Player: Jeff Hoffman
Drafted by: Toronto Blue Jays
DOB: 01/08/1993 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 192 lbs
School: East Carolina
Previously Drafted: Never drafted
Jeff Hoffman went undrafted in 2011 out of a high school in Upstate New York, but he caught the eyes of many big league scouts in August pitching in the Connie Mack World Series (Farmington, New Mexico), so much so that teams pursued signing him to a fairly lucrative free-agent contract.
However, Hoffman wisely honored his commitment to East Carolina and now ranks among the top draft prospects in the country.
Hoffman emerged as a potential Day 1 selection with his breakout performance in the 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star Game, following it last summer with an even more dominant showing. Even though the junior right-hander lacked consistency this spring at East Carolina, he still turned in his share of dominant outings, including an impressive one-hit, 16-strikeout game against Middle Tennessee State in mid-April.
However, after missing a pair of starts from late April into early May, it was announced that Hoffman would need season-ending Tommy John surgery.
He’s unlikely to be a top-five pick this year as projected earlier in the spring, but considering his athleticism, track record and overall huge upside, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where he doesn’t come off the board sometime in the first round.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Ideal frame at 6’4”, 192 pounds that still requires projection; excellent athlete; room to add strength; good balance during delivery; stays tall and drives off back side; smooth, athletic arm action; does a nice job of staying in line with target; mechanics need to be cleaned up slightly following Tommy John surgery.
Worked in 92-96 mph range prior to injury; can reach back for a few more ticks with ease; explosive pitch that jumps out of his hand thanks to his athleticism; two-seamer comes in a few ticks slower but features excellent arm-side run and sinking action; maintains velocity deep into games; potential to be a consistent mid- to upper-90s guy at maturity.
Best secondary offering; features devastating 12-to-6 break with tight rotation; fast arm allows him to generate good downer action; legitimate bat-misser
Least used and developed pitch in his arsenal; more of a change-of-pace, show-me offering; struggles to get on top of the pitch, causing it to flatten out and linger up in the zone; will require considerable refinement as a professional.
Another weapon that flashes plus potential; creates good speed differential in the low 80s compared to fastball; sells the pitch with his loose, athletic arm action; generates good late-fading action; feel for pitch should improve with experience.
Exhibits more control than command of his electric arsenal; usually around the zone, especially with fastball and curveball; has bouts where he loses feel for release point and struggles to execute within the zone.
Has proven to be nearly unhittable when command is on; size, athleticism, arm action and stuff all suggest his command could be above average at maturity.
MLB Player Comparison: Justin Verlander
The best comparison for Jeff Hoffman is the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, as both right-handers have tall, lean builds, athletic deliveries with smooth arm action and an electric four-pitch mix that profiles at the front of a major-league rotation.
Projection: No. 1 or 2 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Mid-2017
Chances of Signing: 50 percent
Hoffman is a wild-card pick this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in mid-May, but there should be plenty of teams that still consider drafting him somewhere in the first round. Whether or not he signs will depend on where he comes off the board and how much money he’s offered. If that doesn’t work out, expect Hoffman to once again be in the mix for the No. 1 pick in 2015.