Trackman Spotlight: 2019 RHP Nick Hoffmann


Sean Duncan
PBR Analytics Intern

Any time a pitcher throws a perfect game, it’s a big deal, no matter the level of competition.  Clemson-bound RHP Nick Hoffmann (Centerville HS, OH) happened to do it on a big stage, at the second-annual Midwest Select on April 13 against a physical Gull Lake (MI) club in Westfield, IN.

Typically there are three ingredients in order to throw a perfect game: 1.) The strike pitch has to be in the house. 2.) The pitcher’s stuff has to have some swing-and-miss capabilities. 3.) The defense behind him has to make plays, which is out of the pitcher’s control.

So how did the 6-foot-2 Hoffmann achieve his perfecto? Digging into the Trackman data, the numbers inside the numbers reveal Hoffmann’s ultimate success.

Let’s first start with the strike pitch, which is unequivocally the most important pitch in baseball. Hoffmann threw 77 pitches during the 4-0 victory, 63 of which were strikes. He filled up the strike zone at an astounding 82 percent clip, working mostly off his fastball (57 pitches), followed by his slider (10 of 13 were strikes).

Looking at the results, one could assume that Hoffmann’s fastball simply overpowered hitters. While certainly advanced for a prep right-hander, his average fastball velocity was 88.08, with a high of 90.44. The fastball played mostly true and was fairly flat.

So how did he consistently eat up hitters? Hoffmann’s deception came from his remarkable extension; his top extension on a pitch was 7.34 feet, and averaged around 7-feet. Which means Hoffmann’s perceived velocity was actually 1-2 mph faster than the actual velocity, a rarity for high school pitchers. Simply put, the ball was getting up on hitters quicker because of his release point down the mound. (Perceived velocity helps quantify how fast a pitch appears to a hitter, by factoring the velocity of the pitch and the release point of the pitcher).


The MLB average for fastball spin is 2,200 rpm. Hoffmann’s top fastball spin was 2,293, with an average of 2,117.

His 73-76 mph slider was effective but certainly not wipeout. However, his top spin rate was right around the 2,500 major-league average, coming in at 2,510 with an average of 2,257. While the action of the pitch wasn’t always right, the spin works.

Hoffmann struck out eight batters in the game, and in general didn’t generate an overwhelming amount of swing-and-misses. He did, however, miss a lot of barrels, inducing weak contact consistently. Of the 13 batted balls in play, there was an average exit velocity of 72.73.

Bottom line: If a pitcher throws a high volume of strikes, and misses a lot of barrels, he’s going to have considerable success, no matter the level.

Here is Hoffmann’s in-game scouting report from the Midwest Select:

Clemson recruit, currently ranked No. 15 in Ohio’s 2019 class. 6-foot-2, athletic frame with proportional strength and room for continued physical development. Threw a perfect game with eight strikeouts in the victory. Pounded the strike zone with his 88-91 mph fastball, and mixed in a 73-75 breaking ball. Fastball plays mostly true, but gets up on hitters thanks to his excellent extension, which ranged between 6’10’’-7’3’’; most fastballs had a perceived velocity 1-2 mph faster than the actual velocity (which is rare for high school pitchers), per Trackman data. His final pitch of the game of his perfecto was a 90-mph strikeout. Delivery is athletic and on-line. Deep takeaway in the back with a slight wrap; has the arm speed to get it up and out. Fast hand out front.

 

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