College: 2014 breakout candidates

College : : Story
Kendall Rogers        
Published: Monday, January 13, 2014

North Carolina State junior lefthanded pitcher Carlos Rodon is the clear-cut favorite to be college baseball’s elite pitcher and the top pick in the Major League Baseball draft in 2014, but there’s someone else also drawing similar attention.

That would be East Carolina junior righthanded pitcher Jeff Hoffman. Though Hoffman hasn’t quite tallied the dominant numbers of Rodon the past couple of seasons, some would say he has identical upside with an impressive frame and big-time overall stuff with a fastball into the mid-90s.

Time will tell if Hoffman can go out and put together an equally dominant campaign like Rodon, but he’s absolutely a great pick to click this spring.

As we near another exciting college baseball season, it’s always interesting to delve into which guys had the most impressive offseason, and which pitchers or hitters have the best shot to breakout and take the next step in their respective careers in the coming months.

Hoffman and others headline our in-depth and impressive list of breakout candidates for the upcoming college baseball season.

Who’s expected to take the next step on the national stage?

Jeff Hoffman, rhp, East Carolina

It’s hard to imagine, but if everything pans out during the 2014 campaign, the nation’s top two starting pitchers will reside in the State of North Carolina in Hoffman and North Carolina State junior lefthanded pitcher Carlos Rodon.

While Rodon already has dominated opposing lineups for an entire season, the same can’t be said for Hoffman — at least not yet. Hoffman, a 6-foot-4, 192-pounder, had a good 2013 campaign, but not one that blows you away. For instance, the talented righty had a 3.20 ERA in 109 2/3 innings of work, while also striking out 84, walking 39 and limiting opposing teams to a .243 batting average.

Hoffman headed to the Cape Cod League this past summer and left behind some strong impressions. The junior sat anywhere from 94-97 with his fastball, even touching 98, while also showing off a good and developing low-80s curveball. Statistically, Hoffman finished the summer with a 3.69 ERA in 24 1/3 innings, along with 33 strikeouts and five walks.

ECU coach Billy Godwin feels good about his team’s chances to make a statement in ’14, and Hoffman’s expected rise is a big reason for the increased confidence.

Hoffman currently ranks as the nation’s second-best prospect for next summer’s Major League Baseball draft.

Michael Cederoth, rhp, San Diego State

There are always lots of eyeballs on Southern California when it comes to prospects, but there will be some special attention placed on the San Diego State righthanded pitcher during the upcoming campaign.

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