Hochevar a mistake?

Switcheroo... The Open Thread for today's Spring Training Royals-Rangers tilt is over in the Diaries, while "marbotty"'s post gets flipped over to the front page.-RR

Baseball America released its top 100 prospects list recently, and here's a quick rundown of the Top 11:

  1. Matsuzaka
  2. Gordon
  3. D. Young
  4. P. Hughes
  5. H. Bailey
  6. C. Maybin
  7. Evan Longoria
  8. B. Wood
  9. J. Upton
  10. Andrew Miller
  11. Tim Lincecum
Notice those guys in bold.  They were all taken in last year's draft.  

For comparison's sake, let's see where the Royals 2006 draft pick, the number one overall, was listed:

32. Luke Hochevar

At least he made the list, right?  Considering he's one of only three Royals to make the cut, perhaps we should just be grateful.  That said, it's hard not to be a little disappointed that the Royals seemingly could have done better with their pick.  That's not to mention that he's actually behind another 1st round draft pick from last year's draft, Clayton Kershaw, who clocked in at 24 on the list, just ahead of our own Billy Butler.  

Let's take a look at the guys that beat out "The Hoch."

Evan Longoria, if you recall, was universally considered the best college bat in the draft, so it's no surprise he cracked the Top 10.        
Considering the Royals already had two promising 3rd basemen in their system in Mark Teahen and Alex Gordon, and virtually no pitching prospects, it's hard not to fault them for opting for pitching help.  

But what about the other guys?

Andrew Miller and Tim Lincecum were two names you would hear bandied around a lot when it came to predicting the number one pick.

Miller was considered the most polished arm in the draft, and was viewed as a semi-consensus #1 pick. (Baseball America, for example, had him going first overall).  Lincecum, on the other hand, looked to potentially have more upside than Miller, owning a superior K/9 and an electric arm.  The question wasn't really whether one of them would go first overall, but which one.

Sure, both weren't without questions.  There was   some concern that Miller, as a Scott Boras client, might be difficult to sign.  Lincecum, despite his amazing stuff, had a bit of an awkward  throwing motion that scared some scouts away (and some teams away who were concerned about losing their pick to a future injury.)  

Ironically, Miller signed a day before Hochevar, more or less negating any advantage of drafting Hochevar as an "easy sign."  Also ironically, Hochevar, not Lincecum, ended up being shutdown in the 2006 season with a minor shoulder strain.  

This is not to say Hochevar didn't pitch well, though.  He compiled a nifty 1.17 ERA in 4 starts in Burlington, with 18 Ks in 17 innings.  While he struggled a bit in the AFL, there was still plenty of reason for optimism.

However, while Hochevar was putting away hitters in A ball, Miller was already pitching (and pitching well) for Detroit's ML club.  Lincecum, for his part, was absolutely dominating batters in high A, striking out almost two batters an inning, for a remarkable 48 Ks in just under 28 innings.  

Now that Hochevar has the opportunity to play a full minor league season, perhaps he'll reward the Royals front office's faith in him with a superior performance in Wichita.  The old adage says there's no such thing as a pitching prospect, so the Royals Nation will keep their fingers crossed that he can develop into at least the next Jeff Montgomery, instead of the next Jeff Austin.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.