Adding yet another outfielder to the series, here’s one who landed with the Dodgers organization in a weird way before making his way to the majors via another odd circumstance. While the first player finished with just 28 plate appearances, the second ended up with just three despite landing as a Top 10 prospect within the organization on multiple occasions.
An eighth round pick of the … Carolina Hurricanes in the 2003 NHL Draft, Hoffmann went undrafted in the 2002 MLB Draft out of New Ulm High School in Minnesota. Joining the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, Hoffmann finished his 60-game run with 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) while playing center, leading to the Hurricanes drafting him. Planning to play for Colorado College before eventually signing with the Hurricanes, Hoffmann’s plans changed when the Dodgers offered him a contract while he finished up the summer playing in an American Legion tournament.
Signing with the Dodgers on his 19th birthday, Hoffmann made his professional debut for the Gulf Coast League Dodgers in June 2004. Slashing .310/.374/.459/.833, Hoffmann was named a Gulf Coast League All-Star while playing third base. Splitting time between Single-A Columbus and High-A Vero Beach in 2005, Hoffmann made the move to center field and slashed .285/.351/.382/.733 between the two levels. Ranked #27 in the Dodgers organization, Hoffmann remained at High-A Vero Beach in 2006 and then went to High-A Inland Empire in 2007 before finally making the jump to Double-A in 2008, hitting .278/.350/.395/.745 while playing right field.
That pushed him to #22 in the organization according to Baseball America entering the 2009, where Hoffmann started the year at Double-A Chattanooga before jumping to Triple-A Albuquerque in May to replace Xavier Paul, who had moved up to Los Angeles to replace the suspended Manny Ramirez on the roster. Having made his major league debut, Paul played just 11 games before going on the DL and sending Hoffmann to the majors just a few weeks after playing in Double-A
Going 0-for-2 in his first to plate appearances off the bench, Hoffmann started against the Angels on May 24 and connected for his first career hit, a three-run homer off of Matt Palmer. Adding a run-scoring double in the eighth inning, Hoffmann’s two hits and four RBIs would be the best game of his major league career. Adding another two RBIs and a double a day later in Colorado, Hoffmann had just one more single in 13 plate appearances across 10 games. Sent back down to Albuquerque for A.J. Ellis, Hoffmann was designated for assignment to make room for Jon Garland.
A .284/.360/.455/.815 line in 293 plate appearances for Albuquerque led to the Yankees selecting him (via the Nationals) with the first overall pick of the 2009 Rule 5 Draft. Returned to the Dodgers before the 2010 season began, Hoffman played the whole season in Triple-A and played in just two games for Los Angeles in April 2011 before once again spending the year in Albuquerque.
Claimed off waivers by the Rockies in December 2011, Hoffmann elected for free agency during Spring Training and signed with the Baltimore Orioles, where he spent the year with Triple-A Norfolk. A free agent again after 2012, Hoffmann signed with the Mets and played 116 games for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013, which would be his final professional appearance.
Drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2000 MLB Draft, Hill was taken four picks after the Cardinals selected Yadier Molina.
Playing 64 games for Low-A Yakima of the Northwest League, Hill debuted at #30 in the Dodgers’ organization rankings from Baseball America before the 2001 season. Finishing with a .301/.368/.398/.766 line for the Single-A Wilmington Waves in 2001, Hill moved to #11 on Baseball America’s organization rankings for 2002, and jumped to #6 for 2003 as he opened the year in Double-A before reaching Triple-A Las Vegas.
Hitting .314/.346/.401/.746 in 85 games for the 51s, Hill was named as a Pacific Coast League All-Star and made his major league debut in September of 2003. Pinch hitting in the seventh inning against the Rockies, Hill doubled to right for his first career hit. However, Hill would only get two more plate appearances over the next three weeks as the Dodgers.
Stuck behind Paul Lo Duca and David Ross to enter the 2004 season, Hill opened the season in Triple-A and ranked #9 in the team’s prospect rankings. Slashing .286/.339/.471/.811, Hill was named a Triple-A All-Star and to the 2004 Futures Game. While Lo Duca was traded to the Marlins on July 30, Hill never had the opportunity to be recalled to Los Angeles, as a day later he was sent to the Diamondbacks along with Reggie Abercrombie and Bill Murphy for Steve Finley and catcher Brent Mayne. Playing 13 games with Arizona, Hill went 4-for-4 against the Braves and 3-for-5 with his first career homer against the Pirates before breaking his ankle.
Hill’s career then cycled through Arizona, the New York Yankees, the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Cincinnati, the Cubs again, Washington, Texas, Miami, Washington again and Philadelphia.
A disappointing 2005 led the Diamondbacks to designate Hill for assignment, with the Yankees claiming Hill and sending him to Triple-A for the year. Signing a minor league deal with the Cubs in November 2006, Hill spent five years with the organization, including 252 games in the majors.
Bouncing from the Cardinals to the Reds, the Cubs brought Hill back from 11 more games in the majors before he landed with the Nationals and Rangers to finish off 2012. Stints with the Marlins and Phillies, with a brief return to the Nationals between the two, led to 28 more games in the majors before his career was over.