Luke Hochevar

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Luke Hochevar
Luke Hochevar on June 22, 2016 (1).jpg
Hochevar with the Royals in 2016
Pitcher
Born: (1983-09-15) September 15, 1983 (age 37)
Denver, Colorado
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
September 8, 2007, for the Kansas City Royals
Last MLB appearance
July 24, 2016, for the Kansas City Royals
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 46–65
Earned run average 4.98
Strikeouts 702
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Luke Anthony Hochevar ( /ˈhvər/ ; born September 15, 1983) is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played college baseball at the University of Tennessee, and played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Kansas City Royals.

Contents

Early life

Luke Hochevar was born in Denver, Colorado, raised in Wiley, Colorado, and later moved to Fowler, Colorado, with parents Brian and Carmen Hochevar along with one brother and one sister. [1] His father was a college basketball player at the University of Southern Colorado (now CSU-Pueblo) [2] who had an unsuccessful tryout with the Denver Nuggets [1] and who later turned to coaching, including serving as Luke's baseball coach at Fowler High School. [3] While at Fowler High, Hochevar was named Colorado Division 2A Player of the Year his senior year and was a three-time all-state selection. [1] He was a multi-sport athlete, earning all-state honors in basketball. Hochevar excelled in the classroom as well, and was named an academic all-state four consecutive years. [1]

College career

Hochevar was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 39th round (1,191st overall) of the 2002 MLB amateur entry draft but chose to attend college at the University of Tennessee instead. Hochevar was used primarily as a relief pitcher during his freshman year for the Volunteers, striking out 73 batters and walking 24 in 77 innings of work. [1] After the 2003 season, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. [4] His sophomore season was injury plagued for Hochevar; he missed a total of eight weeks playing time. However, he was good enough to be selected for the USA Baseball National Team, earning the victory in the FISU II World University Baseball Championship against Japan. [1] Hochever bounced back as a junior, striking out a school record 154 batters, posting a 15–3 record, and 2.26 ERA for the season. [1] For his efforts he was named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year and won the Roger Clemens Award. [5]

Professional career

Draft and minor leagues

The Dodgers would select Hochevar again, this time in the first round (40th overall) of the 2005 draft. After initial negotiations between the Dodgers and Hochevar and his agent Scott Boras, Hochevar switched agents to Matt Sosnick and accepted a $2.98 million signing bonus from scouting director Logan White. [6] However, the next day Hochevar changed his mind on switching agents, returning to Boras and reneging on the deal. [6] Several months of lukewarm talks continued, but amidst much bitterness, the two sides never came close to reaching a new agreement. [7]

He entered the draft yet again in 2006 and was selected first overall by the Kansas City Royals. On August 3, nearly two months after the draft, Hochevar signed a four-year major league contract worth $5.3 million guaranteed with the Royals. [7] He received a $3.5 million signing bonus with the ability to earn as much as $7 million over the four years.

Kansas City Royals

2007–2010

Hochevar made his major league debut September 8, 2007 in a game against the New York Yankees. In four appearances, Hochevar had a 0–1 record and a 2.13 ERA.

In 2008, he had the lowest run support of all pitchers, with an average of 2.8 runs per game started, finishing with a record of 6-12. His ERA though, was a high one, finishing at 5.51 in 22 starts.

Following the Royals' 2009 spring training, he was optioned to the Triple-A Omaha Royals to learn to "use both sides of the plate with more consistency" and to stay away from big innings. [8] He was called up to the Royals starting rotation on May 10. [9]

In his 2009 debut, Hochevar lasted just two innings and surrendered eight runs. On June 12, 2009, Hochevar pitched an 80 pitch complete game, only allowing 3 hits and 1 run; this was a feat that had only been accomplished by 5 pitchers in American League the previous 20 years. [10] On July 25, 2009, Hochevar recorded a career high 13 strikeouts in 7 innings in a 6–3 win over the Texas Rangers. On September 18, 2009, Hochevar threw his first career shutout in an 11–0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Despite these accomplishments, Hochevar struggled with his consistency through the '09 season, posting the highest ERA of AL starters (6.55) while going 7-13.

In his first start of the year on April 7, 2010, Hochevar threw 723 scoreless innings in a 3–2 win in 11 innings over the Detroit Tigers. Through June 2010, Hochevar was 5–4 with a 4.96 ERA. He was on the Disabled List with a right elbow strain from mid-June until September. He finished the year at 6–6 with a 4.81 ERA.

2011–2013

Hochevar with the Royals in 2011 Luke Hochevar on May 25, 2011.jpg
Hochevar with the Royals in 2011

Hochevar was the Royals' opening day starter in 2011. At the All-Star break, he had a win-loss record of 5–8 with a 5.46 ERA. He fared significantly better after the break, ending the season with an 11–11 record and a 4.68 ERA. Also notable was his 1.28 WHIP.

Hochevar's strong finish in 2011 suggested that he might emerge as a top-quality starting pitcher in 2012. Instead, he experienced a disappointing season, finishing with an 8–16 record and a 5.73 ERA. [11] He allowed more earned runs than any other major league pitcher, and his -1.7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was the worst of his career.

