J.J. Hoover, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 215 DOB: August 13, 1987
The Reds picked up J.J. Hoover from the Braves last spring for Juan Francisco. Hoover has been a personal favorite of mine for some time, so I was pleased to see how well he pitched in Triple-A and the majors last year. He's at the 30-inning limit I normally set for relievers, but is still technically a rookie, so here he is again. Hoover's fastball has settled in at 92-93 MPH in relief. He has a very good curveball and a better changeup than most relievers, and his background as a starter means you can stretch him out a bit more than the typical bullpen arm. He doesn't use his slider much anymore, but if by some chance he ever returned to starting, it's there. Hoover should make an excellent middle reliever and will probably get a chance to close games for someone eventually. Grade B-.
Mason Hope, RHP, Miami Marlins
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 195 DOB: June 27, 1992
Hope was drafted in the fifth round in 2011, from high school in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he was a teammate of Diamondbacks prospect Archie Bradley and rival of Orioles megaprospect Dylan Bundy. Hope was a solid prospect in his own right and it took $250,000 to buy him away from the University of Oklahoma. I had him rated as a Sleeper Alert guy last year and he still looks like a very interesting property after a solid campaign in the New York-Penn League. Hope works with a 90-94 MPH sinking fastball. His curveball is very good and he's developing his changeup. His strikeout rate wasn't terrific in the NY-P, but he gave up just one homer and posted a 1.75 GO/AO ratio, stats which confirm the scouting reports of a strong sinker. He's still a Grade C+ and has a shot at becoming a mid-rotation starter.
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