this year.
Pitching exclusively from the stretch, Hoekstra’s whippy arm-stroke naturally pumps 92-to-95 mph heaters with consistent angle and run. It’s a lively fastball that projects to grow into a tick more velocity and command as he builds reps on the mound. Almost all positional converts have arm-strength, but it’s the action on his 78-to-83 mph slurve that’s a separator, flashing sharpness and late finish at best. Its three-quarters slant can look like a curve or slider depending on how hard he throws it, projecting to morph into a true slider with more pitching experience. His low-80s changeup is less refined than the other two pitches, though it has similar projection just because of how little time Hoekstra has spent on the mound.
Given his age and present rawness across the board, Hoekstra still faces steep odds to a big league bullpen role. He’s an interesting story with flashes of a solid fastball/curveball mix that fit as a FV 35+ type of follow. He’s athletic enough to potentially take a jump if something clicks with more time on the mound.