For the second year in a row, Boise High grad James Hoyt was the last player cut from the Houston Astros’ roster ahead of Opening Day.
The Astros optioned the 30-year-old right-handed reliever to Triple-A Fresno during an emotional day Friday, according to the Houston Chronicle. Hoyt has yet to suit up on Opening Day.
“I just had a conversation with James Hoyt, who’s a major league pitcher,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said in a shaky voice. “And he’s going down to Triple-A.
“I feel terrible for him because he deserves to be a big leaguer.”
The 2005 Boise High grad quit baseball after posting an 18.82 ERA as a senior at Centenary College of Louisiana and began cleaning boats in San Diego. Two years later, he paid $100 to tryout for an independent league. He played professionally in Mexico before catching the eye of an Atlanta Braves scout, and the Braves later traded him to the Astros.
Hoyt earned his first call up to the majors in August, posting a 4.50 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 22 innings last summer for Houston.
Hoyt and Jandel Gustave battled for the Astros’ final bullpen spot this spring, posting similar numbers. Hoyt concluded spring training with a 2.89 ERA over 9 ⅓ innings, but he’ll return to Fresno to start the season.
“It’s a business,” Hoyt told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s hard. It’s like letting someone go. I’m a part of this team. At the end of the day, you’ve got to let someone go. Hopefully it’s not for too long and I’ll be up here soon.”