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Robert Hogan and Nick Mingione connected immediately during recruitment

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager06/14/24

DanielHagerKSR

Right-handed pitcher Robert Hogan has blossomed into one of the biggest contributors on the first ever College World Series team in Kentucky’s program history. His story and instant connection with Nick Mingione and the program was discussed during Thursday’s MCWS introductory presser.

Hogan, who spent two seasons at Texas A&M, entered the Transfer Portal on June 2, 2023. He committed to Kentucky a little over three months later on September 6, and the rest is history.

“The thing I remember about Robert Hogan is watching him on Synergy, and earlier in the year watching and seeing a player with tremendous energy and excitement and confidence. Then when you fast-forward to some of his outings after, it didn’t look like the same guy.”

Hogan pitched to a 4.91 ERA in 18 1/3 total innings during a freshman in College Station, setting large expectations for his future as a reliever and a potential starter. His sophomore season however didn’t go the way he would have wanted it to go at all. He experienced a sophomore slump, posting a 14.63 ERA in just eight innings on the mound.

Photo by Aaron Perkins | Kentucky Sports Radio

He however wasn’t just dealing with baseball struggles, he was dealing with issues that go beyond the sport. Nick Mingione discussed Hogan’s struggles following Kentucky’s Super Regional clinching win over Oregon State last Sunday night.

“Hogey’s story is pretty amazing,” Mingione said. “If you guys ever get a chance to just find out where he was, just a year ago mentally, not making road trips, not pitching, just down and out. To do what he’s done here is truly remarkable and it’s a true testament to the type of man that he is. And I’ll let him tell you the story at another time, but it’s really amazing what he’s been able to do.”

Looking to find a new team, Hogan visited Kentucky Proud Park and shared an instant connection with Nick Mingione and the Kentucky program.

“I remember looking at him and watching him on video and noticing that he had two bracelets on his glove hand,” Mingione said. “I remember asking him, like, during the recruiting process, Hogey, what are your bracelets?”

One of Hogan’s bracelets represented his faith, and the other was to show support for a young boy named Zach, who had been diagnosed with autism. Come to find out, Mingione knew Zach and was good friends with him and his family.

“Well, we had met Zach in 2018 when we were at the Minute Maid Classic. He became a dear friend of mine and our program,” Mingione said. “We immediately connected on that.”

After touching on his bracelets, it didn’t take long for the two to connect in other aspects of life as well.

Photo by UK Athletics

“Then we connected on the faith piece, and I just remember talking to him and just really just mentoring him that night about how his identity is not wrapped up in this sport, and it cannot be no matter what. Like, you are Robert Hogan, who happens to play baseball. You’re not Robert Hogan, a baseball player. We just connected. Believe it or not, by the time we hung up on that conversation, it was very shortly after he became a Wildcat. I feel like with all my heart this is exactly where God wanted Hogey.”

Hogan, who has said before that coming to Kentucky was the best choice he had ever made, has been one of Kentucky’s most reliable relievers this season. In a career high 38 1/3 innings pitched, the right-hander boasts a 2.58 ERA.

Entering the College World Series, Hogan has allowed just two earned runs in his last 15 innings pitched (1.20 ERA).

“To watch his development just from the time he first got here to somebody that was lost, trying to find his way and lacking confidence, to a guy that is now standing on the mound who acts like he owns the place and can pitch and get outs in the biggest moment is really what’s cool about coaching,” Mingione said. “As important as this is and the trophy and everything else, I really believe that Kentucky has changed his life. That means more to me than maybe anything.”

Kentucky arrived to Omaha Wednesday afternoon, but won’t play its first game until Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CT/2:00 p.m. ET. First up for the Cats? The NC State Wolfpack, who took down Georgia in the Athens Super Regional to clinch its fourth ever College World Series appearance.

Follow KSR at the College World Series

KSR the show may not be headed to Omaha this weekend, but the website will be well-represented. KSR baseball beat writer Daniel Hager and videographer Steven Peake hit the road on Friday to capture all the action and excitement for Kentucky’s first College World Series appearance. They’ll be sharing all of their adventures on the site, social media, and special editions of “Bat Cat Beat” and Rapid Reactions on the KSR YouTube Channel, so make sure you’re following and subscribed to keep up with the Cats.

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2024-07-13