School: Stanford University; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-5; Weight: 220
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: One of the top collegiate relievers available in this draft class, Hock, a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, has been a mainstay at the backend of the Cardinal bullpen during his three-year tenure. As a true freshman, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander made 23 appearances for the school in 2015, throwing 36.0 innings but finished with an unsightly 5.25 ERA thanks in large part to a 24-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Hock spent the following summer working out of the Newport Gulls’ rotation in the New England Collegiate League, making eight appearances, six of which were starts, with far better results: 32.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 22 K, and 12 BB.
The hard-throwing reliever blossomed in his second season with Stanford as he found the plate with higher regularity: he threw 57.2 innings of work while fanning 61 and walking just 24 en route to saving six games. And, once again, Hock found himself in the New England area during the summer – though this time he was working out of the rotation for the Cotuit Kettleers in the Cape Cod League. He would toss another 36.2 innings, finishing with an impressive 31-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
This season for the Cardinal, Hock has saved a career best 14 games, currently tied for the fourth best mark in NCAA Division I baseball. And while his walk rate continues to trend in the right direction – he’s averaging just 2.32 BB/9 so far – his strikeout rate took a huge dive. Through his first 42.2 innings, Hock’s managed to record just 31 punch outs, or an average of just 6.54 K/9.
Projection: Risky proposition. If the idea is to draft a polished, near big league-ready closer early and push him up through the minors, Hock isn’t your guy. Sure the control has slowly morphed from an abhorrent skill to an above-average one, but the fact that his strikeout rate is far below-average for any college pitcher, let alone a short reliever, raises more than a few red flags. Glaring. Red. Flags.
And just to add a little additional context, consider the following:
- Between 2011 and 2016, here’s a list of pitchers to save at least 10 games with a strikeout rate below 7.0 K/9 and a walk rate between 2.0 BB/9 and 2.5 BB/9: David Bigelow, Nolan Blackwood, Mike Bradstreet, Caleb Dudley, Clint Freeman, Matt Hicks, Karch Kowlaczyk, Matt Lees, Sutter McLoughlin, Cody Peterson, Wyatt Short, and Kurt Spomer.
Not exactly an inspiring mix of names, is it?
I could see a team using a third round pick on the Stanford closer, hoping to potentially unlock his previous form. But something just seems to be off with Hock currently and the reward doesn’t seem to outweigh the risk.
Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player
Floor: 0.0-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
Grade: Third Round