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2014 mlb draftWell, this sucks. Mostly for Jeff Hoffman, but also a fair bit for the Chicago Cubs.

Top college pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman of ECU will undergo Tommy John surgery, per Keith Law. Hoffman had been on the shelf for a couple weeks, and now we know why. He’s likely to still be drafted, though it’s unclear how far he’ll slip, and what it would cost to sign him (it’s a serious lottery ticket, and it might be an expensive one). You’ve gotta feel for the young man.

The part that stinks for the Cubs is that a pretty clear top four had emerged in this year’s draft, consisting of Hoffman, Carlos Rodon, Tyler Kolek and Brady Aiken. The latter three are generally viewed as the top three, and many projected that the Cubs would be taking Hoffman at number four (including BP as recently as today).

On the other hand, I suppose this could have been worse news for the Cubs – this could have happened a few months from now, after the draft.

There’s still plenty of time for things to change at the top of the draft – remember: they always do – but the early take is that the Cubs just found themselves on the outside of the top tier looking in. There’s always top prep position players Alex Jackson and Nick Gordon, whom some believe the Cubs may have favored anyway. And there are also a bevvy of other interesting arms possible there at four (and you can dream about a discount against slot, which can be used later … even though that’s never quite as good as getting the truly elite guy at the top).

We’ll see how this news affects various projections in the run-up to next month’s draft.

  • Head and Heart

    *I posted this on another thread but it probably belongs here.*

    It probably shouldn’t be the Cubs at 4 but teams should still take a long look at Hoffman. TJS is a big question mark obviously but that’s still a high upside arm. Recovery from TJS is now relatively safe. The team drafting him can control his rehab and ease him back. And since most pitchers end up with TJS anyway you are getting a head start on the process. Instead of drafting an arm, having them in your system for 2-4 years and then having TJS.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Someone in the 20-25 range in the draft is going to get a heckuva deal.

      • NorthSideIrish

        Cardinals at #27

    • Kyle

      Giolito went at No, 16 with significant arm concerns that later led to TJS. I don’t think Hoffman will go that high, but he might, and certainly no later than early 2nd round.

      • Head and Heart

        And if I was him I would carefully consider signing. Find out if some teams are better at bringing guys back from TJS than others. I would imagine you would want to rehab under the supervision of an MLB team with it’s resources. But going back to school is always an option.

      • NorthSideIrish

        I think the success Washington has had with Giolito would make it more likely someone takes Hoffman in the teens. Giolito ended up the 7th pitcher taken and is arguably the best prospect of the group (either him or Gausman). I think someone in the middle of the round or a team like Toronto with two picks could still take Hoffman.

      • Karl Groucho

        If he drops to early second round I’d be v happy to see us take a flyer on him.

      • ssckelley

        If he drops to the 2nd round I hope the Cubs are all over him. I just cannot see it happening, someone in the bottom of the 1st will take him the lowest would be the compensation picks.

    • Edwin

      It depends on whether you can get Hoffman to sign though.

      • ssckelley

        Edwin, I was wondering the same thing but I think he would be stupid not to since if he went back to college he would not be able to pitch anyway. I think he would risk falling even further in the draft if he refused to sign.

        • Edwin

          Why would he not be able to pitch? I’ll admit, I’m unfamiliar how that stuff works.

          • ssckelley

            Well they say a year recovery, I suppose it is possible he could pitch towards the end of the season. I just think the risks are way to high for him to pass on whatever signing bonus he can get by being selected in the first round this season. IMO, his best move would be to take the signing bonus and give himself enough time to recover under the care of a MLB doctor. An MLB team will not rush Hoffman back, he might feel obligated to rush himself back if he went back to college to improve his draft stock.

    • http://BN Sacko

      disagree H and H Im getting sick of our relatively safe players on this roster.

      • Head and Heart

        What do you disagree with?

  • NorthSideIrish

    I think Beede and Grant Holmes are in the picture now as well. But at this point it looks like it will be a drop-off from what looked like a clear top 4 tier.

  • Norm

    eh….Nick Gordon, here we come.

  • JCubs79

    Thinking Alex Jackson is the likely pick now here unless one of the top 3 pitchers fall to us.

    • JB88

      If Kolek and Aiken go 1-2, part of me thinks that the Sox will pass on Rodon given that Boras is his advisor.

  • http://BN Sacko

    will not surprise me if we will draft him anyway.

