The Kansas City Royals have claimed infielder Jason Smith off of waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Smith is expected to be in uniform when the Royals resume play in Cleveland on Friday. Kansas City designated infielder Fernando Cortez for assignment in order to make room for Smith on the roster. The Royals also announced that Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 June Free Agent Draft, has been promoted to Class AAA Omaha from Class AA Wichita. Hochevar is currently slated to make his Omaha debut on Sunday against the Iowa Cubs.
The 29-year old Smith is a .228 hitter in 195 Major League games. He was originally selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 23rd round of the 1996 June Free Agent Draft. Smith has played in the Cubs, Devil Rays, Tigers, Rockies, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks organizations. The Toronto Blue Jays selected Smith from the Cubs in the 2006 Major League Rule 5 Draft. Smith opened 2007 with the Blue Jays, where he batted .212 with 4 RBI in 27 games. The Blue Jays designated Smith for assignment on May 14 and he was claimed on May 16 by the Diamondbacks. He played in 2 games with Arizona before going on the D.L. with a burst appendix. Smith batted a combined .333 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI during his recent rehab assignment with Class AAA Tucson and Class A Visalia.
Cortez started the year with Omaha, batting .299 in 61 games. He hit .286 in 8 games with Kansas City after his contract was purchased on June 13. The 25 year-old was acquired from Tampa Bay on June 20, 2006 along with Joey Gathright in exchange for J.P. Howell.
Hochevar appeared in 17 games this season at Wichita, compiling a 3-6 record with a 4.69 ERA. He currently leads the Texas League with 94 strikeouts. Hochevar started for the North squad at the 2007 Texas League All-Star Game and recently pitched one scoreless inning for the U.S. team in the 2007 All-Star Futures Game.
In 2006, Hochevar became the Royals 1st-ever No. 1 overall pick. The former University of Tennessee standout signed on August 4 and was assigned to Class A Burlington (IA). He had a 1.17 ERA in 4 starts at Burlington and was promoted to Wichita for the playoffs, where he went 1-1 in 2 starts.
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