Hoffman Undeterred By MLB Prospect Ranking

Hoffman Undeterred By MLB Prospect Ranking

East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman is among the top-ranked prospects for the 2014 MLB Draft, but he's not letting that honor deter him from his goals for the Pirates.

With football season in full swing, few are focusing on the upcoming baseball season. East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman is one of those few.

Heading into this season, Hoffman is pegged as a potential first-round pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. Last year, he finished with an earned run average of 3.20 and struck out 84 opponents in just under 110 innings pitched.

Hoffman's focus is elsewhere, though. "I try not to think about it much," said Hoffman. "I still have a full spring here to play and, obviously, a lot can change over the course of a spring."

With many goals laid out for this season, getting picked in the first round of the draft isn't a priority for Hoffman. Instead, he's focused on the success of the team.

"I want to win a good amount of games for us this year and try and get us to another regional," said Hoffman. "Last year was kind of disappointing. This year, it's going to be important to me to have success this spring over everything else."

Hoffman's key to leading the Pirates to another regional appearance lied in his ability to keep building off experiences. During his freshman season, he allowed 30 earned runs in 73.2 innings pitched. As his workload increased this past season, he continued to improve on those numbers.

"My first two years, I got to watch a lot of the older guys," said Hoffman. "Last year, I was thrown right into the fire with being on Friday night. I'm just going to come out here again and try and be a leader to these young guys."

Leadership is a key for Hoffman this season. Instead of focusing on the draft, his aim is to lead the team and, more importantly, its seniors to Omaha for their final season.

"I'd really like to get to a super-regional—get a chance to play for Omaha, especially if it's going to be my last year here," said Hoffman. "I want to be successful for the guys around me. Above all else, I want to win games and let these guys see the country and get them to places they're never going to see again. I just want to come out and win as many games as possible and have fun."

Hoffman also expects others to step into leadership roles if the Pirates are to be successful this season. One player he's looking forward to seeing lead the Pirates is senior pitcher Ryan Williams.

"I think the biggest role you can play on this team is maturity," said Hoffman. "You have all the young guys coming in—18 and 19 year olds. They don't really know what to expect. But, if you have a guy like Williams who is 22 years old and he's been around and seen it all, I think it's huge."

Hoffman spent his summer preparing for the spring by playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League. His remarkable fastball made him one of the top prospects coming out of Cape Cod.

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