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MLB Prospect Review: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

Jeff Hoffman went in the top 10 overall in this year's draft despite having Tommy John surgery a month before the draft. Could he be an undervalued prospect in dynasty drafts this year, and when could we see him in the major leagues?

East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman not available for photo day just yet.
East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman not available for photo day just yet.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first thing that comes up when you plug Jeff Hoffman's name into Baseball Reference doesn't link you to the 9th overall pick in this year's draft, but if you've worked with BR much, you'll know that isn't much of a surprise. With Hoffman just a month removed from Tommy John surgery when he was drafted, he has yet to pitch in a game professionally. Yet the surgery didn't scare off the Blue Jays, who took him at #9 overall and gave him a bonus over $3 million dollars. Could the Jays have acquired an undervalued asset there, despite it being such a high draft pick?

Undrafted out of high school, Hoffman attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, had a decent, but not spectacular freshman season, and became a starting pitcher full time during his sophomore season. The performance that year was not bad either, but he firmly established himself as a potential top draft pick with his performance in the Cape Cod League last summer, and was named the top prospect in the league. He was named by Baseball America as the #2 college prospect eligible for this year's draft last offseason, and was widely expected to be at worst a top five overall pick.

His numbers looked good by the end of the college season in 2014, but with a string of up-and-down starts at times and an extremely dominant start against Middle Tennessee State where he struck out 16 over 8 shutout innings. Unfortunately, that was the end of his season in April, and within a month Hoffman had already undergone Tommy John surgery. It wasn't clear where exactly he would go in the draft at that point, as he had been considered a top five pick before the surgery.

Hoffman may have fallen to #9 overall, but may still be a top 5 fantasy option from this draft. He features three offerings which all could end up as above-average to plus in the major leagues (fastball, curveball, changeup), as well as a fourth that should be usable as well (slider). The pre-injury reports gushed about his long-term potential, ranking him in the same breath as White Sox' top pick Carlos Rodon and giving him a potential top-of-the-rotation ceiling. The injury concerns make it more difficult to determine his true long-term value, but you may be able to pick him up later in your dynasty drafts than you could have at the start of the year.

If everything clicks for Hoffman, you'll have at least a mid-rotation starting pitcher who is capable of providing a couple seasons where he is a top 15-20 fantasy starting pitcher and even more where he falls in the top 30-35. There are concerns about his control, and honestly we won't really know how large those concerns should be until he starts throwing again. With surgery in May 2014, we are probably looking at Hoffman returning to minor league games sometime between May and July of 2015, depending on how his rehab progresses.

Hoffman would probably be in the 5-7 range for me from this year's draft right now, as his potential upside is to be the best pitcher from this draft class. He likely won't see the majors until the 2017 season at the soonest, but if you're drafting outside the top five this year and/or are in the process of a rebuild, I would be targeting him as a high upside pick in that range. As always, the usual caveats remain regarding the potential for the surgery to be considered unsuccessful, but the organizations are getting very good at bringing players who have had the surgery back, and I would still rank Hoffman at about 90% of his original potential.