- Full name Luke Anthony Hochevar
- Born 09/15/1983 in Denver, CO
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Tennessee
- Debut 09/08/2007
Drafted in the 1st round (1st overall) by the Kansas City Royals in 2006 (signed for $3,500,000).
View Draft ReportRated the second-best college starter in the 2005 draft, Hochevar tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 15 wins and led Tennessee to the College World Series. He was a candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Diamondbacks, but his signability dropped him to the Dodgers at No. 40. On Labor Day weekend, Hochevar switched agents from Scott Boras to Matt Sosnick and agreed to a $2.98 million bonus. Then he switched back to Boras, reneged on the deal and accused the Dodgers of trying to force him into a bad deal. Aiming to re-establish his worth for the 2006 draft, Hochevar has joined the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association. His first two starts drew a flock of scouts, and he lit up the radar guns from 90-97 mph with his fastball. Hochevar also showed his mid-80s slider, and he can turn to a curveball and changeup. His command isn't as sharp and his stuff starts to drop by the fourth inning, both products of his long layoff. He has had trouble repeating his delivery, but overall he has looked just as he did early in 2005. The Dodgers still control his rights through May 29, but it's unlikely they can sign him to a deal in which both sides could come out as winners.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Hochevar took a winding path to professional baseball. Selected 40th overall by the Dodgers in 2005, he backed out of a $2.98 million bonus deal that September and showcased himself with a stint in the independent American Association the following spring. The Royals made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 and signed him for a $5.25 million big league contract that included a $3.5 million bonus. Hochevar's stuff was impressive in his first full pro season, though he went just 4-9, 4.86 in the minors before getting a September callup. Hochevar pitches off a 92-93 mph fastball that reaches 95 and also mixes in a two-seamer with heavy sink. His big, late-breaking curveball will become an above-average pitch once he shows the ability to command it better. He throws his curve in the mid-80s and can use it to freeze hitters or to bury it in the dirt. He used his slider more when he was in college and still employs it as a chase pitch. Hochevar battled wildness at times in 2007, primarily because of his tendency to spin off the mound toward first base. When he does that, he leaves his pitches up in the strike zone and they flatten out. He largely corrected the problem by the end of the season by focusing on landing in line with the plate. His changeup still needs fine-tuning. Armed with a five-pitch arsenal, Hochevar needs to improve his command to become a frontline starter. His performance in spring training will determine whether he opens 2008 in Kansas City or Triple-A Omaha.
A candidate to go No. 1 in the 2005 draft, Hochevar dropped to the Dodgers at No. 40 because of signability. Negotiations took a strange turn that September, when he switched agents and agreed to a $2.98 million bonus, then switched back to Scott Boras and declined to sign. After a sharp stint in the independent American Association, he did go No. 1 to the Royals in June. Hochevar got a $3.5 million bonus and $5.25 million guarantee as part of the first major league contract the Royals have given to a draft pick since Bo Jackson in 1986. Hochevar features a lively four-seam fastball that sits at 92-93 mph and touches 95. He complements his fastball with a plus-plus late-breaking curveball that he can throw for strikes or bury for strikeouts. He worked more with a slider in college, but the Royals wanted him to focus on his curve and have been pleased with the results. His changeup is a usable third pitch, and he has good overall command of his entire arsenal. Because of his tendency to land on his heel, Hochevar's fastball command can be inconsistent. His changeup can use further improvement. He signed late, so he has just 38 pro innings under his belt at age 23. The Royals sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get more experience, but he left early with shoulder fatigue. Hochevar's shoulder problem isn't considered serious, and he could earn a spot in Kansas City's Opening Day rotation with a strong spring training. More likely, he'll begin the season at Double-A Wichita, where he finished 2006 in the Texas League playoffs, and make his big league debut later in the year.
Minor League Top Prospects
The first overall pick in 2006, Hochevar made his Triple-A debut less than a year after signing and his big league debut in September. While he didn't overpower PCL hitters, Hochevar maintained his 92 mph velocity, touching 94, and held his mechanics late into games. He looked comfortable in Triple-A, and after struggling initially posted a 2.88 ERA and a 22-7 K-BB mark over his final 25 innings. Hochevar's hard, late-breaking curveball developed into his best breaking ball, and he threw it for strikes as well as a bury pitch. His slider got better as the year wore on, and his changeup remained a usable fourth pitch. After coming down with shoulder soreness in the 2006 Arizona Fall League, Hochevar stayed healthy in 2007 and made 26 minor league starts. Like almost every young pitcher, Hochevar struggled with his command at times, and more consistency in that department could enable him to reach his ceiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
On a team that lacked both talent (Wichita's 56-84 record was the worst in the league) and fans (the team drew a league-worst 113,368 in its last season before moving to Springdale, Ark.), Hochevar stood out with his potential top-of-the-rotation stuff. He'll always be under the microscope, both because he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 after holding out from the 2005 draft and because he's one of the few Royals pitching prospects with premium stuff. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s with good late movement, and his curveball, slider and changeup all were good pitches at times. "His whole repertoire makes him," Cole said. "There's not one devastating pitch." Yet managers said his results didn't seem to match his stuff, particularly early in the season. Some said it seemed at times he was trying to get everyone out himself and overthrew, though he pitched with more confidence later in the season.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the Kansas City Royals in 2007