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.”

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.