In three years wearing an East Carolina baseball jersey, Jeff Hoffman established himself as one of the most prolific collegiate athletes to ever don the Purple and Gold. He solidified his spot in ECU record books Thursday by being selected ninth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Major League Baseball Draft.
The draft selection makes Hoffman the highest-drafted player in ECU history. That title previously belonged to Theodore "Blue" Edwards, who was taken 21st overall in the 1989 National Basketball Association Draft by the Utah Jazz.
"It's amazing," said associate athletic director Shelley Binegar. "Break it? He shattered it! 21st was our highest draft pick with "Blue" Edwards for the NBA. The highest baseball was 32nd with Pat Watkins. So, this is amazing that he just killed this at ninth. He's set the bar high now for future Pirates."
Getting drafted ninth overall is a fitting end to Hoffman's stellar career at ECU. His junior campaign ended prematurely due to season-ending Tommy John surgery. With a 3-3 record and a 2.94 ERA, he made quite the impact before being put on the shelf.
The right-hander had been pegged as a top-five pick prior to his surgery. His stock only dropped to a projected top-15 status and he ended up being chosen in the top-10, which is a testament to the confidence scouts have in his talent.
Hoffman played what turned out to be his final game on April 17 versus Middle Tennessee. He shutout the Blue Raiders in eight innings on the mound. More importantly, he turned out a stunning performance that saw him strike out 16 batters while the presidents of the Chicago Cubs and White Sox—Theo Epstein and Kenny Williams—looked on from the stands.
That performance was the best individual pitching performance, in terms of strikeouts, since Ayden Butler struck out 17 against St. Augustine in 1992. Before breaking it in that game, Hoffman had set a personal best earlier in the season by fanning 11 batters in a 2-1, extra-inning win versus Western Kentucky on February 28.
In his three years with ECU, Hoffman had an even 12-12 record with a 3.27 ERA. He fanned a total of 211 batters in 44 games (250.2 innings pitched). He was named to the All-Freshman team in 2011 and is a four-time Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Week, with the most recent honor being a result of the aforementioned 16-strikeout performance.
Hoffman could find himself working with another former Pirate in the Blue Jays system. Clayton McCullough has been a manager in the team's system since 2007. After winning back-to-back championships with the Vancouver Canadians and a manager-of-the-year title, he was appointed to coordinator of instruction for Toronto's minor-league teams.