By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
June 12, 2009
Matt Hobgood’s selection as the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Orioles sparked mixed emotions in Baltimore, where some fans felt the pick was made on convenience and signability.
Baseball Beginnings covered Hobgood this spring more extensively than any other national source. Here in Southern California, the consensus was that Hobgood was not going to get out of the first 10 picks.
For example, when I spoke to the Angels a week before the draft and asked if he would be there for them at 24 and 25, the answer I got was “not a chance.” Mock drafts had him going anywhere from 15 to 70. But Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan decided that if Seattle took Dustin Ackley with the second pick, he was going to draft a staff anchor from the right side to complement 2008′s No.1 pick, left-hander Brian Matusz. Matt Wieters, another Jordan pick, will be waiting to catch.
Jordan is going back to basics. Back in the Jim Palmer-Mike Cuellar-Dave McNally days, Baltimore was always built on pitching first.
Hobgood’s stock rose this spring because he never dropped off. He has shown in several starts the ability to pitch at 93-95 for strikes late in the game. He also has a power curveball and the makings of a change-up and a cutter. The Orioles view him as a hard-thrower with a good mechanical foundation, a great make-up, and project him as a front-end starter on a contending team.
Baseball Beginnings asked Hobgood how he would introduce himself to Baltimore fans.
“I’d tell them don’t listen to Baseball America or whatever else they read or hear,” Hobgood told Baseball Beginnings. “Don’t base it off what someone else says. Base it off what (scouting director) Joe Jordan sees in me. I don’t throw 88-90 mph; that’s obviously not what I throw. I think people are a little confused about what they’re getting in me. I’m looking forward to getting it going right away and I think if people give me a chance, I’ll show them why Joe Jordan picked me at that spot.”
The Camden Yards bullpen video of four pitches, while a scoop, is literally a drop in the bucket. It is Hobgood essentially playing catch. That last pitch, he’s fiddling with a cutter.
For a closer view of how he looks when he’s firing at full speed, our full video is a better indication of why he was selected where he was. Most notable is Hobgood’s arm extension and arm speed, indicators of power stuff. He should be fun to watch develop.
“You have to look at the entire kid, his character,” Hobgood said. “Look at what he’s like on and off the field, what he can do on the field and what kind of player he is.”
Hobgood’s a gamer, a reputation earned among other top players in his area.
Centerfielder Jake Marisnick, a 4th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays considered one of the top baseball athletes in Southern California in 2009, believes Hobgood was the most competitive pitcher he faced as an amateur.
“He’s a competitor and he’s not afraid,” Marisnick said. “Some guys will go out and just want to ring up the radar gun. He’ll do that and then drop in a curveball. He’s a bulldog. Nice kid off the field. On the field, he wants to win more than anyone else I’ve ever faced.”
Hobgood built his reputation on the West Coast. Now his goal is to prove it on the East Coast