Aug. 3, 2006
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Royals agreed to terms on a major league contract Thursday with right-hander Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Hochevar will sign the contract on Saturday and will be placed on the Royals' 40-man roster. Hochevar becomes the second player in Royals' history to sign a major league contract out of the draft. The other was Bo Jackson in 1986, a Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn and the first overall pick by Tampa Bay in the National Football League draft.
Hochevar is only the fourth No. 1 overall pick in the past 20 years to sign a major league contract, joining Alex Rodriguez (1993), Pat Burrell (1998) and Delmon Young (2003).
The Los Angeles Dodgers took Hochevar with the 40th overall pick in the 2005 draft, but he rejected a $2.98 million bonus and re-entered the draft. He then started four games for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association, going 1-1 with a 2.38 earned run average and striking out 34 in 22 2-3 innings.
"We are excited to get Luke signed in a timely fashion, which is a tribute to Luke and the Glass family (who own the Royals)," Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "We see Luke as a topflight 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."
The Royals did not disclose contract terms, but Hochevar was believed to have received a guaranteed $5.2 million over the length of the contract with incentives that could boost that to about $7 million.
Hochevar will be assigned to Class A Burlington but will report first to the organization's year-round complex in Surprise, Ariz., for conditioning workouts. He is tentatively scheduled to make his first appearance Aug. 16 for Burlington against South Bend.
He is tentatively scheduled to make four starts for Burlington before attending the Instructional League and participating in the Arizona Fall League.
The 22-year-old Hochevar went to Tennessee, where he was 15-3 with a 2.26 ERA as a junior and led the Vols to the 2005 College World Series. His 15 victories tied the school record for a season. He also established a Tennessee record with 154 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .204 average. He threw three complete games, including a one-hitter at Auburn.
A right-hander, Hochevar (pronounced HO-chay-vur) was a consensus All-America selection in 2005 and won the Roger Clemens National Pitcher of the Year Award.
In three years, Hochevar was 25-10 with a 3.05 ERA in 51 career appearances for Tennessee, including 33 starts and six complete games. His 287 career strikeouts ranked second in Tennessee history.
He throws a fastball in the 92-mph range and has a good overhand curveball.
Hochevar went to Fowler High School in Colorado and was coached by his father, Brian, who played for the Denver Nuggets in 1979, while his mother Carmen played college basketball and volleyball at Southern Colorado. In 2004, he was on Team USA and pitched an outstanding game against Japan.