Boosted by his 94-MPH fastball, the Chicago Cubs chose Luke Hagerty with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2002 MLB draft.
Impressed by the lanky lefty’s potential, the club gave Hagerty more than $1 million to sign.
He reported to spring training the following year, but was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery which kept him out for 2003 and most of 2004.
Then, when Hagerty attempted to come back in 2005 — as a member of the Florida Marlins at that point in his career — he came down with a case of the yips that he was unable to ever shake and ultimately quit pitching in 2008.
“I usually tell people it’s like your signature,” Hagerty told ESPN. “You know how to write your name. Someone gives you a piece of paper and a pen and you can write it. Maybe there’s variance. It was like someone gave me a pen, and it was scribble all over the paper. It made no sense.”
However, despite more than a decade away from pro ball, Hagerty is attempting to return to the mound and shocked more than 40 scouts at the Driveline Baseball Pro Day with a 99-MPH fastball as well as a curveball, slider, and changeup.
Hagerty’s pro day showing was impressive enough that the Cubs offered him a minor league deal and signed the 37-year-old after he passed his physical.
“I want to see how hard I can throw,” Hagerty said. “Not because I’m being a meathead wanting to throw 100. To me, it’s about the intricacies. If I can hit 100, that entails a lot of things. I’m healthy, I’m moving efficiently, I’m being very aggressive over and over again to allow my body to adjust and produce that velocity. And my mental space is good.”