Hinojosa's dream come true

Kendall Rogers

Published: Monday, August 29, 2011

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MORE COVERAGE: C.J. Hinojosa's All-American experience

Add middle infielder and Texas commitment C.J. Hinojosa to the suddenly growing list of Perfect Game All Americans and top class of 2012 recruits who have chosen to spurn the 2012 MLB draft to enroll in college.

Chris Harvey, another Perfect Game All-American, got the trend started a couple of weeks ago when he announced he was skipping his high school senior season to immediately enroll at Vanderbilt this fall. He’s already with coach Tim Corbin’s club.

Though he wasn’t a PG All-American Classic participant, catcher Taylor Gushue, another high-profile prospect, announced a few days later he was skipping his high school senior season to enroll early at Florida.

Unlike Harvey, Gushue will continue high school this fall before joining the Gators in January.

Hinojosa, who still has some high school courses to complete before he can enroll at the University of Texas, plans to join Augie Garrido’s program in January.

“From my point of view, I had always been looking forward to going to college. And honestly, a lot of guys didn’t believe me,” Hinojosa said. “They just said you’re just saying that. Now it has come to reality and it’s a great opportunity. Honestly, it’s a win-win situation for me.”

Harvey and Gushue are two of the better prospects in the 2012 class, but there’s no question Hinojosa is on a slightly different level as a prospect, making his early enrollment one of college baseball’s most intriguing offseason stories.

Despite the interesting timing of Hinojosa's announcement after Harvey and Gushue, his plan to enroll early at Texas has been in the works for some time. Hinojosa began talking to the Longhorns about the possibility of doing so over a year ago, and he and the UT coaching staff had kept in contact about it since that point. Hinojosa's final decision was put on hold so he could compete in the PG All-American Classic.

Hinojosa made his final decision regarding the matter upon returning from the All-American Classic, and it's one that he's comfortable with, and certainly not shying away from at the last second. Hinojosa, 17, certainly feels like he has plenty of work to do and goals to accomplish before he's ready to embark on a professional baseball career.

"To be honest, I know I can improve my game in so many ways. If you watched me in batting practice, you'd always see me critiquing things. I'm the type of guy who just likes to think about things, and improve on them," he said. "I think going to Texas is going to be great for my baseball career. I'm definitely going to be much more prepared for things once 2014 rolls around than I am now."

Hinojosa, who aims to replace departed Texas All-American shortstop Brandon Loy, potentially leaves a lot of money on the table with his early enrollment, as he was expected to be a high-round pick. Interestingly, Hinojosa’s desire to enroll early only was increased through his relationships with first-round picks Blake Swihart and Francisco Lindor – both of whom signed for $2.5 million and $2.9 million, respectively.

"The more he thought about it, was potentially $1.2 or $1.5 million life-changing money? No, not really, not after Uncle Sam took his portion of it," Patrick Navarro, Hinojosa's step-father, said. "It truly isn't equal to what his education and life experiences the next few years can bring to the table. We weren't going to put a price tag on that."

Barring a surprise, the talented middle infielder is expected to make significant contributions in his first season with the Longhorns. The 'Horns will be without All-American shortstop Brandon Loy. And though losing Loy is huge for the 'Horns, Hinojosa's addition will at least provide some stability from an offensive standpoint.

“Hinojosa has very good present strength and top level hitting tools with a balanced approach and very good lower half use with aggressiveness. He attacks the ball,” Perfect Game Director of Scouting David Rawnsley said in a recent scouting report. “He also recognized pitches very early, looks to pull and has exceptional bat speed. He compares very closely to fellow Houstonian Anthony Rendon at the same age.”

Hinojosa is ranked the No. 13 high school prospect nationally, No. 2 in the State of Texas, and No. 1 at the middle infield position by Perfect Game.

“The way I look at it, it’s the same game I played when I was three-years-old, it really is. It’s about the money, but it’s also not about the money,” he said. “I just enjoy playing the game of baseball, that’s what I live to do. Now I get to attend college at Texas, meeting new people, all while playing in a premier program.”

Call it a win for Texas. And another one for college baseball.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at kendall@perfectgame.org

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