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2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #47 Grant Hockin

The 2017 countdown continues with a young, high profile arm who missed the last two seasons because of injury and is looking to kickstart his career again with a strong, healthy season this year...

47. Grant Hockin – Right-handed Pitcher

Born: 03/05/1996 – Height: 6’4” – Weight: 200 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right

Facts & Info: Hockin was selected by the Indians in the 2nd round of the 2014 Draft out of Damien High School (CA) and signed for $1.1 million. Had he not signed with the Indians he had a commitment to attend and play baseball at UCLA. He is the grandson of hall of famer Harmon Killebrew, so he has some good Major League bloodlines. His brother Chad is a year older and played baseball at Cal State Fullerton and was selected in the 6th round of the 2016 Draft by the Cubs.

Stuff: Hockin is a polished high school arm the Indians liked out of the draft because of his advanced stuff for his age and a deep arsenal with a feel for four pitches. He is a strike thrower who features a solid average fastball that ranges from 89-92 MPH and has flashed 95 MPH with some good tailing action. He has some good arm strength and the Indians believe that as he continues to mature and get stronger that his average and top end velocity could both spike a MPH or two. His best pitch is an above average slider that has some good, hard biting action and that he commands well, and has the potential to be a true plus offering for him down the road. He also mixes in a fringy curveball that has 11-5 shape with a chance to be average, and a developing changeup that shows some good, late fade and also has a chance to be average.

Delivery & Intangibles: The size and delivery for Hockin are both impressive and fit the mold that teams often look for out of starters with a big, strong frame with some athleticism and a low effort delivery that he repeats well with some good, clean arm action. He throws from a three-quarter slot with a good feel for pitching and overall understanding of how to attack hitters and read their tendencies. He has the size and strength that allow him to maintain his stamina deep into games and could allow him to be someone who hauls a lot of innings. He’s still rather young, but he shows some professionalism and a consistency with his work and routines not commonly found in young players. He has a strong work ethic, a drive to get better and a good aptitude which allows him to make quick adjustments.

Focus: Hockin has struggled with injuries for most of his minor league career to date as he had an arm issue crop up all the way back in spring training in 2015 where after a setback in his rehab opted for Tommy John surgery on June 17, 2015. He ended up missing the entire 2015 season, but what was really surprising is that he never returned to the mound last season either as he was slow to recover and the Indians were conservative in getting him back on the mound. He did get on the mound some in Instructional League in the fall, which was a good sign, but having not pitched in two full seasons really limits his prospect standing at the moment. Right now, the focus for this season will almost solely be on rebuilding his foundation and getting him back on the mound consistently where he shows durability and can build the momentum he needs to carry into the 2018 season. He is still being looked at as a starter, but because he missed the last two seasons his workload will be very limited this season, so the focus will be more about developing his strength and routines than about any mechanical changes or pitch development.

Future: The arm issues of the past two seasons have really hurt Hockin’s prospect value. Not only will it be tough for him to recover from the injury and be what he once was, but it happened at such a critical time in his development where he should have been building his foundation so that he would be ready to go out and pitch a full season this year. He’s nowhere close to being ready to pitch at the full season level, and considering he is now 21 years old, that’s a limitation that he is going to have to work around and fast. He is essentially back to square one when he was drafted almost three years ago having not made any advancements, which is not where you want to be with a pitching prospect going into his fourth year in the organization. Thankfully, he is talented and no doubt has the stuff to get beyond that limitation, but he first needs to show durability and prove the injury is in the rearview mirror and that he is ready to make some significant strides moving forward. None of this is any of his fault as pitchers can’t control when an elbow is going to go, but it is just the cold reality of the game and why you just never really can bank on a pitching prospect no matter how good they are until they bob and weave their way through the minors and get to the big leagues. Everything is still there to be a good Major League pitcher and have a good career, but it just isn’t as much of a certainty as it once was as lots of questions remain as to how healthy he really is. A good, healthy return to the mound this season will go a long way at rekindling his prospect value and pushing him back up the rankings next year. He is probably set to spend the majority of the season in Arizona in extended spring training where he can be monitored and work to get him ready for short season ball which starts up in June with rookie level Arizona or Short-A Mahoning Valley – and considering his age chances are he will begin the season at Mahoning Valley, and if not, should get there quickly and pitch a significant amount of innings for them.

Ranking History: #35 (2015), #28 (2015)

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