Royals, Hochevar Agree To Terms

Royals give former Tennessee righthander contract similar to Pelfrey

The wait is over. Luke Hochevar will play Organized Baseball.

The Royals announced they have agreed to terms on a major league contract (through 2009) with Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2006 draft. Hochevar's deal is reported to be similar in scope to that signed by Mets righthander Mike Pelfrey, which was worth a guaranteed $5.3 million, with a bonus of $3.5 million.

Like Pelfrey, Hochevar was a first-team All-American, is represented by agent Scott Boras and was a first-round pick in 2005. Pelfrey went ninth overall and already has pitched in the major leagues after signing his contract in January. Hochevar, who went 40th overall (in the supplemental first round) to the Dodgers in last year's draft, went through a long, difficult holdout that led him to re-enter the 2006 draft.

As with several other Boras holdouts, the maneuver worked for Hochevar. After agreeing to (and then changing his mind and declining) a $2.98 million contract with the Dodgers last year, Hochevar pitched in independent ball, flashed three plus pitches and improved his draft standing. He not only went No. 1 overall, but he signed a contract that guarantees him more than 60 percent more money than he declined from the Dodgers last September. His contract also is believed to have escalator clauses in it for being on the 25-man big league roster, which could swell the overall value of the deal to close to $7 million.

Hochevar, 22, will sign the contract on Saturday and be placed on the Royals 40-man roster. He is the fourth No. 1 overall pick in the last 20 years to sign a major league contract, joining Delmon Young (2003), Pat Burrell (1998) and Alex Rodriguez (1993). It's also the first major league contract signed by a 2006 draft pick. North Carolina pitchers Andrew Miller (sixth overall, Tigers) and Daniel Bard (28th overall, Red Sox) and Missouri righthander Max Scherzer (11th overall, Diamondbacks) remain unsigned among first-round picks, while the Yankees have agreed to terms with righthander Ian Kennedy (drafted 21st overall) but have not made the $2.25 million contract official.

"We are excited to get Luke signed in a timely fashion, which is a tribute to Luke and the Glass family," Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier said in an official statement. "We see Luke as a top-flight talent and a key part to our future success. We’re pleased he’ll be able to perform this season and begin working toward reaching the Major Leagues."

Prior to the draft, Hochevar was pitching for the Independent League Fort Worth Cats, where he posted a 1-1, 2.38 record in four starts. The Royals did not indicate if Hochevar would pitch in 2006 with a minor league team or not, but the fact that he signed a 2006 deal (as opposed to a 2007 contract) seems to indicate that he will. A press conference has been scheduled for later today.