June 18, 2009
David Lane said former Mississippi State center fielder Grant Hogue canâ€™t get to Greeneville, Tenn., fast enough.
Lane, the manager of the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League, believes Hogueâ€™s speed on the basepaths will make him an instant weapon when his team begins competition Tuesday.
â€œ(Speed) obviously sets him apart from most outfielders,â€ Lane said.
Hogue, a 35th-round pick of the Houston Astros, signed a contract this week and reports today to Greeneville.
In two seasons with the Bulldogs, Hogue stole 54 career bases, which is tied for fourth in school history.
Hogue was third in the Southeastern Conference this season with 29 stolen bases, the second-most in a single season at MSU, in 34 attempts. Dan Van Cleve had 38 stolen bases in 1985.
â€œI was pretty excited to see he had the most stolen bases there since 1985 and heâ€™s coming here,â€ Lane said. â€œLast year, we had Jay Austin, who was taken in the first round, and he was very speedy. He was a leadoff hitter, and weâ€™re always looking for that type of player.â€
Along with Hogueâ€™s baserunning ability, Lane knows his new outfielder brings more to the game. Hogue hit .315 and drove in 22 runs from his leadoff spot this season.
Lane considers Hogue to be a steal.
â€œBased off Grantâ€™s stats and the talks Iâ€™ve had with my boss in Houston, it looks like a good pick, especially in the 35th round,â€ Lane said. â€œWeâ€™ve always looked for gems like that late.
â€œWhat he batted as a senior is outstanding, and I was looking at some video of Mississippi State and their stadium is big like ours, so heâ€™s not going to be shell-shocked when he gets here.â€
Greeneville is approximately a 10-hour drive from Hogueâ€™s home in Hattiesburg. Hogue said itâ€™s a dream come true to get a chance to play professional baseball, and feels fortunate the Astros have given him the opportunity.
â€œThey told me I would be in the rookie short season until this year is over and most guys will stay here,â€ Hogue said. â€œOnce I report to spring training next year, everything is at my own pace and depends on how hard I want to work.
â€œThey say the minor league system is a little bit depleted right now, so thatâ€™s good for me. They were positive about me moving up, but itâ€™s all about how you perform. Hopefully, I can do something to help myself.â€