Kansas City Royals Success May Depend On Luke Hochevar

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Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Suffice to say Luke Hochevar’s career statistics as a starting pitcher in the major leagues have been less than what Royals fans, management, and ownership had hoped for when the team drafted  Luke Hochevar number one overall in the 2006 MLB draft.

His career line of 43 wins, 61 losses, with a 5.10 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and only 613 strikeouts in 841.1 innings, a line that includes his dominating bullpen performance this past season when he went 5W-2L with, 1.92 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings, does very little to inspire faith in his abilities coming into 2014.

Problem is, the Royals may well be counting on Hochevar to duplicate, and in fact improve upon his 2013 performance if they are to compete for the division title this season. Hochevar has been a bit of an enigma for the Royals and their fans since coming to the squad for good in 2008.

Certainly coming out of college from the University of Tennessee, Hochevar had all the makings of a front-of-the-rotation guy. He posted an impressive 25-10 record for the Vols with a 3.05 ERA in 51 career appearances.

His 287 career strikeouts ranked second in school history and he looked like a star major league pitching prospect. Hochevar led the Volunteers to a College World Series appearance in his junior year at UT posting a dominating 15-3 record on the season with a 2.26 ERA in 19 starts.

He was named a consensus first-team All-American by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger, and Sports Weekly and he won the Roger Clemens National Pitcher of the Year Award. In 2005 he was a finalist for both the Golden Spikes and Brooks Wallace awards and at the end of 2006, he was named Tennessee Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

By all accounts, Hochevar looked to be a sure-fire star in the Major Leagues. So what happened? The Kansas City Royals drafted him, and that’s when things got weird.

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