As part of the "trade heard 'round the world," Troy Tulowitzki deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Colorado Rockies received a trio of right-handed pitching prospects: Miguel Castro, Jesus Tinoco, and Jeff Hoffman. Charlie Drysdale wrote a summary on all three players earlier, but I'd like to concentrate a bit more on Jeff Hoffman, who is now the newest member of the New Britain Rock Cats.
Hoffman made the 150-mile drive down Interstate-84 from Manchester New Hampshire to join the New Britain Rock Cats (soon to be Hartford Yard Goats ... I do love pointing that out). Baseball America rated Hoffman Toronto's third best prospect, only behind Daniel Norris (who was traded by the Jays to the Tigers as part of the David Price deal) and Aaron Sanchez (who has logged major league innings and will likely end up being a ‘pen arm.
Hoffman was taken ninth overall in the 2014 draft out of East Carolina University after going undrafted as an upstate New York high schooler. He likely would have been taken earlier in the draft but was recovering from Tommy John Surgery following a successful season at ECU in which he struck out 16 batters in his last college game. He did not throw any minor league innings in 2014.
Hoffman's changeup was the best in Toronto's system, which he complements with with a two-seam fastball that sits in the mid 90s and tops out 98/99. His fastball has good sink so he is prone to grounders, always a plus in the thin air of Coors Field. He also possess a curveball that Baseball America scouts described as having the "potential to be plus-plus" as well as a slider that he throws in the mid-80s.
FanGraph's Kiley McDaniel is a little less bullish than Baseball America grading Hoffman's pitches as follows (per the 20/80 scouting scale):
|65 / 75||55 / 65||50 / 55||40 / 50+||55|
Hoffman's Tommy John recovery was a setback but he still projects as a number two or three starter. He has been adjusting his mechanics since the start of the season as Toronto seemed to have him flirting with a cutter and standing generally taller on the mound, most likely to prevent the risk of another injury so soon after elbow surgery.
Hoffman has not thrown since July 23 when he pitched against the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox). He went 5.1 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and walking two. Considering the time off, there's probably a good chance he gets the nod at some point this weekend.
Steven Martano is a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row and Editor and Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.