This summer, the junior left-hander made a strong impression at the national level. He turned in solid performances at college showcase events in Arizona and Georgia and caught the attention of several recruiters.
The Texas Christian University coaching staff was impressed and talked with Hoover following the Underclass Area Code Games in Atlanta.
Hoover, 16, took an unofficial visit to the campus in Fort Worth, liked what the Big 12 Conference program offered and made a verbal commitment with the Horned Frogs.
“I knew that (TCU) always produces a great baseball environment and has a lot of support,” Hoover said of the program. “I also knew that they were a winning program as I had watched them play on TV growing up.”
TCU has a record of 682-323 in 16 seasons under head coach Jim Schlossnagle. The record and .679 winning percentage is tops among Division 1 programs in the state of Texas. The Horned Frogs have posted 11 seasons of at least 40 wins and three of 50 or more. They’ve appeared in 14 NCAA Regionals and made five College World Series appearances since 2010.
Kirk Saarloos, who had a seven-year career in the Major Leagues (Houston, Oakland and Cincinnati), was a collegiate All-American and the Big West Pitcher of Year at Cal State Fullerton, is TCU’s pitching coach.
“Coach Saarloos liked me as a competitor on the mound and the ability to go get outs,” Hoover said.
Hoover played in three showcase tournaments with the Trosky Baseball 2022 national team at the shared spring training facility of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. He made the all-tournament in two events.
His performances in Arizona earned him a spot on the Milwaukee Brewers team for the Area Code Games in Atlanta.
In his debut, he entered with the game in a bases-loaded, one-out situation. He gave up a two-run double to the first batter and then struck out the next two batters.
In another appearance, he struck out four, walked one and allowed no hits in two innings.
He was named to the Rawlings-Perfect Game Preseason All-American third team.
Perfect Game, a national scouting organization, said Hoover hit 86 mph with his fastball, a 5 mph improvement from last summer.
“I have been working out at Variant Training Lab, lifting (weights) and getting stronger,” he said. “I have also been throwing bullpens and learning both the mental and physical side of pitching from Tom Myers.”
Myers is an area scout supervisor with the Chicago Cubs, owner and director of the Santa Barbara Grizzlies Baseball Club and a personal pitching coach.
“He was always supportive of whatever school I was leaning towards, providing his deep baseball knowledge whenever I had questions or needed help,” Hoover said.
In his work with Myers this summer, Hoover said he’s improved his change-up, “which I can now confidently throw in any count.”
Hoover ended the shortened high school baseball season at San Marcos in fine form.
He threw a complete-game two-hitter and struck out 12 in a 3-1 road win over Royal on Feb. 18.
On Feb. 29, he threw five shutout innings and struck out nine in a loss to Nipomo.
Then, in a crosstown battle at Channel League favorite Santa Barbara High, Hoover pitched out of jam with the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh. With runners at third and second in a 1-1 game, he struck out the next three hitters and the game ended in a tie because of darkness. He struck out 10 and walked two in four innings of relief.
Hoover said he was surprised when coaches started showing interest early in the summer.
“It was surprising, of course, to find that your hard work has begun to pay off, but as we moved through the summer and into the school year I knew this is what was right for me,” he said of the early commitment. “Being in the recruiting process for five months, the commitment was not out of impulse but after much consideration.”