By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
March 25, 2009
Matt Hobgood, RHP, 6-4, 250, Sr. Norco High (2009 draft class)
Matt Hobgood’s junior season put him on the prospect map. He won a ton of newspaper awards and was named California’s Junior of the Year by CalHiSports, joining a list with a big league linage. Hobgood joined fast-tracker Mike Moustakas and current major leaguers Delmon Young, James Shields, Gerald Laird, Jon Garland, Eric Chavez, Randy Wolf, Dmitri Young and the exiled Barry Bonds.
Hobgood, a 6-4, 250-pound right-hander, vowed not to live off one season alone. He trimmed 15 pounds off his frame and gave his body a look more like Giants right-hander Matt Cain and less like Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain. After shutting out Riverside Poly and holding outfielder Jake Marisnick hitless Tuesday, Baseball Beginnings caught up with Norco’s horse for a Q-A.
BB: Despite the fact that you can ramp it up 95-96, do you feel comfortable working with command at around 92-93 at this stage?
Hobgood: When I first came out today, I was working with a lot of two-seam fastballs. I like two-seamers. I have nothing against them. I like four-seamers, too. I usually start with that. As the game goes on, I’ll get stronger. Guys who face me say I usually go up in the third or fourth innings.
BB: How would you measure your development over the past two years?
Hobgood: People said last year that I had a good year, but that I was kind of chubby and that I needed to lose a little weight. I got in better shape. I did running. I went to the gym a lot. I did what I needed to do. I’m the same guy but I’m in better shape. I’m about 250 right now. I was at about 265 last year. I’ve lost weight and put on muscle where you need to put it on, so I worked on my legs a lot. I did a lot of running and tried to work on the core.
BB: What do you see as your next steps of progression?
Hobgood: I still need to get in better shape and become more flexible. I still need to have better command. I need to be able to throw three pitches whenever or wherever I want to. Sometimes I have high pitch counts and lots of strikeouts, but lately I’ve been trying to keep the pitch counts down, go after people, and just try to make them hit the ball.
BB: Have you always had a starter’s mentality?
BB: No interest in being a closer (at the next level)?
Hobgood: No. I throw harder at the end of a game than I do at the start of a game. I just get loose, I feel better and I get more confident as the game goes on. Every time I go out, I’m ready to throw seven innings.
BB: What do you think about yourself in comparison to some of the other top high school right-handers in the 2009 draft?
Hobgood: I hear things about a guy like Jacob Turner (Westminster Christian Academy, St. Louis) and I figure I need to be able to do that, too.
BB: Do you feel like you’re close to being the three-pitch starter you want to be?
Hobgood: I think I can throw with anybody in the country. Obviously, people have their opinions of what they’re looking for and what they want in a pitcher, but I’ll go up against anyone.
BB: Is that how you would describe yourself?
Hobgood: I have a bulldog mentality. I throw harder, I get into the game more.
BB: Because you can run it up, if you want to, do you have to fight to stay within yourself?
Hobgood: I know the higher I get up, unless I’m throwing 100, they’re going to hit it. And even if I am throwing 100, they’re going to hit it.
BB: Name the toughest hitters you’ve faced?
Hobgood: Not to be cocky, anybody I face doesn’t rattle me. I like facing a guy like Jake Marisnick. I’d rather face nine Jack Marisnicks every day just because I think I pitch better against good competition.
BB: You’ve faced him many times over the years?
Hobgood: Yeah. We saw each other before the game and said hello.
BB: That means each guy is saying, ‘I’m gonna get you.’
Hobgood: (laughing) Pretty much.
BB: Do you think he was at his best against you?
Hobgood: I don’t know. He had some good at-bats. He took some good curveballs and change-ups, but I threw him strikes. I stuck my glove up in the first inning and got the ball he hit up the middle. He’s a good player.
Coming next: Matt Hobgood scouting report, complete with pro-style scouting grades.