2015 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospect: #4 Jeff Hoffman


It’s that time of year, where the team here at Jays Journal once again discusses the Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects. We’ve compiled our Top 20. Basically, we wanted to create the most all-inclusive Blue Jays prospect ranking out there.

So, we took a mixed approach to our rankings. Not only did we take a ranking from each member of our writing staff, but we also figured in the rankings from other publications as well, including MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Minor League Ball.

We’ve already begun our Top 20 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system. You can catch up with all the previous prospects here.

Today we focus on number four, starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman.

Name: Jeff Hoffman

Position: Starting Pitcher

Date of Birth: January 8th, 1993

Acquired: First round-draft pick, 9th overall, out of East Carolina University

Height/Weight: 6’4″, 185 pounds

Throws: Right

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Months before the 2014 MLB Draft, everything was going great for Jeff Hoffman. He was coming off his final season of college baseball, touting some astoundingly impressing numbers. His ERA dropped to a career low 2.96, largely attributed to his increase in strikeouts per nine innings and decrease in walks per nine innings.

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Then Hoffman received the news every pitcher hates to hear; he would have to go under the knife to repair his UCL in the ever-so-popular Tommy John surgery. Scouts had no idea where he would land. In a matter of days, Hoffman went from a potential number one pick to a hopeful first-rounder.

Lucky for the Toronto Blue Jays, at least eight other clubs lost hope in the right-hander and the Jays were able to select him with the 9th pick of the draft, putting faith in his resurgence post-op.

Outlook and ETA

The Jays are looking at something really special in the young pitcher. As far as his arsenal is concerned, Hoffman already has shown depth close to the major league level. His fastball sits comfortably between 93-96 mph with a power slider, 12-6 curveball and changeup that has demonstrated good tumble in the time he’s used it.

During a start in the infamous Cape Cod league, Baseball America’s Clint Longenecker reported that Hoffman exhibited loose, easy arm action delivering the ball on an fluent downward plane. He also said that Hoffman relied heavily on his overpowering fastball. His fastball is known for the tremendous amount of sink it generates, provoking six ground balls on the seven balls put in play.

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His command is also considered to be above-average thanks in large part to his change of head position throughout his windup. He’s now able to spot his fastball on all corners of the plate.

Hoffman’s biggest asset however may be his mental approach. This was tweeted moments after the Jays announced his selection last season.

After his aforementioned start, he had this to say. “I felt that I have always had the athleticism to pitch at the highest level but what really clicked was the mental side of the game,” Hoffman said. “After every start, I go home and write some notes about what I did, what I was successful at and what I wasn’t. So then everyday at practice I try to come out and get better at those things. Studying when I have had success and when I haven’t has been a big key for me.”

If Hoffman is going to come back from surgery and be one of the chosen few who graduate from the minor league life, his mental approach is going to be integral.

For now, it’s unknown where he will start this spring. According to Alex Anthopoulos, Hoffman has thrown several bullpens so far, using only fastballs, and has looked great. Anthopoulos says he will be in games by April and activated by May within the Jays system.

It’s probable his professional career will embark in Vancouver with the Canadians, similar to the career paths of former first Jays first rounders Marcus Stroman and Max Pentecost. From there, the sky is the limit on where he may end up.

With any luck and renewed success, Hoffman may end up in New Hampshire by years end for a spot start. But given his surgery and automatic inning limit, it would be considered a positive season if he’s able to reach High-A Dunedin by year’s end.

Either way, the Jays have a fruitful seed in Hoffman. Only time will tell if he can blossom.

Next: Do the Blue Jays have a lock on All-Star nods?