Hochevar picked No. 1

Luke Hochevar cooled his heels for 12 months and could make a cool million extra because of it. The former University of Tennessee pitcher was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the first overall pick in today's Major League Baseball draft.

Hochevar is the first Vol baseball player ever chosen No. 1 in the draft. Infielder Phil Garner was the third overall pick in 1971, selected by the Oakland Athletics.

Hochevar, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 40th overall pick a year ago but did not sign. During a temporary split with Scott Boras, Hochevar enlisted a new agent and agreed to a $3 million signing bonus from the Dodgers. Hochevar subsequently reneged on the deal, however, then retained Boras as his financial adviser.

Boras and the Dodgers could not agree to contract terms, so Hochevar hooked up with the independent Fort Worth Cats. He posted a 1-1 record and a 2.38 ERA in four starts with the Cats prior to today's draft.

Reportedly, Hochevar and his 97 miles-per-hour fastball will command a contract in the $4 million range from the Royals. That's $1 million more than the Dodgers reportedly were willing to offer.

UT junior Sean Watson was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in Round 2 with the 52nd overall pick of the draft. The 6-foot-3 right-handed reliever went 4-3 as the closer for the 2006 Vols, with 11 saves and a 4.61 ERA. He recorded 47 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 41 innings.

Hochevar was 15-3 in his final year with the Vols (2005). He recorded 154 strikeouts in 139.2 innings and a sparkling 2.26 ERA.


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