  • Funn Dave

    Cue comments attempting to use this story as evidence that picking a pitcher at the top of the draft is too risky–as though position players have never been hurt or flamed out before.

    • Kyle

      Position players flame out at a lower rate at the top of the draft. This is an indisputable fact.

      • Funn Dave

        Why, yes, it is. No one ever said they don’t.

        • Jason P

          Then what’s your point?

    • Edwin

      There’s obviously inherent risk in drafting any position, but pitcher is easily riskier than position player. That doesn’t mean “never draft a pitcher in the first round”, it just means that a pitcher better be special.

    • Darth Ivy

      Position players have never been hurt or flamed out before

      • Funn Dave

        Dammit. You got me.

  • Jon

    So does this rule Hoffman out at 4 for the Cubs?

    • Kyle

      yes

  • Javier Bryant

    Unfortunate. Now he’ll probably slip to the Cardinals and they’ll work their voodoo magic on him

  • CubsFaninMS

    Why am I a little nervous about picking a top prospect named “Jackson”?

    • college_of_coaches

      Because you’re from Mississippi?

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Andrew worked out ok for them.

        • DarthHater

          He was from Tennessee. Not sure he had a whole lot to do with Mississippi.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            He defeated the British in Louisiana. Clearly they were headed for Mississippi.

            • DarthHater

              He did chase the Cherokee out of Mississippi – as well as a lot of other places.

        • CubsFaninMS

          I remember watching the video in sixth grade “There’s Jackson standing like a stone wall!” That stone wall did not have ivy growing on it.

    • CubsFaninMS

      Not sure what you’re referring to. But Edwin, Brett, Shoeless Joe. Chicago has had a long list of problematic Jacksons. And yes, I live near Jackson.

      • college_of_coaches

        joke’s reference > state capital.

        I’ll say this, though, Noah Jackson was a decent OL for the Bears. And then there’s Bo…

        • CubsFaninMS

          Bo, such a sad story. One of the greatest athletes of our time.

  • Jon

    There is slight hope, if Aiken and Kolek go 1-2 respectively, would the White Sox take a Boras client in Rodon? As I understand it the two sides still wont do business with each other.

    • Javier Bryant

      More than likely the White Sox would pass on Rodon and take Alex Jackson. In a way, that’s what I’m hoping for. Jackson, Eaton, Garcia could be a pretty good OF for them in the future

      • Eric

        Damn, I was just starting to favor Hoffman. Now it’s Jackson or Nola for me. I really do think Nola has a bit more upside than some are pegging him for.

        Is Rodon a Junior? In other words if the Cubs actually had a chance to draft him, would Rodon pull an Appel and decline signing? Nabbing Rodon at #4 would be pretty amazing, I’m just afraid he wouldn’t sign.

        • Head and Heart

          If Rodon dropped to the Cubs I would imagine they would break their necks, and their bank, to get him signed if they had to.

          • Jon

            And worst case scenario they pick #2 and #5 in 2015.

            • CubsFaninMS

              With the production we are getting from our outfielder, I fear our suck-o-meter is going up as we speak. The #2 pick for 2015 looks to be a possible outcome. I’m not a total pessimist, though. I still have faith that some of our core players will knock us down the draft charts a tick or two.

          • SenorGato

            Rodon would be crazy not to sign. Whispers of shoulder somethings over parts of the past two seasons, velocity all over the place, some even say his breaking ball took a step back this season…I’m not sure he’s in a position to be confident returning to school could end well for him. The best he could do is recapture the magic of his freshman year and get senior reduced 1/1 money, and what are the odds on that?

            • Head and Heart

              Go back to school and throw like 150 pitches an outing? No thanks. Whoever drafts him will likely dramatically limit his innings the rest of this year. Which will be good for him.

        • Chad

          I think Rodon would sign at 4. Appel dropped to 9 right? That’s a lot bigger difference, plus there is no guarantee that Rodon would get picked higher the next season. Also I think he saw what happened this year from being an unanimous #1 to maybe not in the top 4, doubt he takes that chance again. I also don’t believe that he will want to return to NC State as he is overused a bit and injury is always a concern. Just look at Hoffman. If you are Rodon are you thinking, well if that is me I lost a lot of money just at a chance to make a bit more. Lots of concerns, but I don’t think the cubs have that hard of a time signing him.

    • JB88

      HA! For once we seem to be on the exact same side of an issue, Jon :)

    • BenRoethig

      If Jerry and his team down on W. 35th passed, I might send them a fruit basket. We had a Boras client last year in Bryant, so we’ll get the job done.

