Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
Pick #9, Slot Value: $3,080,000

“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. 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.”

That’s Jeff Hoffman, the player who the Jays selected with the ninth overall pick in the draft on Thursday night, speaking to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The player who lost millions of dollars due to an ill-timed injury and landed at the feet of the Toronto Blue Jays, who at least managed not to fumble the opportunity away.

There is risk that comes with this opportunity, of course. There always is when it comes to the draft, but it’s especially true of Hoffman, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery. On the MLB Network broadcast of the draft, Peter Gammons reported that many teams had looked at his medicals and felt that the operation had gone cleanly, but while the recovery rates for the surgery have improved over the years, it’s hardly foolproof. But knowing that, because of a second high pick, they wouldn’t be blowing their entire first round if Hoffman is never the same again, the Jays smartly took the guy whose pre-injury scouting report said “could challenge” for being the first pitcher off the board.

As in, a top four, or three, or two, or maybe even top-of-the-draft talent.

Obviously such designations are fluid — obviously — but if you’re a Jays fan this is something you can’t not be very, very happy about. That’s easy for us to say, of course. I mean, we don’t know what the hell goes on behind the scenes and with the medicals, and why teams appear to make more conservative picks than not. We have no idea what actually constitutes a reasonable risk in the draft. We have a bunch of media proxies who try to help guide us through these things as best they can, working as they do slightly deeper within the murk of the various clubs’ draft schemes. But… welll… think of the Jays’ next pick: Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost. There were all kinds of intriguing names still on the board at the time he was selected, and which makes you wonder about the degree to which they’ve been conservative. It’s hard to gauge, and really, the whole draft is about the balancing act between risk and reward, between floor and ceiling, between safe reliability and unhinged potential. To us, who know so little of the particulars, it’s all risk — or, at least, that’s probably how we ought to look at it, rather than get hung up on certain guys — and that’s why Anthopoulos just flopping his balls on the table and taking the injured guy with the pedigree way above where he’s been selected seems totally fine.

Especially you have things being said about him that simply do not get said about ninth overall picks. “If Hoffman were healthy,” writes Chris Crawford, ESPN live draft blog, “he would have been a lock for the top four, as some compared him to a poor man’s Adam Wainwright.”

“I’ve heard a lot of people talking about Verlander or Strasburg when they see him in live action,” Hoffman’s Cape Cod league coach, Dan Roszel, who mentored Chris Sale at Florida Gulf Coast, told the Times. “Watching Jeff and the way he’s handled everything, it makes me believe he can be a big league No. 1.”

And according to a tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith, Jays scouting director Brian Parker adds that, “We thought for most of the spring we wouldn’t even get a chance to take [him].”

He’s 6’4, he’s touched 98, and that pre-injury report from ESPN gave him a future 70 fastball, 70 curveball, 60 feel for pitching, and a plus changeup as well. And if you want to give him extra points for confidence, he’ll take those too.

“In the short term, my goal was to be the No. 1 overall pick, because I feel I’m the best player in the draft,” Hoffman told Kepner. “That’s kind of changed a little bit, but my long-term goal of making an impact on a big league team within two years — that’s not changed at all.”

Oh yes, two years. That feels weird, considering he’s a Jays first rounder, but he somehow actually isn’t a high-schooler! Neither is Pentecost!

Hoffman is, in fact, just six months younger than Aaron Sanchez, who was taken four drafts ago. So there’s that. It’ll still be a while before he can make any sort of impact, but there’s a lot to like about this. And! Because he’s injured now, and will only barely have himself back on a mound again next year in time to show that there are no ill-effects of the surgery, and will be a college senior then — meaning he wouldn’t have a lot of negotiating leverage anyway — it’s hard to see this one getting away from the Jays for any sort of financial reason. Hoffman will get paid, but he just doesn’t have the incentive to not sign something if the Jays are being remotely fair. In fact the Jays, the thinking goes, should be able to get him at some measure under slot, which would allow them to save a bit of money to load up on some talent later in the draft as well.

Yep… not a whole lot to dislike about this.


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Comments (128)

  1. yup. That about sums it up.

