In recent years, Texas fans have become accustomed to commits vanishing before making it to the 40 Acres. The lack of compulsory college playing time before being selected in the MLB draft means that players who commit to Texas often sign with professional teams instead of becoming Longhorns. As recently as 2011, Texas fans felt the sting of a highly-touted recruit not making it to campus when Josh Bell made a 180 on his plans and turned pro at the last minute. So when news broke that Klein Collins standout shortstop CJ Hinojosa, a starter on the varsity squad since his freshman year, had committed to Texas, we all held our collective breath. By his junior year, Hinojosa was already popular with the scouts (John Klima of Baseball Prospect Report went so far as to say, “if some of the media could marry this guy, they would.”), and he had the stats to garner attention from around the country. In 2011, Hinojosa batted .405 with 38 runs, 45 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 16 home runs, and 12 stolen bases. He was selected to the West Roster for the 2011 Perfect Game All American Classic, one of the premiere prep baseball events across the country, and he was also a member of the 2011 Texas Rangers Area Code Team. Hinojosa also earned high praise from his high school coach, Miguel Carlos, who told Christian Corona of The Daily Texan, “You know how they talk about how the game slows down for kids? I think that’s what happens with this kid. He just sees everything at a different level.”
The plan was for Hinojosa to graduate one semester early and enroll as a Longhorn in time to play the 2012 season, but due the grueling schedule and online college coursework, this didn’t come to fruition. Hinojosa decided to finish high school in the normal timeframe, and planned to suit up for the Tigers of Klein Collins once more in the spring. After less than a dozen games with his high school team, Hinojosa elected to undergo surgery on his left (non-throwing arm) shoulder after suffering an injury diving for balls up the middle. Unable to compete for the rest of 2012, Hinojosa’s draft stock slid. When June rolled around, the Houston Astros drafted CJ in the 26th round. After being drafted, Hinojosa told the media, “It’s awesome. It’s a dream come true. I didn’t get picked where I wanted to be, but I knew with the injury that wasn’t going to happen. But I still had the dream of having my name called.”
Luckily for Longhorn fans, Hinojosa decided to forgo signing with the Astros, and will play for Texas. Fans have raised their suspicions about Hinojosa since his commitment was announced, and he will quickly find out just how high-pressure Longhorn Baseball can be. However, as CJ told Connor Glassey of Baseball America, he thrives on doubters, remembering the words of his grandfather. “He always told me, ‘Don’t ever let people tell you you can’t do something,’ So I love whenever somebody doubts me or tries to put me down because it never works.” We believe Hinojosa will be a standout player for Augie Garrido, and expect to see him in the lineup from day one. CJ was nice enough to answer a few questions for us recently, and told us about his injury and his choice to become a Longhorn.
TBB: What made you choose Texas?
CH: Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a Longhorn and wear the burnt orange, so it was a very easy decision for me to pick UT over all of the other schools
TBB: What are your expectations for the team and yourself this season?
CH: I hope that we come together as a team and make a run this post season to Omaha. As for myself, I want to do whatever I have to to contribute to winning every ball game we play this year.
TBB: What did facing your injury last season teach you about adversity?
CH: My injury has taught me a lot actually. It has taught me that you can’t take things for granted because the thing you love the most can be taken away in a blink of an eye. Also it has taught me that God has control over everything and he has a plan for everyone.
TBB: You have been highly covered in the media since committing to Texas – is there anything you think the fans should know about you?
CH: I’m a hard working kid that’s just trying to live my dream and I’m ready for any adversity that stares me in the eyes.
TBB: Who is your favorite former Longhorn? Favorite MLB player?
CH: The Rocket! And my favorite MLB baseball player is Robinson Cano – I even named my dog “Cano”.
You can keep up with CJ as he embarks on his college career by following him on Twitter @CJ_Hinojosa.
Photo: Donald Boyles