Welcome to the BSN Denver Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25 where we will rank the organization’s best players who will be 25 years-old or younger on Opening Day 2017.
Our parameters for this list may be different than others it resembles so let us be clear about them:
The list was created entirely by the BSN Rockies staff and had no other input from any outside sources.
While giving credit for overall (or trade) value, we prioritized an ability to help the MLB club win immediately.
In accordance with this, we also prioritized players with fewer question marks but potentially lower ceilings.
Statistics were considered on equal level with scouting reports in addition to our own field reporting.
Our observations come through a combination of spending parts of each of the past four (going on five) seasons on the ground on the backfields at spring training and through our regular reporting from Rookie Level Grand Junction, talking to coaches, scouts, and journalists both on and off the record. Of course, countless hours are spent on MiLB.tv and combing over public reports from other credible sources.
No. 5: Jeff Hoffman, 24 (RHP)
Whether or not you call him the centerpiece of the Troy Tulowitzki trade, the next Jon Gray, or simply Colorado Rockies right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman, the young man with the inside track on the fifth rotation spot is set to have a highly discussed 2017 season.
At one time thought to be the top dog in the 2014 draft, Tommy John surgery saw him drop to the Toronto Blue Jays and No. 9 before eventually being traded to the Rockies for their former-face-of-the-franchise shortstop. Hoffman made his pro debut in 2015 with pretty good results, especially considering he was fresh off the surgery and was traded after pitching just 68 innings as a professional. He posted a 2.81 ERA across two levels and two systems which made the Rockies feels comfortable keeping the train moving and giving him the start at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2016.
Over 22 games (118.2 innings) while pitching in a notoriously offensive league, Hoffman notched a 4.02 ERA, while striking out 9.41 hitters per nine innings and walking 3.34, all career highs.
We might as well begin with the Jon Gray comparisons at this point because while those numbers from Hoffman in Triple-A might not seem all that impressive, they did best the Rockies current most exciting pitcher in his campaign from that level. Gray put up a 4.33 ERA with an 8.66 K/9 rate and 3.23 BB/9. Both pitchers work off of a hard fastball that sets up an out pitch, in Gray's case the slider, with Hoffman the curve. Both were also considered potential number one overall picks in their respective drafts and together represent the highest "ace" potential the Rockies have to offer.
The parallels continued into their MLB debut. In 2015, Gray got 40.2 innings at the Major League level, pitching to the tune of a 5.53 ERA, but with promising peripheral numbers in line with his career marks. A year later, Hoffman picked up 31.1 innings with a 4.88 ERA but considerably worse peripherals. It's worth noting that out of the gate, Hoffman faced the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. While the numbers weren't great -- as you might expect from a rookie -- his response on the mound earned him the "Fearless" moniker from his teammates.
Whether or not Hoffman can take that next step the way Gray did is arguably storyline number one going into the Colorado Rockies 2017 campaign. If he takes that kind of step, not necessarily becoming an All-Star but showcasing longer and longer moments of dominance, he could be the strongest gust of wind in the Rockies sails on a ship headed for the postseason.