  2. This kid should be his own agent.

  3. Really happy they picked Hoffman. I wanted him more than anyone linked to the team. I like the guys attitude & upside.

    And I’m glad the Jays went w/ Pentecost over Turner too. Toussaint would’ve been nice but it sounds like the price tag he floated was quite high.

    Good stuff. Go Jays.

  4. I need a Max Pentacost jersey as of yesterday. His cousin Stacker was such a boss.

  5. I like Pentecost too. Organizationally, they don’t have much in the way of catchers.

  6. Thanks for the research, Stoeten. Well Done.
    Seems like the potential reward is well worth the risk.

  7. I’m so fucking hard right now.

  8. I don’t understand the thinking behind assuming Hoffman will accept an under slot offer. Can he really lose value by barely pitching post-TJ? I can see next year’s team having leverage when drafting him, but is the MLB rehab worth that much to Hoffman? I’m skeptical of the idea, and hope I’m wrong.

    • College seniors have significantly less leverage. He also has to be a little bit worried that his arm doesn’t rebound. He would be taking a really big chance by walking away from 1.5-2mm dollars. What if his rehab doesn’t go well? What can he realistically expect to get next draft year after missing the entire year? Seems hard to imagine him getting more than he would get this year.

      • It’s interesting, when it suits our purposes we say TJ is a nothing surgery and most pitchers come back stronger from it, and other times we talk about its risk and the need to incorporate it into what we’re evaluating and whatnot.

        I don’t know if his post-TJ rehab could go poorly enough that his value would tumble by next year’s draft. When was the last time you heard after 10 months of a guys surgery that he ISN’T on pace to be doing good things soon?

        • @NorthYork:

          It isn’t that the arm wouldn’t have recovered (it never gets actually stronger though…). It’s that he would have nowhere to pitch to build draft value. College season would be all but over by the time he’s throwing off the mound…

        • Well Luis Perez and Kyle Drabek didn’t exactly come back like gangbusters. We remember the hits, forget the misses.

    • He’s a college junior who has to take a year off. He basically wouldn’t be able to pitch next year (and red-shirt) and then have to pitch his senior year the year after. Then he’d be 23 at the draft.

      The thinking is that all of those facts add up to very little leverage.

      • Paxton turned down slot from the Jays, got assfucked by Beeston in the media and thus sat out his senior year, and still got more than the Jays offered him despite being taken in the 4th round. Value is value.

      • He actually doesnt get to pitch his senior year because he’s out for 15 months.

        • That’s right for next year revolu, but he can still redshirt.

          Still…it’d be a terrible idea for him to walk away from a fair offer…

  9. Love this selection.

    Getting a top 3-5 talent and possibly having money to reallocate on later selections is great fortune.

  10. I love his quote, confident and cocky.

    I hope it all works out for ya kid.

  11. I think he’s a Boras client. So, not sure there’ll be a whole lot of discount.

  12. Probably dumb, but with all these supposed studs pitching at the lower levels, adding a highly rated catcher into the mix for them to throw to as they climb the ladder over the next few years can’t hurt.

    Like the quotes from Hoffman. Sign his ass so he can back ‘em up.

  13. Rangers take the lead 6-5 in the bottom 7th

  14. So end of 2015 in Dunedin, 2016 in New Hampshire and some time in 2017 in Toronto for Hoffman if the recovery & development curve cooperate.

  15. God it must suck to be the Rays fan and look at the standings and see 0-10 in their last 10.

  16. 8-5 Rangers now.

  17. Jays got Reid-Foley in the 2nd rd. He was mentioned for their 11th pick at one point

    • If the Jays sign their top 3 guys, could be another huge draft.

      Getting a top 4 talent and two mid 1st round talents (my catcher hang up aside) would be a coup.

      • This was going to be the pick they gave up to sign a free agent too…

        Possibly three first-round talents in one draft? Not bad at all…

        • Good point I had forgotten about that.

          It seems my worries about the Jays going cheap were unfounded.

          Glad to be wrong because this team can’t be cutting corners at the draft.

