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Sunday, June 11, 2006

 

The Plan for Hochevar

Here's a quick update, thanks to the Official Kansas City Royals site. The site is reporting that GM Dayton Moore is planning on getting Luke to one of their Class-A affiliates once he's signed. It's sounding like Hochevar won't be rushed up, which is probably a smart decision given how little baseball he has played this last year. When talking about the independent league he signed with for the spring, the level of competition was compared to Class-A, borderline Double-A, so assuming Luke can keep it up once he signs, I would expect him to move up to Double-A quickly.

Friday, June 09, 2006

 

Luke's Mental Game

The Kansas City Star published a good article highlighting a side of Luke that I never took into consideration before: his mental game. I never thought about it when seeing him in Tennessee but he always looked confident and prepared on the mound. Here are some highlights:

The night before the Royals picked him No. 1 in the draft, Luke T Hochevar pitched against the New York Yankees. It wasn’t Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who got rocked for eight runs in less than two innings on Monday night, at least in Hochevar’s mind.

Hochevar (pronounced HO-chay-vur) sat on his couch in Knoxville, Tenn., and visualized every pitch Beckett threw as if it were his own. His buddies, who were watching with him, could only laugh. There goes Luke with his Jedi mind tricks again.

“I catch grief all the time,” says Hochevar, who pitched three years at Tennessee. “They’ll be like: ‘Luke, go do some mental exercises. Go mentally prepare for your simulated bullpen.’ That’s fine, as long as I’m prepared.”

I thought that was neat, but this was the part of the article that's really convincing:

“He was polished,” says Tennessee pitching coach Mike Bell, “but always seeking knowledge.”

Bell was astonished with Hochevar’s three-hour workouts.

“You hear stories about the professional guys — Clemens, Schilling,” Bell says. “But on the collegiate level, I’ve never seen anything close.”

Hochevar started meeting twice a week with Tennessee director of mental training, Joe Whitney, during his sophomore year, and he hasn’t stopped since. During the Tennessee season, they’d go over the opposing lineup at each meeting, and Hochevar said he felt as if he had faced each batter twice before the game even started.

“He has one of the strongest mental games of anyone I’ve worked with,” Whitney says. “He’s at the top of the list as far as his ability to compete under pressure, to prepare for a game and his ability to stay in the present.”

•••

“I’m going to be the hardest worker, not just in the minor leagues but also at the major-league level,” Hochevar says. “I take so much pride in how I get after it. I expect that out of myself.”



And in addition to that article, I found an interview he did after the draft with Royals Corner

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

 

Luke Hochevar Taken First Overall



Luke Hochevar has been selected with the first overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Kansas City Royals.

Wow, I was expecting Luke to be taken high, but this is incredible. I was expecting him to be taken 10th at best, but scouts were impressed with his performance in his independent league despite the rust.

I think Kansas City could be a surprisingly good fit too. Despite their terrible performance this year (14-41 at the time of this post), I thought they had a fairly talented team. It does look like they're serious about improving and since their major weakness is pitching, I'd say there's an outside chance that Luke gets some playing time in the majors this year. However, since their season's probably over already, I'd say that it's more likely he gets held back and starts next year in Kansas City at the earliest.

As for the contract situation, they are willing to spend the money and it sounds like they're making more progress now than the Dodgers did all year. Luke even seems to be looking forward to playing for the Royals. "It's definitely a humbling honor to go [first] to a great organization," he said. "To go first overall is definitely humbling. I'm ecstatic and ready to put my head down and work hard for the Kansas City Royals." Credit goes to the Royals web site for providing that one. It's a good, in-depth article too. It gives a little more background info than I did. Things are looking good for Luke Hochevar and with the way this is starting, it looks like it could be a fun ride.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

 

Who is Luke Hochevar?

This is a blog dedicated to tracking the professional baseball career of pitcher Luke Hochevar. Luke had an illustrious career with the University of Tennessee, where he first caught my attention. Once you see him in action, it’s easy to see why. Hochevar has a fastball that hits the mid-90’s as well as a nice changeup, an incredible curveball, a good slider and a sinker. He is capable of pitching the entire game and is simply as complete a pitcher as you can find.

This will be the third time Hochevar gets drafted and will be my second attempt at following his career. The first time, he was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers and felt he should have gone to college, especially since he was only selected in the 39th round. It was a good decision since Dodgers scouting advisor admitted after the 2005 draft that “he's improved a lot since high school". He was picked in 2005 by the Dodgers, with the 40th overall pick. However, a variety of factors kept him from signing, such as his indecision as to whether to go back for another year at Tennessee as well as the tough negotiating of Scott Boras combined with the excess of pitching that the Dodgers already had in their farm system.

Since then, Hochevar has been playing in an independent league to keep his pitching sharp. He will be re-entering the draft in 2006, and could be selected even higher now that he doesn’t have a last year of college to fall back on. Experts are predicting that he could be selected in the top 10, despite sticking with Boras as his agent. Personally, I think he would be a good fit with the Nationals, who have the 15th overall pick. The Dodgers pick 7th and 26th. Do they take a fourth chance on him? We’ll find out in two days when the MLB draft begins on June 6th.

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