One thing stood out to Cal State Fullerton pitching coach Jason Dietrich the first time he saw right-hander Chad Hockin pitch in high school."I saw his slider and I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'" Dietrich recalled Friday, after the Cubs selected Hockin in the sixth round (194th overall) of the
One thing stood out to Cal State Fullerton pitching coach Jason Dietrich the first time he saw right-hander Chad Hockin pitch in high school.
"I saw his slider and I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'" Dietrich recalled Friday, after the Cubs selected Hockin in the sixth round (194th overall) of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Hockin's slider and pitching ability were raw. He had baseball in his blood -- he's the grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and his younger brother, Grant, was the Indians' second-round pick in 2014 -- but he mostly was a third baseman in high school. Offering a raw pitcher such as Hockin a spot at a power program like Cal State Fullerton isn't usually how it's done.
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But that slider.
"In the college ranks, you don't really want to take on projects, but I wanted to work with him," Dietrich said. "We said we just wanted to get this kid to school and get him to where he needs to be, and he's worked extremely hard."
Hockin was part of the Titans' team that reached the 2015 College World Series before continuing to impress later that summer in the Cape Cod League. His numbers this season weren't as good as in previous years -- mainly due to experiencing slight elbow tenderness midseason -- but he possesses closer-type stuff with a fastball that can run up to 97 mph and a slider that sits in the upper 80s.
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"We've seen him a lot the last couple years. We just really like the power stuff," said Cubs senior vice president of player development and scouting Jason McLeod, who wasn't aware Hockin was Killebrew's grandson.
Hockin's mother, Erin, was Killebrew's daughter. Killebrew was one of the most-feared power hitters in MLB history, slugging 573 home runs and making 13 All-Star teams in his 22-year career.
Killebrew died on May 17, 2011, when Hockin was in high school. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander still names his grandfather as his favorite athlete, the Twins' home of Target Field as his favorite baseball stadium, and models his game after his grandfather, according to Cal State Fullerton's official website. Hockin also writes "HK3" on the mound before every outing.
Now, Hockin has a chance to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and reach the Majors.
Like any young pitcher, but especially one as new to the craft as Hockin, he needs to continue to hone his mechanics and work on consistency, Dietrich said. The Cal State coach said Hockin already has come a long way, growing from an immature freshman into a quiet leader teammates respect for his work ethic.
And that slider.
"His stuff is power stuff. His fastball is a plus pitch, but his slider is his best pitch," Dietrich said. "When he's on, it's pretty unhittable."
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.