        • I’m pretty sure their top two picks were protected

  18. I like this kid’s gusto… he’s gonna fit in just fine.

  19. Obviously I hope it won’t come to this (and I don’t expect it will) but taking Hoffman in the 9th spot instead of 11th also gives the Jays more leverage if he insists on getting closer to slot value because it’s a protected pick and 11th isn’t.

    • I thought they changed the protected pick system in the new CBA.

      • If they don’t sign the 9th pick they would get the 10th pick next year. If they don’t sign the 11th pick they simply forfeit it because it’s already a compensation pick from last year… right? Or has that changed and I missed it?

        • Someone was mentioning on a different thread that picks are now protected for two years. Not sure if it is true or not.

  20. I love how much faster these picks are happening than at, say, the NFL draft.

  21. Maple boner on the last pick of the 2nd rd to Seattle…

  22. Here is another paragraph found online about Reid Foley:

    “In any other draft class, Sean Reid-Foley would have really stood out as possibly the best prep pitcher in the class. But in this one, he might be the No. 5 of No. 6 of that demographic to be selected. In fact, he compares very favorably to Kohl Stewart who went No. 4 overall to the Twins last year, and was the top prep arm selected. Like Stewart, Foley is 6-foot-4, very athletic, and owns a three-pitch arsenal. Foley has been over-powering high school hitters this year, and has already recorded 101 strikeouts this season.”

  23. I am very intrigued by the picks, and while Hoffman had Tommy Johns, if he adds some weight to his frame, and while I’m not a physiologist nor kinesiologist, the added muscle to his arm with his smooth delivery may help him recover his skills quick. Well here’s hoping!

  24. Great work Mr Stoeten – thank you.

  25. Don’t know anything about the players other that what Stoets
    and Stond Jays Fan have found for us, but I like the strategy.

    A college guy with big upside with the first pick
    A fairly safe college choice with the 2nd pick
    A low floor, high ceiling shot at a big HS arm next.

    Should have a good shot net at least one top of the rotation arm
    plus an average major league player at a premium position.
    Not bad at all.

  26. Signing these arms potentially gives AA the confidence to unload Sanchez for a proven starter, plus the emergence of Norris. Its coming together for once.

  27. Crazy to think that in 3 years we could see Hoffman, Norris, and maybe even Osuna in the Jays’ rotation. I’m reserved on Sanchez – electric stuff, hasn’t been able to harness it after 4 years in the system.

    • Sure. But they’ve really, really babied Sanchez. Even now, they severely limit his pitch count and innings. I think they’ve done this because he throws so hard and he’s so skinny. So although he HAS been in the system for four years, he hasn’t had the same number of reps as a lot of other prospects after the same period of time. People are hard on Sanchez these days because of the numbers. The thing is, command is something that can improve (see Daniel Norris). But you can’t teach what Sanchez has which is crazy, crazy stuff. If it takes him a little longer, who cares?

  28. Also remember, this time last year everyone thought Norris was a total bust. The Blue Jays have drafted talented “projects” for the last four years. They’re not all going to dominate right from day one. Also, let’s keep our fingers crossed on Deck McGuire’s improvements. Apparently he was on the “weighted ball program” and his numbers are really coming together lately…..

    • I’d be happy with Nolin as future #5 and McGuire as pen piece. Very few will make the rotation. However, for those guys that miss there are mid and late round guys like Hutchison (15th rnd 2009) that work their way to rotation spots.

  29. For the record, based on our media based prospect outlets, Jays fans have to be pretty thrilled with their day one draft.

    • I dunno. If Beede becomes a star while Hoffman chokes…

      • I dunno. They used the Beede pick to get Stroman. That seems to have worked out alright so far. But we’ll see…..

        • I meant that they could’ve taken Beede again yesterday and actually signed him this time. I just don’t see the upside of Hoffman over Beede.

          • Um, he’s more talented?

            • also, less of a douche (hopefully).

              • Yeah. Can’t remember the details but I seem to recall
                that Beede burned his bridges with the Blue Jays.
                Probably best for player and club that they go in different directions.

