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Two locals picked in MLB draft

Hoffman picked ninth overall by Toronto; O’Keefe goes to St. Louis in seventh round

— Jeff Hoffman and Brian O’Keefe are going pro.

The two town residents and former Suburban Council all-stars were each selected in this year’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft last week. Hoffman, a Shaker High School graduate, landed with the Toronto Blue Jays with the ninth overall pick, while O’Keefe, a Colonie grad, was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh round.

Hoffman – a starting pitcher at East Carolina University – had been rated a top-five overall pick and a potential No. 1 overall pick until he needed Tommy John surgery on his pitching shoulder last month. Still, the Blue Jays felt strongly enough about his skills on the mound that they moved up two spots to No. 9 to pick Hoffman.

“When I first heard that he was going to be looked at and then needing the surgery, I thought that would create a drop in his stock,” said Shaker baseball coach Steve Frank, who coached Hoffman. “To be a No. 9 pick after having the surgery says a lot about what they think of his talent.”

Hoffman posted a 12-12 record with a 3.27 earned run average in his 44 career pitching appearances with East Carolina. He struck out 211 batters and walked only 80, and he had two shutouts. Hoffman was working on a 3-3 record with a 2.94 ERA and 72 strikeouts when he was sidelined with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow.

Hoffman didn’t return a request to be interviewed, but Frank said the former Blue Bison was happy to be a top 10 draft pick.

“I was at his house that evening (June 5),” said Frank. “To see his face and his reaction when his name was called was surreal.”

O’Keefe was pleased with being drafted by St. Louis in the seventh round.

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