When the Major League Baseball Draft gets rolling on Monday afternoon, don’t expect Jeff Hoffman to pay much attention.
He hardly watched any of his own.
Nonetheless, he retains fond memories of his draft day experience in 2014.
Prior to Saturday’s 5-2 Fresno win over Albuquerque in front of an announced Star Wars Night crowd of 12,073 at Isotopes Park, Hoffman, the 25-year-old Isotopes right-handed pitcher, recalled his draft-day memories of four years ago.
“My draft day, there was a whole bunch of emotions,” recalls Hoffman, who is on the Colorado Rockies 40-man roster and has appeared in 31 major league games since being drafted out of East Carolina University.
“We didn’t really know what was going to happen because of the arm (he had Tommy John surgery about a month prior to the draft). We kind of had a feeling that one of two teams in the first round was going to take me, but we didn’t know for sure.”
As it turned out, Hoffman didn’t have to wait long to find out where he was headed for his professional career.
In a house full of about 65 family, friends, and former coaches, Hoffman said they had the MLB Network broadcast of the draft showing on a projector.
When it was announced he had been selected No. 9 overall in the first round by Toronto, he learned he would be a Blue Jay at the same time as everyone else.
“Whenever I saw it on TV was the first time I knew. I wasn’t told about it beforehand. Nobody called or anything,” Hoffman said. “Then I got a call from the (general manager) about five minutes later. He just said, ‘We just took you (with the No. 9 pick). Now we’ll start negotiating with your agent.’ That was about it.”
While everyone was thrilled for him, he recalled one person’s reaction more than any.
“My grandmother was pretty emotional,” Hoffman said. “That is probably the one that stands out. I went straight over to her and gave her a hug. Before I knew it, she had tears coming down her face. … They were tears of joy, obviously.”
Oh, so she wasn’t upset about where you got drafted?
“Well, we grew up Red Sox fans, so she probably was a little,” Hoffman said. “But that day, no, she was happy.”
Any feeling grandma or any of the other Red Sox lovers in the Hoffman house had about his playing for the Blue Jays changed 13 months later. Hoffman was the key acquisition by the Rockies in the huge July 2015 trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to Toronto for Hoffman and three other players.
This season, Hoffman has a 3-4 record with a 4.29 ERA in nine games with the Isotopes. He has struck out 56 hitters and walked 22 in 471/3 innings.
As for that draft day four years ago, Hoffman only recalls two picks – his and two picks later when Toronto picked again.
“I remember watching the next Blue Jays pick, just to see who they would take,” Hoffman said. “It was Max Pentecost and we became pretty close, actually. I went nine and he went 11, so it wasn’t much time. And after that, yeah, I don’t think I watched much.”
In the three drafts since, he hasn’t watched and says he only checks to see where other ECU players go.
“The rest of it,” Hoffman says, “those guys are all just trying to take my job, so I don’t really care that much about it.”
OTHER END: At the other end of the draft spectrum is Isotopes’ teammate David Holman, who was drafted in the 50th round (there are no longer 50 rounds) by the Seattle Mariners in 2010.
The 28-year-old Isotopes pitcher declined an interview on Saturday. Hoffman said whether you’re picked ninth overall or 1,512th overall like Holman (not that Hoffman knew that number), all any player wants is that chance to prove themselves.
“Look, we’re both right here (on the same team), right now and we’re both one phone call away (from the big leagues),” Hoffman said. “We’re at the same point. That’s pretty cool.”
‘TOPES TODAY for Sunday, June 3
Vs. Fresno, 1:35 p.m.
Radio: 610 AM/95.9 FM
Promotion: Duffle bag giveaway
Probables: Isotopes RHP Yency Almonte (1-3, 7.71) vs. Grizzlies RHP Rogelio Armenteros (3-0, 3.72)
Saturday: Fresno’s three-run first inning, including two home runs, led to a 5-2 victory over Albuquerque in front of an announced Star Wars Night crowd of 12,073.
Fresno 1B Tyler White had two homers, including a solo shot in the first that landed in the parking lot of the CNM campus north of the stadium.
Albuquerque starting LHP Sam Howard settled down after the first inning, but was still tagged with the loss, allowing three runs off four hits in five innings.
Box Score: Fresno 5, Albuquerque 2′
Click here for updated Pacific Coast League standings.