Peter Gammons wrote:More than 50 scouts were in Fort Worth to watch Luke Hochevar on Monday night in an independent American Association exhibition game.
Oh yes. Mopping up in relief was Matt Harrington, beginning his fourth season as a Fort Worth Cat.
Hochevar could be back in the June 6 draft if the Dodgers do not get him signed before June 4. While L.A. scouting director Logan White was in attendance, there seems to be industry-wide doubt that the Dodgers will be able to sign Hochevar. Which, since this may be the weakest draft since 2000, could put Hochevar up in the top 10 picks.
You may or may not know the story. Hochevar, a junior at the University of Tennessee, was considered a tough sign because of Scott Boras and lasted until the 40th selection, in the sandwich round. The Dodgers originally could not get him signed, but when Hochevar switched agents from Boras to Matt Sosnick, a deal was worked out for $2.98 million.
Only Hochevar jumped back to Boras, the deal was off the table, and the 22-year-old right-handed pitcher is a Fort Worth Cat. Like the 24-year-old Harrington.
"Hochevar was pretty impressive," says one major league executive. "He was 92 to 97, and sat regularly at 94-95. He's healthy, which everyone wanted to see. He does tend to spin at the end of his delivery which makes it tough for him to get in on right-handed batters, but he's a quality prospect in a year when there aren't many quality arms."
The question in most scouting directors' minds is what it will take to sign Hochevar, and whether he is willing to risk sitting around for another year and becoming a repeat Cat.
If $2.98 million is not enough ...
Maybe he should ask Harrington how he enjoys his day job. Matt was a top-10 pick once, the seventh pick in the 2000 draft. He turned down $4.1 million from the Colorado Rockies, but had no school to attend and had to get a day job.
After the Colorado fiasco, Harrington switched agents from Tommy Tanzer to Boras, and in 2001 was drafted in the second round by the San Diego Padres. At the advice of Boras, he turned down more than $1 million.
In 2002, Harrington was drafted in the 13th round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2003, he was drafted in the 24th round by the Cincinnati Reds. In 2004, he was drafted in the 36th round by the Yankees.
In 2005, he finally went undrafted and was -- and still is -- free to sign with any major-league team.
That hasn't happened. He is entering his fourth season with Fort Worth, for whom he has pitched in 62 games with a 10-11 record and 4.00 ERA.
"Harrington was throwing 84-85," said the executive. "His stuff wasn't close to what it was six years ago. It was very sad."
Hochevar pitches in a regular-season game on Saturday night. Harrington might mop up, or he might not. Hochevar is trying to prove that $2.5 million or $2.98 million -- or whatever -- was not enough, and if someone drafts him and sticks to a slotted number, maybe he will stick to his principle and bring the scouts back to Fort Worth next year at this time.
Harrington was advised to stick to his principles. He lost $4.1 million and then $1 million, but he's got 10 wins as a Fort Worth Cat.