Report: Jeff Hoffman could be a first-round pick despite Tommy John surgery

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East Carolina University pitcher Jeff Hoffman was long mentioned as a potential top-five pick in next month’s First-Year Player Draft, but he’s expected to fall on the board now that he’s headed for Tommy John surgery. However, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman hears that it’s still possible he’ll be selected in the first round:

Hard-throwing right-handed pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman lost his chance to be a top-four pick in next month’s MLB draft of amateurs, after news hit that Hoffman needed Tommy John surgery. However, scouting directors still suggest it’s possible he could be a first-round pick, and possibly even a top-10-15 pick.

Scouting directors also suggested that teams with multiple high picks might be more likely to use a pick on Hoffman, who still is seen as having a high ceiling but will come with the small question of surgery results. The situation is akin to highly-regarded right-hander Lucas Giolito, who was picked No. 16 overall as a prep pitcher two drafts ago by the Nationals. There were concerns with him over a UCL that required Tommy John surgery as well.

Teams with multiple early picks might be more willing to take the gamble, as they also have the draft pool money attached to those picks. With that in mind, teams like the Blue Jays, Royals, Red Sox, and Astros are worth watching. The Royals found themselves in a similar situation last year, when they took left-hander Sean Manaea with their competitive balance pick amid concerns about his hip. They could get creative again this year.

Hoffman, 21, had a 2.94 ERA and 72/20 K/BB ratio in 67 1/3 innings this season prior to being shut down. According to Clint Longenecker of Baseball America, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has “easy mid-90s velocity and two offspeed pitches that show at least plus potential in addition to above-average control.”

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.