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.”

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.