A central piece in the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto last summer, Hoffman finds himself in Triple-A to start the 2016 season despite having thrown just 104 professional innings (all in 2015) after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014. Through four starts, Hoffman looks at home in Albuquerque, with the former first rounder tallying 22.2 IP and striking out 19 while allowing 19 hits and nine walks. Opponents are hitting just .226 against the East Carolina product.
In his most recent start against Las Vegas, Hoffman worked from the low-to-middle 90s with his fastball, touching 97 mph with the four-seamer and sitting mostly 92-to-93 mph with his lively two-seamer. Both his curveball and his changeup can play to plus, with the latter serving as a quality two-strike weapon, coming with good deception off the fastball and impressive tumble. He has struggled some to consistently command his hard-breaking curve, but has not shied away from working the pitch both early and late in counts to both righties and lefties alike.
Hoffman has the pure stuff to settle in as a true front-end starter, and could end up with two legit double-plus weapons in his fastball and curveball if he can find enough feel to hit his spots in the zone with more consistency. His changeup will be an important tool for him in the thin air of Denver, and it bodes well for him that he’s already showing confidence utilizing the offering and both throwing it for strikes and running it out of the zone when ahead in the count. –Nick J. Faleris