Rockies, Reds Swap Change-Of-Scenery Candidates Ahead Of Thanksgiving
The Rockies and Reds finished a little bit of business in advance of the holiday season by completing a four-player trade that included a swap of veteran big league arms and a pair of prospects—including a 2020 draftee—as well.
The deal sends righthander Jeff Hoffman to the Reds along with 2020 fourth-rounder Case Williams in exchange for righthander Robert Stephenson and outfield prospect Jameson Hannah.
Both Hoffman and Hannah have been dealt before—Hoffman went from the Blue Jays to the Rockies in 2015 as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal and Hannah went from the A’s to the Reds in exchange for righty Tanner Roark.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP
The Blue Jays’ first-round pick out of East Carolina in 2014, Hoffman has been a disappointment in his time in the big leagues, having worked to a career mark of 10-16, 6.40. That said, his numbers are slightly better away from the hitters palace of Coors Field, and his four-seam fastball spun at an average of 2,425 rpms this year, which placed him in 82nd percentile of big leaguers this season. Scouts also note that Hoffman consistently tinkered with his mechanics throughout the season and could improve by finding a more consistent delivery.
Case Williams, RHP
For a brief moment, Williams was on track to be a case of a hometown boy makes good. The Coloradoan was selected by the Rockies in the fourth round this year and was invited to their instructional league this fall. The coronavirus pandemic axed Williams’ senior season before it began, but scouts who saw him on the showcase circuit the previous summer saw a fastball that peaked at around 93 mph as well as a promising but inconsistent mid-70s curveball. Like many high school arms, Williams has a changeup but didn’t need it much and will have to work on its development as a pro.
Case Williams Returns To Hometown Organization
The Rockies feel like the 2020 fourth-rounder is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Robert Stephenson, RHP
The Reds’ No. 1 prospect from 2014-2016, Stephenson’s tantalizing raw stuff was muted somewhat as a big league starter by a lack of command and control. His key pitch is a low-80s slider that he threw more than 65% of the time in 2020. That trend is an extension of 2019, when he moved to the bullpen and began leaning hard on his slider. In 2018, as a starter, he distributed his four-seam fastball and slider in near-equal measure.
He also was hit harder than ever before in 2020, when he allowed a 23.1% barrel rate and worked to a 9.90 ERA in a brief, 10-inning season that was delayed by a mild back strain that sent him to the injured list in July. If he can return to the form he showed in 2019, when he moved to the bullpen and struck out 11.3 hitters per nine innings, he could prove to be a decent pickup.
Jameson Hannah, OF
Hannah was a second-round pick of the A’s back in 2018, when he showed athleticism and polish at Dallas Baptist. He’s got solid contact skills and can fit nicely in all three outfield spots, but he hasn’t particularly wowed evaluators as a pro. Despite plenty of strength, Hannah hit just three home runs in his first full season in the minor leagues, split between the high Class A affiliates for the A’s and Reds. His reviews at the instructional league were similar, with scouts noting that he looked just ordinary despite being older than many of the players in the league. He’ll get a fresh start with the Rockies in 2021, once the minor league season begins.