Blue Jays promote top prospect Jeff Hoffman to AA

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Optimistic Blue Jays news that doesn’t centre around an unlikely trade target? You had me at ‘Hello’. The Blue Jays have reportedly promoted top right-handed pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman to the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Alykhan K. Ravjiani of Postmedia was first to break the news late this afternoon.

The Blue Jays first-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft had the talent to go first overall, but fell to ninth due to his Tommy John surgery, from which he has returned at full force. The 6’4″ fireballer can sit comfortably in the high-90s with very impressive mechanics, and has been tabbed as a fast-riser out of East Carolina University. Don’t let his recent draft year fool you, Hoffman is a 22 year old man with more talent than most Minor League rotations.

In 11 starts with Advanced-A Dunedin, Hoffman has impressed with a 3.21 ERA. He has come on especially strong in his four most recent starts, allowing just four earned runs with 20 strikeouts over his last 22.1 innings.

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While the promotion has been earned, the timing will obviously raise the question of a showcase. With the trade deadline looming and Toronto clearly in the market for an impact starting pitcher, opposing teams now have the opportunity to see Hoffman perform against hitters who are closer to the Major League level, and there’s great value in that.

The issue is, however, that Hoffman would likely have just two AA starts before the deadline hits. Is that really enough to drastically change his value around the league, and with his pedigree and potential, does he even need to?

On the other hand, ssuming that Hoffman remains in the organization past July 31st, this is a giant step towards what fans have been craving: A September promotion. While innings limits, or at least caution, surely put him out of the question for a starting role at the MLB level this season, his raw stuff could excel towards the back end of a bullpen down the stretch. This would not be unlike Aaron Sanchez, who dominated in a bullpen role last season before competing for a starting role in the year following.

Prospects are a dangerous game, as their value can be a matter of opinion and their long-term projection is more uncertain than any of us would like to admit. Adding Hoffman to the list of 24-and-under arms that are at, or close to, the MLB level is another exciting step for this farm system. Whether he grows old as a Blue Jay or not, the value will show itself in some form.

Photo credit:  MLB Prospect Portal

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