Troy Tulowitzki has been known as one of the top short stops in the game when healthy over the last six or seven years. He was the face of the Rockies franchise and could hold the title as Greatest Rockie Ever. When healthy (you may see this phrase a few times in regards to Tulo), he can easily lay claim to being one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball.
Many teams would foam at the mouth with the opportunity to add a slugger of Tulowitzki's caliber to their line-up. The Toronto Blue Jays wound up being the lucky team to snag him when the opportunity arose. In the wee hours of the morning, the Rockies and Blue Jays matched up on the signature trade of the 2015 trade deadline season.
A pair of All-Star short stops swap places with Tulowitzki pairing with veteran right handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins in heading to Toronto while Jose Reyes goes to Colorado alongside three prospects. Toronto will assume the remainder of Tulowitzki's contract (~$102M through 2020 with a $15M option on 2021 and a $4M buyout), and Colorado will take on the rest of Reyes' deal (~$52M through 2017 with a $22M option on 2018 and a $4M buyout) without any extra money changing hands.
With all three major league players involved being well-known commodities, lets look at the three players Colorado will be adding to their farm system.
RHP Jeff Hoffman, 22 years old
Ht/Wt - 6'4, 185 LB, Acquired - 2014 Draft, 1st Rd (9th overall)
This East Carolina alum was generating buzz that he could go first overall in the 2014 draft. Armed with a high octane fastball and wicked hook, Hoffman obliterated the prestigious Cape Cod League the summer before his Junior season and quickly rose up draft boards. Unfortunately, an elbow injury resulting in Tommy John Surgery occurred prior to the draft and scrapped those plans. With the success of recent Tommy John survivors, the Toronto Blue Jays jumped at the chance to select him as he slid to the ninth overall spot in the draft. $3.08M later and Hoffman was Blue Jays property as he slogged through rehab.
The lanky, athletic right hander didn't make his professional debut until earlier this year, making his first appearances with High-A Dunedin of the Florida State League after teasing pre-TJS stuff in extended spring. He made 11 starts with Dunedin, totaling 56 frames with 38 punch outs (6.11 K/9, 16.7 K%), 15 walks (2.31 BB/9, 6.6 BB%), and 59 hits allowed with a 3.21 ERA and 3.71 FIP. Despite the somewhat pedestrian numbers, this was all the brass needed to see to feel comfortable bumping the 22 year old up to AA New Hampshire. Hoffman has made two starts with his new team, striking out eight with nine hits and two walks allowed in 11.2 innings of work.
The scouting report on Jeff Hoffman starts with a 93-97 mph four seam fastball that comes out of his hand with ease. He's shown the ability to spot it to both sides of the plate and could wind up having plus command. He also sports a two seamer that shows arm-side run and late sink. Add a lethal breaking ball showing big downward action with double plus potential, a quickly developing change up, and a seldom used slider that still have average potential. The rosiest outlook makes that's three pitches with plus potential and two more at least average to go with plus command. That's the recipe for a top of the rotation arm.
Now, the scouting report doesn't exactly match with the numbers. A guy with this stuff should be striking out lower level players at a prodigious rate, not 6.1 per nine innings. Word from FanGraphs prospect guru Kiley McDaniel is that the Jays had Hoffman intentionally concentrating on using more change ups, dialing back the viciousness of his curve, and aiming for weak contact early in counts. This could be something to explain the pedestrian numbers yet stellar reports.
RHP Miguel Castro, 20 years old
Ht/Wt - 6'5, 190 LB, Acquired - 2011 IFA
Back in 2011, the Toronto Blue Jays spent a lot of money in the international market, but only $180,000 of it went towards getting Miguel Castro to put pen to paper. The Dominican native breezed through three levels of the minor leagues in 2014, starting the year in the short season Northwest League and finishing it in the Florida State League. He made a total of 16 appearances, 15 starts, spanning a hair over 82 innings with strong dominance ratios. What I mean by that is a high strike out rate and a low batting average against. This tells me he is missing bats and generating weak contact. Castro struck out 78 (8.96 K/9, 25.2 K%), issued 30 free passes (3.28 BB/9, 9.2 BB%), and allowed just 50 hits for a .188 batting average.
The Jays made noise bringing Castro north of the border to start the year in the bullpen. He spent the first month of the year there, posting a 4.38 ERA in 12.1 innings with a 12/6 K/BB and four saves. He has since pitched 19.2 innings with Triple-A Buffalo posting a 4.58 ERA with a 21/12 K/BB.
Castro's fastball has been clocked as high as 99 MPH and averages almost 96. He mixes in a change-up and a slider; pre-season the change was considered the best of the two secondaries. Although used primarily as a reliever this year, he's generally been seen as a starting pitcher candidate long-term. We'll have to see how the Rockies choose to deploy him.
RHP Jesus Tinoco, 20 years old
Ht/Wt - 6'4, 190 LB, Acquired - 2011 IFA
Tinoco is a 6-4, 190 pound Venezuelan signed in 2011. Age 20, he was pitching for the Lansing Lugnuts in the Low-A Midwest League this year, posting a 3.54 ERA in 81 innings with a 68/22 K/BB and 88 hits allowed.
Somewhat similar to Castro, Tinoco is a live-armed pitcher with a fastball in the mid-90s, topping out at 97. His slider and change-up are in the developmental stages but both have the potential to be at least average major league pitches with more refinement. He has made substantial progress with pitchability and consistency this spring and early summer and could develop into a mid-rotation starter, with relief work a backup possibility.