Hochevar Impressive In Cats' Debut

Luke Hochevar's first exhibition start for the independent league Fort Worth Cats was impressive, as the former Tennessee righthander flashed plus stuff in three innings of work.

In front of a large number of scouts, Hochevar touched 97 mph with his fastball, throwing a number of 95 mph fastballs and also showing an above-average breaking ball.

"He had a real good downhill plane," said a scout who watched his first start. "He threw fastballs right by guys at the knees. These are 27-year-old guys who have been around. They are more apt to put the balls in play than someone at Vanderbilt."

The righthander struggled in his first inning of work, but settled down over the second and third innings. He allowed two runs on three hits, walking four and striking out four.

Hochevar will have five more starts before the June draft, but his first appearance went a long way to establishing as one of the best pitchers in this year's draft class. Nearly 30 scouts were in attendance for his first appearance of the year.

"You can't afford not to see him. He ranks up there with the Millers, Lincecums, Lincolns and Morrows," the scout said. "He threw with more flat out stuff than he did at this time last year."

There's still a question of whether Hochevar will even be in this year's draft. The Dodgers took him in the supplemental first round (40th overall) last year, and retain his rights until May 31. The Dodgers almost signed him last fall, when over one weekend, Hochevar dropped Scott Boras as his agent and his new agent Matt Sosnick worked out a deal for $2.98 million with the Dodgers. But Hochevar changed his mind and rehired Boras as his agent, turning down the deal.

Hochevar is scheduled to make his first regular season start for the Cats on Saturday. If he doesn't reach a deal with the Dodgers, he is scheduled to take a regular turn in the Cats rotation until June 4, two days before this year's draft.

Will Kimmey contributed to this report