          • Leaving aside whether Hoffman is or is not better than Beede, the upside of drafting Hoffman is that the Jays can likely sign him for well below slot-level, whereas Beede would likely demand the full slot money (and maybe more). This allows the Jays to shift more money towards signing their second round pick, who fell out of the first round due to signability issues. That would not have been an option if they had taken Beede because they would not have had the money to sign both players.

          • Well most scouts don’t seem to think that Hoffman has the control issues that Beede does. Hoffman is also described as having a higher ceiling than Beede.

  30. Well, it seems like Sean Reid-Foley is ready to sign: his Twitter bio says “Major League baseball pitcher #BlueJays”. Good news hopefully.

  31. Has Deck McGuire turned the corner?? Is it time to get excited about him??

    • Get as excited as you can about 10 games (his third time around) at AA and 2 games at AAA.

      Probably not entirely fair since he was decent for some of the year prior in AA as well. I’m glad he’s pitching well and more than willing to admit that a guy can find himself getting better at 25. (a little ray of hope for all us 30 somethings who’ve noticed our pants getting tighter lately).

    • uhm… I guess that depends on how easily excited you get.
      Do you get really excited about back end starters?

  32. Here’s a funny question… who do you think pays for the TJ surgery with a guy like this? Would TJ be covered by insurance or is it more of an “elective” action? I imagine it isn’t cheap down there where everything medical costs 7x anywhere else.

    • I’m sure the schools have their players insured. If he blew his arm out throwing a football around on his own time outside of campus it may be different. Nut if it happened in game or on school facilities they probably have to pay for it.

    • It would be covered by insurance.

  33. I think it’s important to note that these guys have very good baseball player sounding names.
    That is about as relevant as some of the other stuff that scouts seem to care about.

  34. This stuff is infinitely more fun to read when the team is winning. Thanks for keeping the standards high through thick and thin, Stoeten!

  35. Great stuff/read as always.
    Love the risk on Hoffman.

    The Reid-Foley pick was great too imo.

  36. Jays sign Luis Ayala to minor league deal – very solid pick up

    • With the struggles Delabar has had and the unpredictability of the effectiveness of Jenkins and health of McGowan, this seems like a really good depth move. You gotta think we’ll see him before too long.

      • You know what the fun part is? At this time last year, we would be flooded with “PLAN THE PARADE!” comments and morons wondering why AA is wasting his time on a move like this. Now we get well-reasoned analysis and an understanding that this is nothing more than a solid depth move that could help the team throughout the season.

        It’s amazing what winning will do!

      • Yea his major league numbers over his career look solid. He’s pitched well in recent years. Not a lot to dislike with this move.

        Delabar definitely looks off . . . injury, mechanics, who knows

        A fresh arm coming up to the majors around the all star break would be good. Add in the fact you have Wagner and some other arms like Infante in the minors, AA is setting up the bullpen to be healthy and stocked for a possible playoff run.

  37. If AA can sign Hoffman at a discount, and seems reasonable, maybe sign Pentecost to a slight discount and move money saved to Sean Reid-Foley, they have done very well in first day of draft. Reid-Foley is high polish, high floor with projection to mid-rotation type of kid, athletic, good movement with slight x-fire delivery. Verbal commit to Florida St. so he’ll require the extra ca$h, but worth it. His signing would reduce Hoffman risk.

  38. so now it is “injury-plagued” Noah Syndergaard?

    Note: this is the kind of nonsense that gets spoken about Lawrie: a walking DL candidate

  39. Completely off target – but looked at the Jays sched for the rest of June, MERCY can the Jays make some serious hay.
    After StL this weekend (should be tough), Minnesota in town, then 4 against Baltimore (HUGE series), 3 against the Yankees and another 3 with the Yanks the week after. Finish off the month w/ 4 against White Sox.
    Some big opportunities and divisional games, WOW

  40. MLBTV Premium subscriptions are now $50 for the rest of the season (50% off the prorated amount).

    I decided that at that price, I could afford to not be a pirate and jumped all over it.

