East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman came into the spring as the No. 2 prospect in this draft class, behind only NC State lefty Carlos Rodon and in the same tier as Texas prep righty Tyler Kolek. Hoffman made his second start of the season on Friday afternoon at the University of Virginia, showing big velocity but struggling with command and with his curveball.
Hoffman came out throwing gas, 94-96 mph in the first inning and holding 96 for several innings, eventually slipping to more 92-94 by the sixth and seventh. The pitch is straight, however, and Virginia hitters were on it all game -- a few cheated to get around on the pitch, but most of their hitters were at least able to make solid contact to foul it off even if they couldn't pull it. His changeup was an above-average offering on Friday, mostly 85-to-88 with one at 90 in the first inning, some too firm, others with that string-pulling illusion that you associate with a good straight change. He showed confidence in the pitch, doubling up on it and throwing it to right-handed hitters. His curveball was fringy, 77-80 mph early and 73-74 mph by the end of his outing, with spike-like break when he finished it -- maybe one of every four curveballs he threw -- with little feel for where it was going.
Usually a pitcher this athletic has better command than this, but Hoffman's command on Friday was below-average; his fastball and changeup were consistently up in the zone, and he didn't have great feel to locate any of the three pitches.