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Prospect Profile: Luke Hochevar

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The Luke Hochevar story is well-known, here is the stream-of-conciousness summary:  University of Tennessee ace, drafted by the Dodgers in the supplemental round in '05 due to scary bonus demands, Scott Boras, acrimonious negotiations, re-enters '06 draft pool and goes first overall in '06.

There is nothing wrong with Hochevar's stuff: 91-95 fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, complete arsenal. His command is fine, or actually I shouldl say that his control is fine: he usually throws strikes. Sometimes his command within the strike zone is an issue, missing high and leaving pitches elevated too much, leading to homers. He throws strikes, but they aren't always quality strikes, at least this is the problem I saw with him at Wichita and Omaha last year.

Ah, yes, Hochevar's pro performance: it's been mixed, certainly not quite what the Royals were hoping for. 4.69 ERA with 94/26 K/BB in 94 innings, 110 hits allowed for Wichita. Then 5.12 ERA with 44/21 K/BB in 58 innings for Omaha, 53 hits allowed. He gave up 24 homers in the minors last year. He was better at Omaha this year, with a 2.60 mark in three starts and a 12/6 K/BB in 17.1 innings. And of course he's up in the majors now, with mixed results in his two starts for the Royals.

Watching Hochevar pitch last year, there was a sense of the whole being less than the sum of the parts: his stuff was usually really good, but he'd get hit harder than you'd expect. Part of it was probably substandard defense behind him, but there was also a sense that he was still feeling his way around the strike zone, as I said he was throwing strikes but not always good strikes. He's looked a bit better in that regard this year.

PECOTA comps are interesting: Kris Benson, Jason Young, Chris Bootcheck, dewon Brazelton, Bryan Bullington, Gavin Floyd, Greg Gohr, Kyle Abbott, Justin Verlander, Brett Myers are the top ten. Others include Carlton Loewer, Adam Wainright, Justin Wayne, Jon Garland, and Roger Salkeld...mixture of busts and successes. 

Hochevar turns 25 in September. I think he'll be a good pitcher, with some very good seasons at times, but I will be surprised if he develops into a real rotation-anchor type ace. Baseball Prospectus put it well this year: "Hochevar should settle in as a consistent, if homer-prone, number three starter. The Royals could have done worse, but they should have done better" in the sense of having selected him first overall.