San Luis Obispo Rattlers catcher Chris Hoo had several options when choosing where to play his college baseball. But for Hoo, it all came down to family.
Hoo’s brother, Michael, just completed his first year with the Cal Poly baseball team and his sister is also a recent graduate. His parents have a home in Avila Beach, so that they can enjoy the experience of seeing their sons play together again next year.
Playing against summer collegiate baseball’s second-ranked team nationally, Hoo showed why he was such a touted recruit with three hits and several key stops defensively in a 4-2 loss to the Santa Barbara Foresters on Thursday at SLO Stadium.
I knew I had to swing at all the fastballs I saw,” Hoo said. “They know that I’m young so they’re just going to challenge me with fastballs.”
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After a standout year at St. Francis High in Cupertino, Hoo was named to the all-state second team as a catcher. He said he chose to play for the Rattlers in order to allow Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee to keep an eye on his development and to better acclimate himself with the Central Coast before classes start.
“It’s a lot easier for him to see me here,” Hoo said. “It’s easier for me to call him and see if there’s anything I’m doing wrong.”Rattlers manager Roy Howell and his staff have developed several future Cal Poly players, including this season’s Big West Freshman of the Year, Mitch Haniger.
“(Assistant coach) Casey Belt is working with Chris every day,” Howell said. “They work on the positioning and he blocks the ball very well.
“The basic thing that Larry wanted us to work on was his throwing. He didn’t have anything wrong getting the ball out, but there was something going on with his throwing motion, and Casey has helped him get that straightened out.”
Howell added that some of the things that Hoo has improved on the most are things that won’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet.
“He’s physically calling the ballgame,” Howell said. “We’re putting that on a kid that hasn’t played a day of college baseball. But you have to learn these things, and you have to learn your pitchers.”
Hoo is getting a chance to learn with several Cal Poly pitchers also on the Rattlers roster, including probable Friday starter Mason Radeke and key reliever Jeff Johnson.
“I’m getting to know them a lot more and making it a lot easier to catch them in a game situation compared to just showing up in fall ball and seeing what they have,” Hoo said.
The Rattlers had a 2-1 lead heading into the ninth inning but allowed three runs in the top of the inning and couldn’t recover.
San Luis Obispo’s closer Marc Damon left the team earlier this week after a lifelong friend was killed in Afghanistan.
“He felt bad and I told him it’s way more important than anything we’re going to do here and the guys know that,” Howell said. “Stuff like that happens and you go with what you’ve got.”
San Luis Obispo Blues 13, MLB Urban Academy Barons 5
Matt Juengel had four hits, including a double and scored three runs to lead the Blues (25-14, 19-10) to a series victory in Compton.Chad Christensen added three hits as San Luis Obispo scored in all but two innings.
The Blues pounded out 16 hits, including two each by Cory Burleson, Dylan Gavin and Andrew Collazo.
Kennedy Winn got the victory in relief, throwing 32⁄3 innings of hitless relief with one strike out and no walks.