If Matt Hockenberry climbed up to the top step of where his college team played most of their home games this season, he could probably have reached Citizens Bank Park with a thrown baseball — at least on the second or third bounces.
That’s how close Campbell’s Field — home of the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks’ professional baseball team and the Temple University Owls this season — is to the place where the Philadelphia Phillies play their home games. That’s also how strong Hockenberry’s arm is and he had a chance to show it against some of the best baseball competition in the country while playing in the new AAC.
Hockenberry was in the Phillies’ backyard the entire time and the fact that their scouts saw enough of him to invest the Phils’ ninth pick in the MLB June Draft shows that they see him as more than an honorary pick.
Hockenberry has a fastball in the 94-95-mph range and that kind of velocity cannot be taught. For the Owls, he beat a ranked team, No. 16 Houston, and also allowed no earned runs and had 10 strikeouts in a complete-game loss to No. 5 Louisville.
If adversity means anything in getting to the major leagues, than Hockenberry has overcome a lot of it in these past few months. In January, he learned Temple was dropping baseball this season and, a month later, came the added insult that the team’s six best players were transferring to other schools.
Still, the Owls showed a lot of character in finishing out the season by beating Louisville, Houston and UCONN in the final two weeks of the season and Hockenberry was their leader. This did not go unnoticed by Phillies scouts, and for recognizing that, they should get a nice return on their investment.