Recent Royals: 2008 Upper Deck Masterpieces Luke Hochevar

I have very few card collections given my limited resources and space, but I did decide some time ago to begin collecting on-card Royals autographs. It’s been a blast so far trying to track these things down and this is the latest addition to my collection. To view the cards currently in the collection, take a look at the Gallery. If you have any on-card Royals autos- especially one you don’t see in that gallery there- chances are I need them so don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

Hey look! They spelled "Masterpieces" correctly!

It’s a strange state of affairs when players who haven’t played a game in the bigs have autographed rookie cards that sell for hundreds of dollars and I can get the RC auto of the actual (kind of) bona fide ace of a Major League club for $3 shipped.

Funny thing is, Hochevar used to be one of those highly-touted and collected prospects. But after a couple of bad years (and, for a starter, they’re pretty bad years), he has lost favor with the collecting community as if to say, “You, sir, are destined for a bullpen gig.” Well I’m here to tell you that… well, they might be right. Hochevar is off to a really hot start this year, crushing his previous norms and looking like a real live number 1 starter (which is what a number 3 starter translates to in Kansas City). All of his number thus far this year are vast improvements on his last year (an injury-shortened season) totals except for the HR/9 stat which I feel is a touch flukey. Of course, flukey may be the word of the first half for Luke here. If he keeps up his hot start through the whole season, he’ll be on his way to a nice increase in pay for his first arbitration year in 2012.

This is my first Hochevar auto, but likely won’t be my last since prices are so low. I love the Masterpieces autos and actually considered doing the sets until I realized how expensive that would be. Obviously if he continues to kill it, he’ll move out of my price range. I will say that I’m not too keen on Hochevar’s personality. He was drafted three times (twice by the Dodgers) before going #1 in 2007 to to Royals. The second draft, he and Scott Boras couldn’t make a contract happen so he fired Boras and hired another jerk that couldn’t make it happen either. When the Royals drafted him, they paid a prince’s ransom in guaranteed salary, incentives and a hefty bonus to get dude to put pen to paper. Hearing stories like this about guys probably shouldn’t irk me like it does since I’m part of the problem with all this licensed merchandise buying and whatnot. Plus I know the players are just trying to get an appropriate piece of the pie. But I feel like the escalating draft signing numbers will eventually start to really mess with a team’s ability to compete by signing seasoned players.

Of course, I’m an amateur so what do I know. Here’s to hoping that Luke proves this year that he’s a professional and earns his check.

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