On January 15, 2013 Hochevar filed for salary arbitration, the only Royals player to do so in the off-season, and the second year in a row that he has done so. In 2012, he and the team settled on a $3.51 million one-year deal. [11] The Royals announced on January 18, 2013 that they had reached agreement with Hochevar on a one-year contract worth $4.56 million, thus avoiding arbitration. [12]

On March 13, 2013. Royals manager Ned Yost announced that Hochevar would not begin the season in the starting rotation. Hochevar was instead assigned to the bullpen for middle relief duties. In that role, he performed effectively for the Royals, posting a 1.92 ERA in 70.1 innings. He also struck out 82 batters while walking only 17.

2014–2016

During a Spring Training game against the White Sox on March 3, 2014, Hochevar suffered an elbow injury and left the game. An MRI the following day showed a tear of the UCL in the right elbow. On March 7, 2014 Royals officials confirmed the injury and stated Hochevar would be undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair the damage. [13] The surgery caused Hochevar to miss the entire 2014 season. [14]

On December 3, 2014, Hochevar signed a 2-year, $10 million agreement with the Kansas City Royals. [15] He made 49 appearances in the 2015 season, with a record of 1-1, 1 save, and an ERA of 3.73. [16] Hochevar was the winning pitcher in the deciding Game 5 of the World Series. It was the Royals' first championship in 30 years.

In 2016, Hochevar made 40 appearances, finishing the year 2–3 with a 3.86 ERA. On November 5, 2016, the Royals declined their 2017 option on Hochevar, making him a free agent for the first time of his career. [17]

On August 13, 2018, Hochevar announced his retirement. [18]

Pitching style

Hochevar had a wide variety of pitches: a four-seam fastball and sinker that averaged about 93 mph, a cutter averaging 89, a slider at 85, a curveball in the high 70s, and a changeup in the low 80s. He used five of the pitches to both right-handed and left-handed hitters, eschewing only the slider to lefties and the changeup to righties. His wide pitch variety could make him unpredictable to hitters; even in full counts, Hochevar threw his four-seamer, sinker, cutter, and slider in roughly equal proportions. [19]

Personal

Hochevar comes from a family of athletes. In addition to his father's college basketball career and success as a high school and college baseball coach, Luke's sister Brittany was a volleyball standout at Long Beach State and currently plays beach volleyball for the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tour. [1]

In August 2016, Hochevar had surgery to repair nerve damage in his throwing arm caused by thoracic outlet syndrome. [20]

Hochevar and his wife, Ashley, married in January 2007. They have two daughters and one son. [21]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Player bio: Luke Hochevar". University of Tennessee Sports Information Department. 2006. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  2. "The last Hochevar could be the best". denverpost.com. May 3, 2007.
  3. Lopez, Larry (October 9, 2012). "3-sport wonder: 'Hoch' was South High triggerman in early '70s". The Pueblo Chieftain via website. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  4. "Major League Baseball Players From the Cape Cod League" (PDF). capecodbaseball.org. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  5. Molony, Jim (June 6, 2006). "Royals tab Hochevar as No. 1 pick". MLB.com . Retrieved March 9, 2009.
  6. 1 2 "Hochevar Negotiations Get Weird". Baseball America website. September 9, 2005. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  7. 1 2 "Should Royals give up on No. 1 draft pick Hochevar". Baseball Nation. June 4, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  8. Royals Option Hochevar to Omaha SI.com, April 1, 2009
  9. Kaegel, Dick (May 10, 2009). "Closer Soria place on disabled list". MLB.com. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  10. Kansas City Star, June 12, 2009
  11. 1 2 Kaegel, Dick (January 15, 2013). "Hochevar only Royals player to file for arbitration". MLB.com via KC Royals official website. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  12. Kaegel, Dick (January 18, 2013). "Royals sign Hochevar to avoid arbitration". MLB.com via KC Royals team werbsite. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  13. "Royals Pitcher Luke Hochevar to have "Tommy John surgery"". KSHB-TV via website. March 7, 2014. Archived from the original on March 8, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  14. "Royals RHP Hochevar having season-ending surgery". ESPN.com. Associated Press. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  15. http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/103043692/luke-hochevar-reportedly-agrees-to-re-sign-with-royals
  16. "Luke Hochevar - Kansas City - Major League Baseball - Yahoo! Sports". Yahoo Sports.
  17. Wilmoth, Charlie (November 5, 2016). "Royals Decline Luke Hochevar's Option". mlbtraderumors.com. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  18. Flanagan, Jeffrey (August 13, 2018). "Hochevar retires from Royals with no regrets". MLB.com. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  19. "PITCHf/x Player Card: Luke Hochevar". BrooksBaseball.net. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  20. Max Rieper (April 18, 2017). "Luke Hochevar's 2017 season likely a "wash"". Royals Review. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  21. "Luke Hochevar's family spends spring training in Surprise". Fox 4. Retrieved December 21, 2017.