  41. Oh look, the Jays just drafted another catcher.

    • with the success rate of hitting on the draft being somewhere south of 10% after the 1st round, I would say “oh look, the Jays bought another lottery ticket”

    • I think what’s being seen now is how hard it is to even find a decent avg catcher. The top catchers are locked up by teams, that’s how valuable they are. And we saw what a crap catcher can do to a team last year.
      We went years with the likes of Buck, Molina, Barajas – and now we see how much extra an above avg catcher can do to your team.

      Plus we’ve lost like 4 catchers from the minors in the last 2 yrs (Perez; JP; Gomes; D’Arnaud) – probably a bit short on guys.

      • I really think the only way I ever forgive AA for Yan is if the Jays win the World Series.

        • meh, that kind of shit happens to every GM. Gomes overhauled his whole swing in Cleveland. Who knows if he ever blossoms in T.O., even with playing time. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The Jays have come away well on a number of similar transitions that at the time looked like fringe players (e.g., JB, EE, Morrow, Delabar). It happens.

  42. Jays still taking high schoolers in the fifth round. I wonder if that means they don’t think they’ll need that much money to sign their guys.

    • They’re expected to save a good chunk on Hoffman, and I haven’t heard about any of their current picks being tough signs. It’ll be interesting to see if they can save enough early on to spend big on some later picks the way they did with Tellez and Brentz last year.

  43. Really dumb question, but what are the Rule 1, 2 and 3 drafts? Do they exist? Or does the number define the rule, and not the draft? (So rule 1 could be about… I don’t know, maximum roster size or something).

  44. Do you guys watch these kids before the draft? Or are you just doing the echo-chamber thing and parroting from news articles and stuff?

    • I’m pretty sure everyone here is just basing their opinions on what others have had to say about these players.

      • That’s kinda what I assumed, but there are a bunch of people talking with confidence about these kids.

        • I don’t think it’s confidence as much as it is excitement. People are understandably excited about adding some high draft picks to the prospect pool and the people who DO watch these players have been pretty high on the ones the Jays drafted.

  45. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Illustrated has the Jays as one of their three draft winners, they’re very high on the package of three players the Jays picked yesterday.

    • I really hope that the last few years are the beginning of AA building a sustainable, perennial contender.

  46. About the new kid….
    Wells was nearly untouchable this season, and in his final start he struck out 14 batters in a complete-game 4-0 win over South County. In 53 innings pitched, he had 102 strikeouts, six complete games and two no-hitters while allowing eight earned runs for a 1.06 ERA.

    Lefties with projectable frames and present stuff are always sought after in the Draft, which is why Wells is very appealing to many teams. Wells’ fastball will sit in the low 90s, touching 93 mph, and he uses his tall frame to create good downhill plane. His curveball has very good shape with hard, late movement and has the chance to be a swing and miss pitch for him in the future. He hasn’t thrown his changeup much at this point, but scouts who have seen it say it has the potential to be a solid pitch with good fade and deception. Wells may be somewhat raw at this point, but his interesting mix of pitches and big frame give him a high ceiling

  47. EE back in the lineup tongiht (DH)

  48. I’m curious as to how much leverage the Jays have in negotiating with Hoffman……If the Jays offered him 1.5 mil instead of the 3 mil in slot is he really in a position to say no?

    It’s not like he’s a High schooler with time on his side.

    He can’t go to Independent Ball for a year due to his injury.

    Rehabbing a TJ surgery must benefit from being directed by an MLB team as oppose to independently.

    He’ll be 23 by the time of full recovery, and still needs time to “learn how to pitch”

    Scott Boras is the “family adviser”, so there’s that.

    The pick is protected.

    That pool money could be of tremendous use down the draft.

  49. It seems the Jays, under their new scouting director Brian Parker, played this draft a bit more straight up than the last few. They drafted a couple of college seniors in the last half of the first ten rounds, but not EVERYONE after round three like the past couple of years. I think they’ll be offering everyone in their top 5 rounds anyways, something pretty close to slot. Maybe the early round college kids (Hoffman and Pentecost) a bit under slot, and the high school kids a bit more. They just didn’t draft a bunch of guys that they’ll be able so sign for $5000 this year. It will be interesting to see how the negotiations with Scott Boras goes. Glad Hoffman is a protected pick……

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