Wave’s chances still solid

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

For a guy who was cut after spending a year in Class A ball, Josh Hoffpauir thought he finally had his break.

New team, new outlook, new level of minor league ball, and for the first time, a new assignment. Hoffpauir got the call midway through this summer to move up to Class AAA Ottawa in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization after he playing up until that point at Class AA Bowie.

&uot;They called me at 9 o’clock in the morning and told me to pack my bags,&uot; said Hoffpauir, the former Vidalia High School standout. &uot;The flight was scheduled to leave out at 2 o’clock. I was all excited.&uot;

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Then the phone rang again.

Hoffpauir needed a passport or a birth certificate to make the trip, being that Ottawa is in Canada. He had neither, and he had to pass on the assignment while teammate Napoleon Calzado got the call to join the Lynx.

&uot;My birth certificate was in Bowie in my car,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;They had went with a Latin guy because he had his passport with him.&uot;

But give credit to Hoffpauir, who didn’t let that deter his season and flirted with .300 later before ending at .289. And he spent it serving as a utility guy in every sense of the word &045; he played every position outside of pitcher, catcher and first base &045; while finishing the season with 356 at-bats, fourth-highest on the Baysox.

&uot;I’m not disappointed with the season, I guess,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;I had my ups and downs, but it was good. I would have liked to have hit for a little more power, but I hit for average and played a few different positions. I would have liked to have been in AAA, but all in all, it was OK.&uot;

Although the Baysox used him all over the diamond, Hoffpauir spent a good portion of the season in left field while playing sparingly at second base &045; former LSU standout Mike Fontenot was the main starter &045; and even was DH’d at times.

&uot;I played outfield in college,&uot; he said. &uot;It wasn’t that big of a transition. I played 20-25 games (at second). I had a good showing when I played at second base. I had an error at second base all year, and that was on my first ground ball of the year. After that, I was fine.&uot;

Hoffpauir admits his power numbers will have to come up as he hit just two dingers this season despite slapping 21 doubles while getting 356 at-bats and driving in 33 runs.

&uot;Strength is something I’m really going to strive for,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t know if I didn’t get as stronger as I should have been, but sometimes people say strength comes with age.&uot;

Now Hoffpauir goes into the offseason waiting on the Orioles’ next move. They have until Oct. 15 to re-sign him, and after Oct. 23 he can sign as an unrestricted free agent with another club. He’s also got a new agent, Marcus Evans out of Laurel, who handles a number of ex-USM players such as Clint King and Bob McCrory.

&uot;He’s working on some things,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;To be honest, I probably won’t re-sign with those guys. I’d really like to play second. That’s probably my best shot to make the big leagues.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3632 or by e-mail at