Tigers Prospect Profile #44: Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman put together a solid season in Triple-A Toledo in 2012, and followed that up with a good showing in the Arizona Fall League representing the club. Is Hoffman ready to challenge for a spot on the 25-man roster this spring?

Matt Hoffman
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 225
Born: 11/8/1988
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Acquired: 2007 MLB Draft, 26th Round
Ranking History: #53 (2007), #56 (2008), #43 (2009), #31 (2010), #38 (2011)

Background
A 26th round pick of the Tigers in 2007, the club gave him a $175,000 signing bonus as he came out of the same high school that produced former Tigers prospect Dallas Trahern.

Hoffman didn't debut until 2008 when he posted a 3.39 ERA between short-season Oneonta and full-season West Michigan. In 71 2/3 innings across those levels he allowed only 68 hits and walked 38 while striking out 64 opponents, despite being just 19-years old.

Again in 2009 Hoffman split his time between two levels, returning to West Michigan for a stint, but also tossing 62 1/3 innings for Lakeland. In 102 2/3 innings, Hoffman allowed 103 hits and struck out only 65 batters, showing a noticeable decline from his debut performance.

The Tigers shifted Hoffman to relief in 2010 and he notched a 5.20 ERA across three levels, including a 1.59 ERA out of the High-A Lakeland bullpen where he tossed 22 2/3 innings before some aggressive promotions. For the year, Hoffman fanned 44 batters in 53 2/3 innings and then exploded in the Arizona Fall League, bumping 97 mph with his fastball.

In 2011, Hoffman spent all but one game with Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.18 ERA with 60 hits and 23 walks allowed across 62 1/3. Over that span, he whiffed 46 batters and allowed only three home runs.

Hoffman struggled some in 2012 as he returned to Toledo yet again, posting a 3.69 ERA but allowing a noticeable spike in his hits allowed rate and a small decrease in his strikeout rate.

Scouting Report
Hoffman's days as a mid-90s fireballer are squarely behind him. His body has thickened and gotten stronger, giving him greater durability and allowing him to generate more consistent velocity. His fastball sits in the low-90s and can touch 94 mph from a side-arm slot.

The breaking ball Hoffman has settled on is a slurvy pitch that occasionally shows tight spin and the ability to miss bats, particularly when finished away from left-handed hitters. He has found some success burying the pitch on the back foot of right-handed hitters, but that success has been inconsistent.

Hoffman generally throws strikes but does have bouts of wildness that can get him in trouble. He is not a refined command artist, but he has improved his ability to keep the ball down. He works much better to his glove side than his arm side.

With his low arm angle, Hoffman struggles with right-handed hitters and profiles as a left-on-left reliever at the big-league level. When his breaking ball is working well, he can work over lefties pretty easily and could be a solid situational guy.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

BAA

AAA

Toledo

1-2

3.69

43

0

0

32

16

46.1

.289


Health Record
Hoffman's very minor shoulder soreness from 2009 continues to fade in the rearview mirror. He has been healthy and durable out of the bullpen over the last three years.

Projection
Hoffman was removed from the Tigers 40-man roster earlier this week, helping the club make room for the additions of right-hander Anibal Sanchez and catcher Brayan Pena. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers will likely extend Hoffman an invitation to big-league spring training.

Hoffman is a pretty big long shot to make the club out of spring training, but he could be in the mix as a lefty specialist at some point. Hoffman has very little to prove in the minor leagues. Injury and/or ineffectiveness at the big-league level is really the only thing preventing him from getting a chance.

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