Tyler Naquin isn’t the only player from the 2009 Klein Collins High (Spring, Texas) team who could be a premium draft pick in June. C.J. Hinojosa was a 5-foot-9, 150-pound freshman who played for the varsity that year.
“It was a no-brainer because of his skill level,” former Klein Collins head coach Kent Meador said. “He just had a knack for the game. He just knew, instinctively, so many things that make a player of his caliber. . . He didn’t play like a freshman, I’ll tell you that.”
Hinojosa is a natural shortstop, but the team had seniors manning the middle infield. Still, he beat out a junior for the starting third base position.
“I’ve always had the mentality that I’m going to be the best I can be,” Hinojosa said. “So I wasn’t really intimidated. I was ready to go out there and take my spot because it wasn’t given it to me. So I went out there and, as everybody says in Texas, I took the bull by the horns.”
Hinojosa is used to being one of the younger players on his teams. He played above his age group growing up, made varsity as a freshman and was the second-youngest player on Team USA’s 16-and-under gold medal team in 2009. If he had it his way, he’d be the youngest player at Texas this spring. Hinojosa was trying to graduate early to skip his senior year of high school, but even with his seven classes at school and three more online courses at night, he couldn’t finish everything in time.
So he’s back at Klein Collins for his senior year and has decided to use wood bats in games. At the plate, Hinojosa drives the ball to all fields with authority. He has no problem with velocity, shows great plate coverage and a strong understanding of the strike zone. Hinojosa has good bat speed and surprising pull power for his 5-foot-11, 185-pound size.
Even though he has smooth actions, quick hands and solid arm strength, some scouts may question whether he’ll be able to remain at shortstop long-term because he’s not a plus runner—but don’t tell him that.
Hinojosa said he’s driven by doubters. He has a tattoo of the word “Believe” on his wrist to remind him of his grandfather’s advice to always believe in himself.
“He always told me, ‘Don’t ever let people tell you you can’t do something,’ ” Hinojosa said. “So I love whenever somebody doubts me or tries to put me down because it never works.”
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