Kansas City Royals Success May Depend On Luke Hochevar

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Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luke Hochevar (44)Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Hochevar made his minor league debut with Double-A Wichita posting a decent but unimpressive line of 3W-6L, a 4.69 ERA, a 94/26 K/BB ratio, and 110 hits given up in 94 games, including 13 homers. The Texas League, traditionally a hitter’s league that yields inflated offensive numbers didn’t do him any favors but many who followed the league felt his problems ran deeper.

Although many felt his stuff was just fine, he just didn’t seem able to put it all together.

John Sickles, noted baseball scout, analyst, and columnist noted,

"“…the stuff was fine (92-94 MPH, curveball, slider, changeup all plus offerings at times), but he tended to leave pitches high in the strike zone, got behind in the count too often, and did not show the polish or feel for pitching that was expected.”"

Of course, as the number one overall pick, the Royals were invested and apparently attributed his struggles just to adjusting to professional baseball and the Texas League. He was promoted in 2007 to Omaha where he produced a similar stat line; 1W-3L, 5.12 ERA, with a 44/21 K/BB in 58 innings, allowing 53 hits and 11 homers in only 10 starts.

Again, his stuff appeared to be solid but the end result never seemed to measure up. Sickles indicated that many had begun to question Hochevar’s mental toughness and noted that he assigned Hochevar a grade of B entering the 2008 season writing, “Hochevar could end up being a really good pitcher, or he could languish in mediocrity, at least for awhile.”

In an almost too-funny-to-be-true twist of fate, Sickles wrote of Hochevar in 2010,

"In some ways he reminds me of Jeremy Guthrie, a similar package of talent who took some time to figure out the pro ranks."

Of course, Guthrie is now a teammate of Hochevar’s on the Royals and is a member of the starting rotation. What were the odds right?

Sickles, who lives in the Kansas City area expressed his frustration in watching Hochevar in the Royals starting rotation from 2008-2010 writing,

"“What’s wrong with him? He flashes dominating ability at times…but he hasn’t been able to maintain it for long…it is often infuriating to watch him pitch; you can see his natural ability but the results aren’t there. Sometimes it just doesn’t look like he knows what he’s doing, but other times he looks terrific.”"

Royals fans can certainly relate. Hochever has been the ultimate enigma since joining the squad, possessing so much talent and yielding so few results.

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