The Scout #6: Blake Hoffman


Blake Hoffman might only have a couple of tournaments under his belt, but he is no newbie with the Wiffle Ball. The teenage southpaw spent years honing his craft by studying videos of the game’s best pitchers and applying what he learned to his backyard throwing sessions. That practice paid off as Hoffman more than held his own against some of the game’s better players at the MAW Winter Classic this February. The scary thing is he is likely only going to get better as he gains more tournament experience.

My Name is ERL’s lanky left-hander has a simple motion that he’s able to repeat with relative ease. He hides the ball well and he starts from the same general arm slot for most every pitch, making it difficult for batters to read what is coming. With left-handed pitchers being such a rare commodity in this game, Hoffman holds an inherent advantage over opposing batters. He adds to that advantage with a quality screwball/drop that comes right at a right-handed hitter before darting down and away. That pitch from a left-hander is not something hitters have to deal with often, which makes Hoffman extra tough to hit. At the Winter Classic, he mixed in an equally challenging low riser that drew a lot of looking strikes. By his own admission, Hoffman does not throw that pitch often but had it working in Medford so he leaned on it more heavily than he otherwise would. That is a clear sign of his pitching acumen.

This is no crafty lefty, either – Hoffman brings plus velocity and thus far has been able to maintain it deep into tournaments. The most popular upload on Hoffman's YouTube channel is not one of his pitching sessions, but rather a highlight video of Aroldis Chapman's 2012 season. Like Chapman, Blake combines plus movement with plus velocity for what amounts to a deadly combination. He has good control of his pitches but still has room to improve his command within the strike zone. His pitch selection is another area where he has room for improvement, which will likely come with more experience against quality hitters.

At the plate, Hoffman is more of a work in process. He has a smooth swing but at times it appears to be a little long through the zone which hurts his ability to make contact against higher velocity pitchers. His pitch selection can also be improved on, which again, is something that should improve with additional experience. The plan is for Hoffman to play in several Mid Atlantic tournaments this summer alongside his My Name is ERL teammates (the long commute from Ohio might limit the total number of dates he is able to make) and if all goes well, he’s going to get a lot of Rookie of the Year votes come September.

The Scout #3: Will Marshall

Throughout the 2017-2018 offseason, The Drop will be profiling and scouting the top players under 25 in the game.

Will Marshall (RHP)

(Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

(Photo: Ryan M. Dute, Ryte Photography)

Will Marshall was a star player in his own Texas Wiffleball League for many years before breaking out on the national scene in 2017. Marshall’s velocity is his greatest and most obvious tool. A hard thrower to begin with, his pitches play up even more thanks to his deceiving frame and compact delivery. Marshall’s riser lacks the movement necessary to make it a plus pitch but the velocity allows it to remain an above average offering. His best pitch is a tailing dropper with a slight fade away from right handed hitters. He has command of both pitches and is able to locate them in and around the zone as needed. Marshall – who has plans to play semi-pro baseball in 2018 – is an excellent athlete and capable of getting three to four games deep in a tournament without any noticeable decline in stuff. The right hander from Frisco is still trying to find the best way to prepare the ball to achieve his desired results. A key to his future success may rest in his ability to find the ball and grip combo that gives him the most movement possible on his riser. In any event, Marshall can already stake a claim as one of the best active, full time pitchers outside of the northeast corridor. He has room to grow into one of the top pitchers in the nation.

As a timing device while at the plate, Will lifts his feet up and down in a stationary walking motion before the pitcher goes into his delivery. While his hands and the bat stay relatively quiet by comparison, the jittery set up makes him susceptible to both premium velocity and big breaking balls. Marshall has quick hands and a smooth swing, which would indicate significant power potential waiting to be unlocked. Marshall is already a disciplined hitter but like many young players he could use additional reps against high level pitching to improve his pitch recognition skills.

Given his athleticism, Marshall should be an above average defender. He is quick on his feet and has demonstrated the ability to make throws from the furthest parts of the infield with relative ease. At the Fast Plastic Texas Open, his defensive miscues were largely mental errors – the result of acclimating himself to the non-running version of the game. In all likelihood he will be an above average defender in the near future with his quickness and strong arm giving him the upside of an all-star caliber fielder.

The Scout #2: Connor Young

Throughout the 2017-2018 offseason, The Drop will be profiling and scouting the top players under 25 in the game.

Connor Young (RHP)


After taking the 2016 season off, Young came back in 2017 and was fantastic on the mound.  His 78 innings pitched lead MAW and he recorded every out for his team in the regular season.  He's got a plus-plus drop and a plus riser.  Connor keeps hitters off balance with an eephus like curveball but doesn't go to that well very often.  I worry a little bit about his violent delivery possibly leading to an injury but with ERL's recent pick up of Blake Hoffman, Young won't have to carry all of the pitching in ’18. The reduced workload should go a long way to keeping his arm healthy. It is a cliche, but when Young is on, he's almost impossible to beat.

At the plate, Young's quick hands provide him with really good power.  I'd like to see a little more patience because he could be an on-base machine but thus far into his career, his aggressive approach has netted him more positives than negatives.  Joe Schlindwein's growth at the plate should also provide Young with more protection.  If Blake Hoffman can hit at all, teams won't be able to pitch around Young as often, allowing him to get more pitches in the strike zone to hit and reduce the pressure to chase pitches off the plate. If he becomes a little more selective, Young could transform from a very good hitter into an excellent one.

Defensively, we haven't seen him anywhere else other than on the mound.  As a pitcher, he fields his position well, thanks to quick reaction times and soft hands. With Hoffman aboard next season, we will get a chance to see how Young takes to other positions on defense. He has plenty of arm strength to go with the range and accuracy necessary to handle any position on the field.