Draft Preview: Jeff Hoffman

(Photo: ECU Athletic Media Relations)

Jeff Hoffman
School: East Carolina
Position: RHSP
Height/Weight: 6‘4”, 190
B/T: R/R
D.O.B.: 01/08/1993
Previously Drafted: N/A

Scouting Reports:
High School:
Jeff Hoffman was not drafted out of high school in 2011. At the time he was considered a very good athlete with a mid to high 80’s fastball and lots of projectability.

College:
Hoffman has an ideal pitchers body and offers unusual projectability for a college pitcher. He has a electric fastball that can reach 98, and his two-seamer “features above-average sink, life and arm-side run” according to Baseball America. His curve and change can both be future plus pitches and he also throws a slider with average potential. This four pitch mix is one of the best in the draft class. Hoffman is also an excellent athlete and has a sound delivery according to most.

Hoffman starred in the Cape Cod summer league each of the past two years, and Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt wrote the following after ranking him as the Cape’s #1 prospect last summer: “at his best he works in the 94-97 mph range and touches 98. He lacks pinpoint command of his fastball but is capable of working both sides of the plate, usually with good downhill plane. Hoffman’s 12-to-6 curveball can be a wipeout pitch at 79-84 mph, earning some plus-plus grades from scouts. His mid-80s slider can be a little flat at times, but it is another major weapon when it’s on. He also flashes an average changeup with fade and bottom”.

“Hoffman hasn’t fully grown into his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, yet at times he works in the mid 90s and hits 98 mph with his fastball. His big-breaking curveball can be equally devastating and his changeup can be a plus pitch at times. He throws a decent amount of strikes but will need to refine his command to become a frontline starter in the big leagues”. –MLB.com

“Potential for three plus pitches. Prototypical frame. Numbers don’t match the stuff. Short, uneven track record. Has top of the rotation stuff if he reaches his potential”. -MinorLeagueBall

Scouting Grades:
Note: these grades are my summations based on all readily available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN (Present/Future, 20-80 scale):

Fastball: 60/65
Curve: 60/65
Change: 50/60
Slider 40/50
Command: 50/60
Overall: 65

Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:
Jeff Hoffman was reported to need Tommy John surgery in early May, which has had a big knock on his draft status, but the White Sox were rumored to be hot on him prior to this news. He could still be in the mix #3 if the Sox do not like the other option available and are happy to wait out his rehabilitation. His upside is just about as high as anyone else in this draft class.

If all goes to plan for Hoffman he could feature three plus pitches or better with plus command. That’s an ace in the Majors. The success rate for pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery is very good, but there’s still no guarantee that he will ever be back to his best. That’s obviously a huge concern. If he loses a few mph on his fastball and his curve doesn’t bite as much then you’re looking at someone who is more likely a mid rotation starter at best, or worse if his command regresses.

Coming into this season and prior to the injury I was hoping the Sox would take Hoffman. Given the break-out of Brady Aiken and the relative return to form for Carlos Rodon, a healthy Jeff Hoffman probably ranks #3 for me. As it is, with his injury, Hoffman probably ranks somewhere in the 7-15 range right now. He should only be an option for the Sox if it’s for a significant amount under the slot recommendation.

Hoffman has received comparisons to a few different pitchers including Justin Verlander for his velocity and ability to maintain his velocity deep into games and Adam Wainwright for his dominant performances in the Cape Cod League.

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