    • NorthSideIrish

      I think this is a little overblown in the new CBA…Boras is now handcuffed by the slots so teams aren’t as afraid of dealing with him as they once were. But I’d love for you to be right in this case.

  • KHRSS

    Rusin threw a no-hitter today. Good for him. Baez went 3-5 with a K. Vitters 2-4. I hope Vitters heats up. I really think he would be the best outfielder when it comes to hitting if he were on the ML roster.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Seems to me if we are going to get serious about winning some time soon that we don’t bet on lottery tickets. If those three guys are gone I would be inclined to take the best position player available.

    • Edwin

      All draft picks are lottery tickets.

  • Austin8466

    Who’s the pitcher that is rocketing up everyone’s pre-draft rankings? I can’t remember the name off the top of my head.

    • NorthSideIrish

      Grant Holmes? Or Newcombe? Maybe Toussaint? Lot of movement this time of year…

    • CubsFaninMS

      Aiken was that man a few weeks ago. Nola has been since the beginning of the season but scouts fear his upside is limited. I believe there is a Weaver who is moving up the rankings as well. John Arguello has a good draft update from last week on Cub’s Den. I’ve found that John and Brett’s coverage run pretty complementary to each other.

  • SenorGato

    Sucks for him, still hope everything works out. That said, Beede is/was better at 4 anyway. Hoffman’s pre-2014 seasons were the same type of seasons that Mark Appel got criticized for out of college, and then in the season he seems to be putting it all together he blows out his elbow. Beede’s got his flaws, but he also put up more dominant numbers (more Ks, much harder to hit) while losing 2 BB/9 between his freshman and junior year. To me the stuff edge and all the intangible edges went Beede’s way as well.

    Should he stay for his senior year? On one hand if he’s healthy he might actually get back to where he was and recoup some money. OTOH a ML team is going to know more about rehabbing a young arm than a college will.

    • http://iawrestle.com On The Farm

      Nola from LSU isn’t a bad option for a pitcher, just not sure if he is #4 – best available there. I thought Beede was struggling this year?

      • SenorGato

        Beede has elite stuff pitcher problems – namely that his command and control can waiver. Walked into the season as a consensus top 6 guy who could have put himself into 1-1 talks with a big, obvious breakout. A three start stretch got the publications to cool off on him, and he hasn’t been great around that (just good with significant positive gains in his control).

    • Norm

      Hoffman’s ‘stuff’ was WAY beyond Beede’s.
      You can’t scout based on college statistics.

      • Norm

        Disregard, I was thinking Nola, not Beede.

        • SenorGato

          Missed this by a couple seconds

      • SenorGato

        I don’t, Beede’s stuff just happened to translate into more dominating numbers in the numbers that indicate stuff and dominance best among college pitcher stats.

        Any report on Beede notes three pitches that are at least above average with all having at least plus potential. His changeup is considered one of, if not the best in the class.

        Then there’s the intangibles…twice a first round talent….Vanderbilt’s pitching S&C program is arguably the best college program in the country…no arm tweaks or back tweaks or this tweak or that tweak….

  • Jon

    @aaronfitt: Jeff Hoffman pitch counts by start: 87, 107, 109, 80, 103, 98, 90, 116, 105, 117. Restrained use, every 7 days. Still got hurt. Who knows?

    • jp3

      Show me, Rodon’s pitch count per start at nc state=his arm will fall off soon

  • Kycubs

    This is why I wish you cod trade draft picks. Get a lottery type prospect, move down a few slots and take a second tier pitcher. Though I still wouldn’t mind building more on the offensive side, you can never have too muchc hitting either.

    • MightyBear

      I agree. I think one of the reasons football and basketball have passed baseball is baseball is always slow to change and innovation. Football and basketball have had trading draft picks for a long time. Baseball should get with the times. It would make the draft more interesting.

      • Brocktoon

        Nobody cares about the MLB draft because the players drafted won’t see the big leagues for 2 years at best. The top picks in the NBA and NFL draft enter starting lineups. Nobody watches the draft for trading one high pick for 2 lower ones.

        • Brocktoon

          That and the players drafted are unknowns to 98% of the fanbases. Nobody cares about college baseball, college football and basketball are billion dollar industries.

          • CubsFaninMS

            All good points. MLB really needs to do a better job of marketing the sport. Advertising that the MLB.tv app as the “highest grossing app” is not a good way to sell people.

