Royals select right-hander Hochevar with No. 1 pick

Updated: June 7, 2006, 7:29 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Luke Hochevar held out for a year, gave the draft another try and came out on top.

Law: Red Sox get steal
I had North Carolina right-hander Daniel Bard at the top of my list from the Cape Cod League last summer. He featured two plus pitches, held his velocity and threw strikes. Bard's command came and went this spring, but it was due to his struggles to maintain his arm angle rather than something more concerning like a medical issue.

To read more of Keith Law's breakdown of the first round, click here.

The Kansas City Royals made the big right-hander the overall No. 1 pick Tuesday, a year after Hochevar and agent Scott Boras failed to reach a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"The Dodgers felt I was not worthy to be paid with the top pitchers from last year's draft," Hochevar said.

After Boras spoke to the Royals on Monday night and early Tuesday, they took the former University of Tennessee ace.

"I think everybody knew we had the top pitcher in the draft, the top value player in the draft," Boras said. "We haven't talked any specifics about dollars and cents."

Said Hochevar: "The plan is to get going."

"It's up to the club. Whenever they're ready, we're ready," he said.

The sons of former big league stars Doug Drabek, Don Mattingly, Jesse Barfield, Carney Lansford, Chet Lemon and Gary Roenicke were among the players picked in the opening rounds of the two-day draft.

Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy and Pirates hitting coach John Shelby also had reason to celebrate -- their kids got chosen, too.

Hochevar was taken 40th overall last year by the Dodgers. The Royals, picking No. 1 for the first time in franchise history, weren't afraid to take a chance.

The 6-foot-5 Hochevar (pronounced HO-chay-vur) stayed in shape by playing for the independent Fort Worth Cats.

"I'm fresh and I'm game ready," he said. "When the time comes, I'll head out and start pitching my tail off for them."

Top 10 picks from 2006 MLB draft
Royals Luke Hochevar, RHP Fort Worth (Ind.)
Rockies Greg Reynolds, RHP Stanford
Devil Rays Evan Longoria, 3B Long Beach State
Pirates Brad Lincoln, RHP Houston
Mariners Brandon Morrow, RHP California
Tigers Andrew Miller, LHP North Carolina
Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, LHP H.S. (Dallas)
Reds Drew Stubbs, OF Texas
Orioles Bill Rowell, 3B H.S. (Sewell, N.J.)
Giants Tim Lincecum, RHP Washington

Hochevar, a Golden Spikes finalist in 2005, is the first right-hander to go No. 1 overall since Pittsburgh took Ball State's Bryan Bullington in 2002. The Royals' previous highest selection was No. 2 last year, when they took Nebraska third baseman Alex Gordon.

Colorado selected Stanford 6-foot-7 righty Greg Reynolds with the second overall pick. The Cardinal ace is 6-5 with a 3.36 ERA, and has excellent command of 94-95 mph fastball late into games.

Making far from a desperate pick, Tampa Bay took Long Beach State third baseman Evan Longoria -- not related to "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria -- and signed him moments later. Generally considered the best college position player in the draft, he was the MVP of the Cape Cod League last summer and the co-Big West player of the year after hitting .353 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI.

The Devil Rays handed out Eva Longoria's bio, along with Evan's, in announcing their selection. Longoria said he's been asked about whether he's related to the actress since the hit television show began two years ago.

"It's fun," he said. "I deal with it the way I know how to. It's probably going to be there for a while. You just take it when it comes."

Next, Pittsburgh selected Houston right-hander/first baseman Brad Lincoln, one of the country's top two-way players. He'll make his name in the pros on the mound, where he has a fastball that hits the mid-90s consistently through games, along with an outstanding curve and still-developing changeup.

"I just want to get my feet wet quick and get up there to wherever they send me and get going," Lincoln said.

California righty Brandon Morrow went fifth to Seattle. Morrow, who has one of the top-rated fastballs in the draft, is a Type I diabetic who checks his blood sugar between innings and wears a computerized pump hooked to the skin near his stomach to provide constant doses of insulin. Teams weren't concerned about health issues because Morrow has excelled at all levels while dealing with the condition.

"He was good with our doctors," Mariners scouting director Bob Fontaine said. "We investigated it, like any club."

First player in each draft to reach majors
Year MLB Debut Player, Team
2005 8/20/2005 Joey Devine, Braves
2004 4/06/2005 Huston Street, A's
2003 7/19/2003 Ryan Wagner, Reds
2002 7/10/2003 Kevin Correia, Giants
2001 5/22/2002 Mark Prior, Cubs
Source: Elias Sports Bureau

North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller, who was considered by the Royals for the top pick, went sixth to Detroit. Miller, a Golden Spikes finalist and the Tar Heels' career strikeouts leader, was the highest-drafted unsigned player from 2003 (Tampa Bay, third round).

"It's a lifelong dream and it finally came true," Miller said. "I thought it came true three years ago, but I went to college and it worked out well."

The Dodgers took Texas high school lefty Clayton Kershaw with the first of their two first-round picks, and selected Motlow State (Tenn.) C.C. righty Bryan Morris at No. 26. Morris was back in the draft after failing to reach an agreement with Arizona, which took him in last year's third round.

University of Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs went next to Cincinnati, followed by New Jersey high school infielder Bill Rowell to Baltimore. San Francisco rounded out the top 10 picks by taking Washington right-handed strikeout artist Tim Lincecum.

Texas high school right-hander/shortstop Kyle Drabek, son of the former Cy Young winner, went 18th overall to Philadelphia.

"I was just trying to keep things calm for him," Doug Drabek said. "I know for Kyle, his focus is the state tournament."

Indiana high school shortstop Preston Mattingly, the son of the former Yankees star, went 31st overall to the Dodgers. His dad, Don, was a 19th-round pick in 1979.

The World Series champion Chicago White Sox took Texas righty Kyle McCulloch, the ace of last year's College World Series champs, with the 29th pick.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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