Destin Hood Looks To Fulfill Promise With Indians

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Hood Will Attempt To Prove That 2014 Wasn’t A Mirage

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During the winter there is nothing that will get fans attention like a  good free agent signing, a trade for an accomplished player, or acquiring another organizations top elite prospect.

While these signings and trades receive a lot of attention the other signings can create quite an impact on the following seasons roster as well and many times there is a good story behind them.

The Cleveland Indians had one of these under the radar signings two years ago when they signed left handed starter Scott Kazmir out of the winter league and invited him to spring training. At the time of the signing Kazmir had not pitched in the major leagues since April 3, 2011 and had last pitched stateside in an Independent League with the Sugar Land Skeeters. He played a key role in the Indians making the post-season in 2013 posting a record of 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA.

On December 7th the Indians signed right handed hitting outfielder Destin Hood whose path through the National minor league system has been slow but seemed to have had his breakout in 2014.

He was a football start in Alabama and played on the same team as Mark Barron and AJ McCarron on a team that won the Alabama 5A State Title in his senior year. He was a wide receiver and if he was going to play college football he was going to play at Alabama where he had signed a letter of intent.

Despite his high profile in football he admittedly lacked the passion for football telling Lindsay Kramer of Syracuse.com “As soon as football season was over, I was in the (batting) cage,’ I mean, it (football) ain’t for me. Are you telling me you would like to do something you don’t love for the rest of your life?”

When the team won the state championship in football Hood recalls his teammates celebrating in the locker room afterwards saying, “”I don’t love it like that,” he said. “I watched them in the locker room, they really loved the game of football. But at the same time, watching them, I had that for baseball. I was in the side of the locker room, like, when’s baseball going to start?”

He  was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2nd round (55th overall) of the 2008 draft out of St. Pauls Episcopal School in Mobile Alabama and signed for $1.1MM.

After signing he reported to the Nationals squad in the Gulf Coast League where he appeared in 25 games.

Prior to beginning his first full season in professional baseball he was ranked as the Nationals 7th best prospect by Baseball America whose report said, “Scouts long have marveled at Hood’s electrifying bat speed, which translates into plus raw power. He swings and misses a lot now, but he keeps the barrel of the bat in the zone for a long time and projects to hit for average as his approach matures. He has a strong, athletic frame and average to plus speed.”

He spent the 2009 season with the Gulf Coast Nationals where he played in 25 games hitting .330 (29 for 88) before being promoted to the Nationals Low-A affilate Vermont Lake Monsters where he struggled batting just .246 (34 for 138) in 38 games.

The 2010 season was a productive year as moved up to the Nationals Class-A affiliate Hagerstown Suns playing in 129 games and batting .285/.333/.388. He seemed to take another step forward in 2011 with the Nationals High-A affiliate Potomac Nationals playing in 128 games batting .276/.364/.445 and added 13 home runs.

Many players find their first real resistance when they reach Double-A ball and it was with the Nationals Double-A Harrisburg Senators in 2012 that flaws became evident in Hood’s game. In just 89 games with the Senators he posted a depressing slash line of .245/.301/.344 with just three home runs.

After struggling in 2012 he opened the year with the Senators in 2013 and his career seemed to have bottomed out posting a slash line of  .224/.278/.327 with just four home runs in 429 plate appearances and added a strike out rate of 27% (119 strikeouts in 392 at-bats).

He opened the 2014 season in the familiar surroundings of Harrisburg and after just 19 games he was batting .329 (24 for 73) was finally promoted to the Nationals Triple-A affiliate Syracuse Chiefs.

He finished the season with the Chiefs appearing in 84 games posting a slash line of .294/.334/.482 with 10 home runs in 334 plate appearances lowering his strikeout rate to 19.5% (65 strikeouts in 309 at-bats).

More than likley Hood will open the 2015 season playing for the Indians 2015 Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers squad. If he can continue to progress as he did in 2014 his right handed bat may get an opportunity at some point during the year.

He also has had success throughout his minor league career against left handed pitching. Since reaching Class A baseball in 2010 he has posted a slash line of .274/.349/.423 with 16 home runs spanning 691 plate appearances against southpaws.

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