            • Brocktoon

              College football and basketball have built in alumni fan-bases. Outside of the south, west coast, and a handful of scattered programs, there’s nothing to speak of. I believe the Big Ten has the greatest population of alums in the country, and their baseball programs are utter shit. There’s just not a lot MLB can do in that regard.

              There has been an increase in college baseball on TV through ESPN picking up some scattered games and the BTN having a couple games per week on, but it’s such a slow growth, and I haven’t a clue how you could speed it up.

              Baseball, despite being a series of one on one matchups is not conducive to drawing eyes for the superstar player, so it’s not like baseball’s Lebron is going to change things for the college sport(nevermind that baseball’s Lebron would likely wind up foregoing college much like basketball’s LBJ did) Other than the HR races, I can’t think of a guy even in the majors that people (nationally) made sure to catch their every game.

          • ssckelley

            College basketball might be a “billion dollar” industry but much of the best talent comes from Europe. I do not get all that excited for the NBA draft, if the Bulls do not have a top 10 pick it is a real crap shoot after that. There are many years teams are lucky to get a good bench player out of the 1st round.

            But the NFL draft is awesome, they do it right and it gets a lot of attention from college football to the combines.

            I think the MLB can be fun to watch, I did enjoy seeing Bryants name get called last year but I would probably tune out if the Cubs were winning and did not draft very high. What is neat about the MLB draft is if you have enough pool money you can pick up quality players even low in the draft, but not neat enough to sit through 40 rounds of picks.

            • Brocktoon

              My point with the billion dollar industry comment is that people know the names being called that won’t wind up as any more than an 11th man. Nobody cares about the NHL or MLB drafts because the general public barely knows the guy being called #2 let alone #52.

              • ssckelley

                That is true, for me the NFL draft is tops by a long shot. Like I said if the Cubs did not suck so bad I doubt I would care much about the MLB draft either. For me there is a huge gap between my 1st and 2nd favorite draft to watch on TV. I even find myself watching the NFL draft on the 3rd day along with post draft analysis.

                • Brocktoon

                  I’m fairly certain the NFL draft draws easily the best ratings(even with its 3rd day format. I’m a way bigger basketball guy, so I care more about that draft than the NFL(which I’ll usually only watch the first day, then check the picks after the fact to see where familiar names went and who the Bears wound up with) though that may have more to do with Chris Berman’s continued existence rather than anything else.

                  • Brocktoon

                    Couldn’t have messed up that parenthetical more if I tried.

                  • ssckelley

                    The nice thing about the NBA draft is it is over the same day. The 2nd round goes fast, as it should. Don’t get me wrong I still watch it as there usually is nothing else on or going on anyway.

                    This year the draft might be more interesting as the Bulls have 2 or 3 picks in the first round I think.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I’m not sure I can look at this as the Cubs being shut out of a clear Top 3. The arms after Aiken, Kolek, and Rodon aren’t just interestesting, some of them are very good in their own right.

    Any draft in which taking someone with the stuff of Beede is seen as a bad thing is a ridiculously deep draft.

    • SenorGato

      Always trying to figure this one out – besides “throws hard” what is the appeal of Kolek?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Size, and the fact that his fastball is already a plus, if not a plus-plus pitch, even though he is still in high school.

        It is true, though, that there are few reports regarding his secondary stuff. Right now he is just blowing hitters away. That plan of attack will come to a screeching halt the very first time takes the mound as a professional.

        • SenorGato

          He’s tall enough but what about build? Is there any precedent for a HS pitcher with that kind of bulk and velocity?

          • Chad

            He’s like 6-6 250 and can hit 100 relatively easily. Consistent high 90s. Not sure on movement though and that coupled with unknown secondary pitches are big concerns for me.

        • Serious Cubs Fan

          Who has better raw velocity and stuff? Jonathan Gray or Tyler Kolek?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Velocity – Kolek.

            Stuff – I’m not sure, but it should be Grey given their relative ages.

    • Aaron

      Still think if the Cubs go with a pitcher, it’s going to be Beede. Can’t ignore that our pitching coordinator was the guy that had Beede at Vandy.

      • SenorGato

        I think that they know more about attitude, workload, work ethic, training techniques, and so on in connection to Beede – first hand experience within the organization – is a huge advantage for him.

