As the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft draws ever so near, the coverage of the draft, and the players who will likely be chosen has reached a fever pitch. One of the most intriguing draft prospects is East Carolina right hander Jeff Hoffman. The hard throwing, 6’4″ right hander was projected to be a potential top 5 pick, until the epidemic that has ravaged MLB, infiltrated the college ranks.
In mid-April, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times details in his piece this week, Hoffman felt something during a start versus Middle Tennessee State, an injury which ultimately resulted in the Tommy John surgery that was performed on him a month later. Suffice it to say, Jeff Hoffman got acquainted with Dr. James Andrews at a much earlier stage in his career then he would have ever wanted.
Hoffman is compared to the likes of the above pictured Justin Verlander, and Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, as his pitching coach at East Carolina notes, the former being the first name that jumped into my mind when watching some video of him throwing before reading Kepner’s piece. By the eyeball test, Hoffman has everything you could possibly want from a big league starter, perhaps an ace, and Hoffman knows it.
“The competitor in me makes it hard for me to see, maybe, a bunch of guys get picked ahead of me — guys that I know aren’t better than me, some guys out of high school that don’t really understand the game of baseball yet,” Hoffman said last week. “It’s going to be tough if I fall a little further. But everything happens for a reason, and whatever team takes the so-called risk and drafts me is going to get the best player in the draft.”
Jeff Hoffman is not afraid of this kind of adversity, and that is what can make him the best pick in the first round of this year’s draft, no matter when he’s taken. He will be the kind of player teams regret not selecting in the draft, like the San Diego Padres do with Justin Verlander (they chose SS and future inmate Matt Bush with the first pick).
Click here to view the aforementioned video I watched.