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MLB 2014 Draft Preview: RHP Jeff Hoffman

She goes to does Jeff Hoffman.
She goes to does Jeff Hoffman.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

A player that has been continuously linked with the Blue Jays leading up to this year's draft is East Carolina right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman. Coming into the college season Hoffman was considered one of the top arms in the draft, but then some elbow problems led to Tommy John surgery and nothing drops a name down draft boards like the name of that procedure. The positive thing that comes from the injury is Hoffman is now comfortably in the Blue Jays draft pick range at either #9 or #11. He's been mock drafted to the Blue Jays in Keith Law's mock (#11) and Minor League Ball's mock (#11) so there is definitely a possibility that Hoffman ends up with Toronto.

Jeff Hoffman is a 6'3" 190 lbs. righty who wasn't talked about much coming out of Shaker High School in New York and didn't make much noise in his first two years at East Carolina either. He had K/9's under 7.0 in his freshman and sophomore years, but averaged above a punchout per inning in his junior year that was abruptly cut short recently.

The Latham, NY native features four pitches including a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider. His fastball and curveball are his two best pitches with his heater occasionally touching upper 90's, although it can get it little straight at times. His curveball is apparently very impressive with a huge 12-to-6 break, getting comparisons to Adam Wainwright from a variety of scouts. The nasty curveball can be seen at the 2:10 mark of the following video, although the catcher misses it pretty badly. His fastball has a lot more arm-side movement than I expected from reading reports so maybe the concern with his straight fastball is a little overblown:

His changeup is his third best pitch and has shown a lot of potential although he still doesn't have a great feel for the pitch. Lastly, his slider is flat and currently lags behind his other pitches, but could improve greatly if continues to master it. There's a few more curveballs in this video, but a lot of them are pretty wild. If you didn't know, you can change the speed of YouTube videos if you want to watch his wind-up and release in HD slow motion:

With his surgery and command issues, Hoffman is far from a dominant college arm like Jon Gray of last year's draft who is currently moving quickly through the Rockies system, but Hoffman is much closer to his ceiling than many of the other options available in the top 15 picks of this year's draft.