March 14, 2013
The Royals liked Luke Hochevar more than most other teams in June 2006, when they made the University of Tennessee standout the first overall pick in a draft that also included Evan Longoria, Brandon Morrow, and Tim Lincecum. Seven years and numerous plot twists later, it appears that the Royals still hold the right-hander in higher regard than their counterparts around the league.
Dayton Moore’s price tag turns teams away from Hochevar
Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck speculated a few months ago that Hochevar, a Denver native, could fit with the Rockies, but talks between Dan O’Dowd and Moore never came to fruition. And, since then, rumors involving Hochevar have been few and far between, even though his growing salary—eventually set at $4.56 million by an agreement reached on January 18 to avoid arbitration—and the lack of a guaranteed rotation spot in Kansas City appeared to portend a ticket out of town.
Yet, for all of the signs that suggested a trade was in the hopper, Hochevar reported to the Royals’ spring training facility in Surprise, Arizona, last month and is still a member of the organization that preferred him to the other high-ceiling talents available in the 2006 draft. Last September, manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that Hochevar was on the verge of turning the corner, that consistency was the only barrier remaining in his long-awaited ascent to ace-level performance, and that focusing on three or four pitches instead of employing a six-deep arsenal could yield the desired results.
That article ran on September 10, and in his four regular-season starts after it was published, Hochevar coughed up 22 earned runs in 24 innings of work, allowing opponents to amass a .340/.393/.540 triple-slash line just weeks after he delivered one of the best outings of his major-league career. Then, after Moore’s additions forced him to compete to retain his spot in the rotation, Hochevar was charged with six runs over eight innings in his first three Cactus League appearances, and his underwhelming start led Yost to yank him from the race with nearly three weeks left to go.
Royals pare their fifth-starter competition down to four