In August 2003, then-Dodger scout Jeff Schugel attended a 25th reunion of his championship American Legion team. Schugel went, relived old memories with his former teammates and watched a Legion entry from that area play. There, he saw a player -- the aforesaid Hoffman -- and talked him into signing with the Dodgers.
Hoffmann was a total unknown. He had been named the state's Class AAA Player of the Year after leading New Ulm to the state title. It's just that, as good as he was on the diamond, it seemed clear to most that hockey was Hoffmann's game.
However, hockey and baseball seem to go hand in hand. Orel Hershiser and Eric Gagné both stood out on the ice before switching to the summer game.
So although he had been so prominent a bruising defenseman that he had been drafted by the Caroline Hurricanes of the NHL, and had decided to accept a scholarship to Colorado College, an NCAA ice powerhouse, the Dodgers won out.
Hoffman debuted in 2004 in the Gulf Coast League in which he promptly became one of the league's best. At 6-3, 205, he was a powerhouse third baseman with a stroke that was somewhat long but still quick to the ball and produced solid numbers.
When the season was over he had hit .310, leading the league in hits (71), triples (7), RBI (36) and runs (40). He was also among the leaders in stolen bases (14 out of 19 tries) and that plus those triples is what surprised the Dodgers the most for they didn't believe at first that someone of his size (6-3, 205) could move so quickly.
"We had a 40-yard dash in spring training, " Jamie told Bill Shelley. "When I won they looked at me and said, 'What's going on here?'"
Hoffman has been a third baseman, with more than acceptable skills at that post. But the Dodgers, looking down the road, know well that they have two excellent prospects at that position -- Andy LaRoche and Blake DeWitt. So with his other skills, Hoffmann was converted into an outfielder.
He's an aggressive player who battled back after a late-season slump dropped his average. He moves well and is quick on the bases, stealing 14.
Moving to Columbus in 2005, he was moved into the leadoff slot, and switched from third base to the outfield. Not only to the outfield but to center where swiftness is absolutely required.
In his rookie season he was the Gulf Coast team's mainstays, a middle-of-the-order man that they loved to see come up with men on. He batted .308 and drove in 24 in 46 games so it was hardly that he failed at his task.
Despite that size, he managed only one home run and though the thought was that as he grows into the game, the long balls will be more frequent. Late in the season at Vero he was moved around in the order and wound up with a .241 mark.
Opening in Vero Beach in 2006, he was ranked by Baseball America as the best defensive outfielder in the Dodger system, and although his average took a hit, slipping to .252, he had a career high in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in and stolen bases.
He got a cup of coffee with Las Vegas and slapped out three hits in 10 trips to the plate, not a bad AAA debut.
He stayed in High-A in 2007, this time with Inland Empire, and picked up momentum as the season moved along. He finished hitting .309 with 134 hits, 22 doubles, seven triples and nine homers, knocking in a career-high 81 runs.
And although the Sixty-Sixers lost a three game playoff with Lake Elsinore, he came into his own. He went 6-for-15 and is RBI double drove in the winning run in the 14th inning in the 4-3 opener; He went 4-for-5 with a solo homer, two runs scored and two RBIs for Inland Empire before being held hitless in the final game, an 8-2 loss. Overall he was 10-for-24 (.417).
He will probably start the 2008 season in Jacksonville.
Jamie Hoffman br tr 6-3 221 Born-August 20, 1984 Obtained-Signed as a non-drafted free agent 2004 year team ave obp gm ab r h 2b 3b hr bi sb 2004 GCLg .310 .374 60 229 40 71 8 7 4 36 14 2005 Colum .308 .383 79 321 53 99 13 9 1 24 10 VBeach .241 .287 46 166 26 40 6 2 1 10 3 2006 VBeach .252 .309 121 133 50 109 16 0 5 29 15 LVegas .300 .417 4 10 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 2007 IEmp .309 .378 116 433 67 134 22 7 9 81 19