Hobgood has a strained rotator cuff and has begun the process to rehab the injury. He cannot pinpoint exactly when the injury occurred, but does know that the fastball velocity he had as a high school senior has been missing in his two pro seasons.
On Tuesday, O’s scouting director Joe Jordan spoke candidly and at great length with MASNsports.com about his selection of Hobgood.
“You guys haven’t seen anything close to what I told you, you were going to see. I recognize that. As far as the shoulder issue right now, you know, there’s no surgery required and hopefully he can rehab it,” Jordan said.
“I understand I am due at least some scrutiny on that one, but you know, we saw what we saw. We saw above average stuff with a breaking ball and change-up. For whatever reason, it hasn’t shown up.
“I don’t believe we can make a determination right now. But to be objective, I’ve got to say there were some other options and I knew that at the time. Right now, it doesn’t look real good, but hopefully he can get strong and get in shape and when he gets out there, we’ll start seeing what we thought we were buying. I’ve thought so much about this. You try to self-evaluate and you look at the process that got you to the decision you made.”
Hobgood was throwing with velocity sitting in the 92 to 94 mph range, topping out at 96 or 97 mph as a high school senior. But last season at Single-A Delmarva, he was mostly 87 to 90 mph.
Jordan is convinced the O’s drafted a healthy hurler with a big, strong body and a powerful right arm. An MRI taken on Hobgood at the time of that draft came back completely clean.
“It was clean, he wasn’t hurt when we took him. I don’t get in the way of the medical guys, but he was 100 percent healthy and somewhere along the line he become unhealthy,” Jordan said.
“It was right there, a big, physical, Gatorade player of the year. The arm strength was there, the breaking ball was all right there. It’s one of those things that is hard to explain. Maybe this shoulder situation was present longer that we thought. I just truly don’t know.
“We scouted him all spring. There was big stuff (with his pitches) and a guy that I thought we could pack some innings on down the road. It still could happen, but we’ve got to get him healthy.
“He’s going to two different facilities in southern California. He’s going to API, I think, four times a week and there’s a rehab center in Anaheim where a lot of major league guys go to every year. Our guys have got him in the best hands we can put him in.”
Jordan has certainly spent time since that draft day wondering why Hobgood’s pitches lost some of the effectiveness he once saw. I asked him if he thought Hobgood bore any of the blame for that.
“It is two-fold,” Jordan said. “One, players have to do the work and work hard in the winter. I don’t think it’s debatable that he didn’t do everything he needed to do going into camp last year. Two, I think there is a responsibility on our side. Whether it’s the scouting staff to follow the programs they do in the winter - which we do - I don’t know that we kept our fingers on this one as closely as we could have.
“Organizationally, we almost have to assume these guys are young and dumb and don’t know anything. Don’t assume anything and make sure they have a program and make sure they are following it. When you are a young guy used to throwing well into the mid-90s and you are used to having all those weapons, then all the sudden you don’t have them, maybe you start overthrowing. Maybe that’s part of the problem that happened here with the injury. Right now, it’s all speculation.
“To say he has let us down, it’s too early to do that. But, he’s working out (at API) with guys like (Brian) Matusz and (Chris) Tillman and Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays. He’s working out with some guys that are workers. Brian knows what it takes and Matt has been right there with them. All the reports I have gotten, it is markedly better.”
Coming later today: Jordan on whether he has any regrets about the Hobgood selection and whether he was under any financial constraints in making the pick.