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Second Time's A Charm

June 8, 2005
By Jill PainterLOS ANGELES--If at first you don't succeed, try again. That's the philosophy the Dodgers are taking with Luke Hochevar.

Hochevar, a righthander out of Tennessee, was the Dodgers' first pick in Tuesday's draft (40th overall). L.A. drafted Hochevar out of Fowler High (Fowler, Colo.) in the 39th round in 2002 but were unable to sign him.

Scouting director Logan White, who was in his first year as director when he drafted Hochevar, said he took a flyer on him since he was all but set on going to college. Hochevar, regarded one of the top pitchers in the draft, slipped because of signability concerns since he is represented by Scott Boras.

The Dodgers were surprised Hochevar was available but not shocked.

"It's something we prepared for," White said. "Anytime you do a draft, you always want to prepare for the unexpected. We were prepared that something like this could happen. We weren't caught off guard."

The 21-year-old has a plus fastball that sits in the 93-94 mph range, slider, curveball and changeup. He went 15-2, 2.13 in 127 innings for the Volunteers this season. He threw at least five innings in each of his 17 starts and had three complete games.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder has suffered no major injuries during his college career, although he was hit in the head with a line drive at Tennessee.

He also comes from an athletically-gifted family. He played prep baseball at Fowler and was coached by his father, Brian. Hochevar was also Colorado's player of the year in basketball for Division II in high school. Brian played for the Denver Nuggets in 1979 and Luke's sister, Brittany, is a pro volleyball player.

When the Dodgers couldn't sign him, White said Hochevar would be a first-round pick in three years. He was right.

There's no immediate concern to sign Hochevar since he is pitching in the College World Series. But the Dodgers would rather avoid a situation like Jered Weaver's, a Boras client who signed with the Angels just before having to re-enter the draft.

"I think every situation is different," White said. "I'd hate to compare guys or situations to each other. These kids are different."

The Dodgers took infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. with their second pick. DeJesus Jr., drafted out of the American Military Academy in Puerto Rico where he hit .365, is the son of former big league shortstop Ivan DeJesus. His father is now coaching in the Astros' system at high Class A Salem.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

It was no surprise that high Class AVero Beach third baseman Andy LaRoche was named the Florida State League's player of the month. In May, he batted .357-14-25 with seven doubles and 30 runs scored in 112 at-bats.

Blake DeWitt, a third baseman at low Class A Columbus, hit for the cycle on June 5. DeWhitt, had a double in the first, home run in the third, single in the fifth and triple in the sixth.

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