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Royal buzz in Omaha, too

5/5/2009

Joe Posnanski writes about the buzz in Kansas City, and Ryan Young writes about the buzz in Omaha. Well, sort of ...   Hochevar

    It's not quite the same as the Zack Greinke buzz resonating from Kansas City these days, but Omaha Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar is receiving his own attention in the minors.
    Hochevar, the organization's No. 1 overall draft pick in 2006, was chosen the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week after going 2-0 while allowing one unearned run and six hits in 13 innings last week.

    He hadn't been notified yet when asked about the award over the phone Monday afternoon.

    "That's a great honor. I'm pretty fired up about it," he said upon hearing the news.

    Hochevar, 25, made 22 starts for Kansas City last season, going 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA.

    Despite solid spring training stats this year, he was sent to Omaha.

    Admittedly disappointed about the assignment initially, he's made the most of his time there.

    Hochevar is 5-0, winning all of his starts so far, with a league-leading 1.13 ERA. He has 21 strikeouts and 10 walks in 32 innings.

My feeling before the season was that Hochevar belonged in the big club's rotation. Not because his performance in the majors has earned him the job; he's got a 5.21 ERA in the majors with lousy peripherals. Not because he earned it in spring training; you know how I feel about spring training. Rather, simply because he's 25 and was, three years ago, the first pick in the June draft. You might as well see what you've got, especially considering that he's already on a major league contract.
Oh, and because he didn't figure to be any worse than Sidney Ponson or Horacio Ramirez.

The Royals sent him back to Omaha anyway. Maybe it was idiotic, as Ponson and Ramirez have both been awful. Maybe it was brilliant, as perhaps Hochevar needed to learn something in Nebraska. Either way, it's not likely that he's got a great deal more to discover in Omaha, and the Royals need to get him to a bigger cow town before he shears a ligament or something.

One note of caution, though ... If you adjust Hochevar's performance for the difference between the Pacific Coast League and the American League, his stats would look something like this: 28 innings, 18 strikeouts, and 12 walks. I hope you'll pardon me for not feeling all buzzy inside.