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.”

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.