By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Matt Hockenberry was the ace of the staff for the Temple Owls in 2014. The senior right-hander was a steadying influence during a difficult season after word came that the Owls baseball program was being cut. The Hanover, Pennsylvania, native went 5-6 in 15 appearance (14 starts) with a 3.18 ERA. In 93.1 innings, he struck out 71 and walked just 23. This success caught the attention of the Phillies who selected him in the 9th round of the draft earlier this month.
Hockenberry has spent the last week or so down in Florida getting his feet wet in the Phillies organization.
“When I found out at my girlfriend’s house that I got drafted I went nuts,” Hockenberry tells KYW Newsradio. “And when I got down here (Florida) I did the same thing, I went nuts. I was just so happy to be here. I walked into the clubhouse and they gave me all the gear that I needed and I think the thing that stuck out most in my mind, which is actually on my Instagram, is I took a picture of my locker and my jersey had my last name on the back. At that point and time, that’s when it really hit, like, okay, this is the real deal. You need to get out of the fantasy land of okay, you’re going to be a Major League pitcher or you’re going to be playing in the minor leagues. Now it’s time to work.”
Hockenberry was the 262nd player taken in the draft. That’s the earliest a Temple player was selected since Todd Miller was taken by Boston with pick #195 in 1990 (7th round). The right-hander says his senior year was big for him.
“We had guys transfer out after our program got cut, up at Temple University, and that kind of put me back in the spotlight as the number one guy,” Hockenberry says. “I mean, there were other guys who could’ve been in that spot, but my coaches went with me. After the summer that I had in the Valley (Baseball) League (1.77 ERA), they trusted me with what I was doing on the mound. I kept us in a lot of ball games. When I saw that my coaches trusted me, I started trusting myself more and my confidence was just through the roof.”
Hockenberry says a variety of pitches have helped get him to this point.
“I throw a two-seam and a four-seam fastball,” Hockenberry says. “I throw a curveball, a slider and a change-up. I would have to say my fastball is my best pitch, just because I command it whenever I want. I throw it in whatever count it’s needed. I usually use it to get ahead.”
Hockenberry wrapped up his college days throwing some of the best baseball of his career. In May, he put together a 1.86 ERA in four games. That stretch included impressive performances against nationally ranked opponents Louisville (complete game loss with ten strikeouts) and Houston (win and complete game loss allowing no earned runs).
You can follow Matt on twitter @mattleonkyw.
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