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Sunday, September 10, 2006

 

Hochevar Takes Wichita to the Championship

It was his first Wichita start, and it was a game that could have sent the team to the championship series. Luke Hochevar had never faced this level of talent before. He was still being worked in after spending most of the year off the mound. He hadn't picked up a win so far in his professional career. Fans wanted to see what the first overall pick, Kansas City's $5 million draft pick, was capable of. The pressure was on in so many different ways and Luke Hochevar came through big.

The pressure was on for Luke, but he didn't care. In a report filed for MLB.com, he was reported as saying "I wasn't nervous, more amped than anything. I was ready to get after it and attack hitters." He also added, "I feel like I executed pitches better than at any time in the Minors. Early on, I had very good command. Velocity-wise, I was amped, so the ball was coming out a little better." It sounded like he brought the same mentality to Wichita that he was known for in Tennessee. He took the first games seriously even though he wasn't playing. He used the time to measure up the other batters and figure his strategy for his own start.

Hochevar did pitch a good game, going 5.1 innings with 2 runs and 7 strikeouts. He had a no-hitter through those first five innings but struggled a little in the sixth as he gave up those two runs. However, the Wranglers had built up a comfortable 7-run lead before then so it wasn't a problem. Things got close when Neal Musser and Gabe DeHoyos gave up four runs but the Wranglers held on the the win.

Look for Luke to get one more start as the Wichita Wranglers try to win the Texas League Championship. If the series goes to game 5, he might be valuable in a relief role after his start, but I wouldn't expect the team to push him too hard.

Here's his line:
5.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 Ks, for the Win

Monday, September 04, 2006

 

Promoted to Wichita

I was gone on vacation for the week but it was a pretty good week for Luke Hochevar. Here are the lines he put up while I was gone:

August 26, 2006, Burlington vs. Kane County:
3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

That's a solid outing and he had another one I missed where he looked more mortal.

September 1, 2006, Burlington vs. Quad Cities:
6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 K, Loss

The two runs he gave up were home runs but the important part is that they're finally letting go of the pitch count and letting him show what he's capable of. While he got his first loss, he must have looked good because the organization still decided to promote him to Double-A Wichita afterwards. They have made the playoffs so Luke will get a little more playing time. With the way their rotation is, it wouldn't surprise me to see Luke get a start. Their two main starters have ERAs over 5.

So to close off the Burlington chapter of Luke's career, hopefully for good, here's his season line:
0-1, 15.1 IP, 16 K, 1.17 ERA, .148 AVG, 2 BB

Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

Solid Start Against The Swing

Luke Hochevar made his second start of the year against the Quad Cities Swing and got a better chance to show what he's capable of with a 50 pitch limit. He threw four shutout innings with three strikeouts. He did give up a hit, a walk and hit a batter but was still described as "dominant". Unlike his last game, the Burlington Bees did hold on for the win. He should get two more starts this season, since Burlington will not be making the playoffs barring a complete miracle.

For the short summary, here's Luke's line:
4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Friday, August 18, 2006

 

First Start in Burlington

Luke Hochevar made his first professional start with the Class-A Burlington Bees Wednesday, August 16. He looked good despite being limited to only two innings and 32 pitches. Hochevar struck out two, giving up no hits and the only blemishes on record were a wild pitch and an error by Mario Lisson.

Keep in mind that it was only Class-A ball so a dominating performance doesn't mean as much. But the best part about this start is his confidence and his chance to test out his pitches again in a game situation. As reported by the official Royals site, he said, "I was able to get into counts where I can use all my pitches. That was really the key, where I could sharpen all my pitches and get into that mode." The Kansas City Star also pulled a nice quote out of him that shows this confidence when he told them “When I step on the mound, I ask myself every time, ‘Am I prepared for this?’ I’ve never said no. It’s not nervous. It’s more like, ‘I finally get to prove this.’ ”

Hochevar is set to pitch again Monday against the Quad Cities Swing and will get a better chance to show his stuff with his pitch count bumped up to 50. It looks like the main goals during his Burlington stint are just to get his pitch count higher and work on developing his change-up.

Monday, August 14, 2006

 

Getting Ready for the First Start

Luke Hochevar has been getting ready for his first start, which looks like it'll go as scheduled this Wednesday. The Kansas City Star is reporting that Luke's only scheduled to throw 30-35 pitches. I was a little disappointed at the low pitch count, but it makes sense. There's no point in overworking someone who has a long offseason ahead of him. It looks like this Burlington stint is just something to get him warmed up for the Fall league.

Friday, August 04, 2006

 

Luke Signed, Placed on 40 Man Roster

Luke Hochevar has finally been signed. What everyone's reporting is that it's worth $5.3 million guaranteed with a $3.5 million signing bonus and can reach $7 million with incentives. The contract lasts through 2009.

But what's more exciting to me is that it sounds like the Royals have a good idea of what they want to do with Luke. He's being assigned to Class A Burlington, where he could be starting as early as August 16. He won't get too many starts with the minor league season ending soon but will get some offseason work in the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League. His next stop is expected to be Double-A Wichita for the start of the next season. So he won't be contributing quite as quickly as I thought when he got drafted but this is a quicker progression than I was expecting after the signing delay.

Friday, July 21, 2006

 

Moore Sounding Positive

According to the Kansas City Star, Royals general manager Dayton Moore is sounding confident about the Hochevar negotiations. He said he feels "very comfortable with the direction of the negotiations" and expects to get him signed. They're not giving out specific details on the latest offer, but here's what the front office is dishing out:

The Royals are believed to be offering terms similar to those the Mets reached in January with right-hander Mike Pelfrey, a Boras client who was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Pelfrey’s deal included a $3.5 million signing bonus and guarantees sweetening the overall value to $5.3 million. It also contained escalator clauses that further boost the value if he is on the major-league roster in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

$5.3 million is a pretty nice deal for a prospect even though I'm not expecting him to remain a prospect for long. I read a tidbit on the Official Royals Site about how he's keeping in shape through simulated games and may play fall or winter ball. I'm just looking forward to the day when I get to update after one of those games instead of posting the weekly contract negotiation update.


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