        Throw in that he’s basically the only major college pitcher who hasn’t felt some kind of twinge somewhere…

        • Aaron

          Still not convinced that we’re going to take a pitcher, though.

          • SenorGato

            Same

    • ssckelley

      Luke, I still think Rodon could slip through the cracks. I am not convinced the Sox are not after Jackson especially if Kolek and Aiken are taken.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    This just the Cubs luck to get shut out of the Top 3 arms and the next “safest” top college arm blows out his elbow.

    • DarthHater

      [img]https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2910/13945982650_71ee25e289_n.jpg[/img]

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Anyway we need Hoffman falls us to the 2nd round? Not likely and would cost a fortune but I’d be willing to wager the slot amount on signing Hoffman if he fell to the 2nd round

    • Chad

      If the cubs can get Rodon/Aiken/Beede in the first round and Hoffman in the 2nd, absolutely you do that. I doubt he gets out of the first round though.

      • ced landrum

        Hoffman will go in the 1st still. It is a nice dream but it isn’t happening.

        • PrairieBear

          Probably true. But that means he may push one of the borderline prep arms like Jake Bukauskas to the Cubs pick. So there is at least that small silver lining.

          • Orval Overall

            How does that math work? He was a high first rounder before, he’s a low first rounder now, so how would any player get pushed down to us? He would be off the board before our pick either way.

  • Javier Bryant

    I presume Nick Gordon is supposed to be better than his brother Dee? Dee’s been playing pretty well for the Dodgers this year.

  • ssckelley

    Bad news for Hoffman, I hate seeing young players that have worked so hard to get to this point have something like this happen. But this does renew my hope a little that the Cubs would take Alex Jackson. But only a little as I think it would take Rodon being picked at #1 or #2 for that to happen. Otherwise I think the Sox take Jackson at #3 and then Rodon ends up being a Cub.

    • Orval Overall

      Echo your first sentence. What a bad stroke of luck for him, especially given the story that he originally wasn’t drafted out of HS and worked his way up the hard way.

  • JulioZuleta

    Sidenote related to the Tommy John outbreak- Tommy John’s son in law is the longest tenured player in the NFL, Bears longsnapper, Patrick Mannelly. I’m sure a lot of you knew that, but I think it’s interesting. Love Mannelly.

    • Spriggs

      The Bears still have Mannelly? Wow. I remember when they signed him to a long term deal (must have been 10 years ago?) as one of the first things in that off season – a new long snapper… and I remember thinking – “of all the problems this team has, they go out and get a what…”.

      • JulioZuleta

        I should have qualified that. He’s still deciding whether or not to come back next year. I hope he does. I’m 26 years old, I’ve watched probably 90% of the games that Mannelly has played, and I can’t remember one botched snap.

        Also, I guess he’s tied for longest tenured…with Peyton Manning.

        If he does choose to come back, I don’t think any team in the NFL can match the 1-2 mullet punch provided by Mannelly and Jared Allen

        • Spriggs

          I cannot remember a botched snap from him either, but I didn’t realize he’s been their snapper the last several years. It’s amazing. I am not a great fan of the Bears anymore – but I once was. That whole move to Champaign during the construction really pissed me off. My dad had season tickets when they played at Wrigley – all the way through the last year in 1970 (I think that was the year) and I got to go to a lot of games. Sayers is still my hero.

          • Brocktoon

            Only critique of him I can recall was the direct snap to the RB play he called against Green Bay(I think?) that wound up failing.

          • JulioZuleta

            Way before my time, but man, the highlight reels of Sayers are something else. I ran into him at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Schaumburg once, and he was kind of a jerk. Hate it when someone doesn’t live up to how you expect/want them to be.

            • Spriggs

              That’s too bad. I never met him, but heard he is in early stages of Alzheimer’s now. Not sure if that is accurate. He didn’t look too bad at the 100 year Wrigley day.

  • Soda Popinski

    First of all, my thoughts are with Jeff Hoffman and family. Hopefully his recover goes well.
    Second, I wouldn’t mind getting that first bat out of the draft. Seeing Nick G. come up with Jimenez and Torres would be cool, yo. Plus it would give us a lead-off type from the left side in the system. Grow the bats, buy the arms!

  • http://BleacherNation blewett

    I would be very happy with Alex Jackson- especially if he can stick at catcher. If the Sox take him (as rumored) I would be ecstatic with Rodon, Kolek, or Aiken. Anyone outside those four would be a stretch, in my opinion. At least as of this moment…

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