After early struggles, Texas State’s Theodore Hoffman finds his groove

April 20, 2017 GMT

T?heodore Hoffman’s come a long way, baby.

The Brenham product barely slapped a single as a freshman at Texas State. Now he’s leading his team in almost every offensive category.

The junior is among the NCAA leaders in batting average (.380) and home runs (12).

“I’ve put in a lot of work, so it’s nice to finally reap some of the benefits that it gives,” Hoffman said.

Early struggles

The 6-foot, 200-pound right fielder chose Texas State over interest from Rice, Texas Tech and Kansas State.

He liked the atmosphere - and his mom liked its proximity to Brenham.

Bobcats coach Ty Harrington said landing the hard-hitting outfielder was a big win for the program.

“It was unbelievable for us, and he felt comfortable that he would try to get to play early, and he liked the relationship with our staff, and so it was an unbelievable moment for us, because on top of being … an unbelievable young man and a great baseball player, he’s an incredible academic student,” Harrington said.

But the early returns weren’t so incredible.

Hoffman struggled offensively the first year, finishing with a .165 batting average, then he injured his arm, forcing him to miss summer ball and furthering delaying his development as a college hitter.

He ended up with a .244 average last year.

“He’s battled through tough luck with injuries, that are unpreventable, and now we’re getting to see the results of a young man who has battled, rehabbed, and done all the things it takes to get to this moment,” Harrington said.

Offensive dynamo

Now he’s a part of every moment.

Hoffman has started and played in all 38 games this season.

He was hitting .388 going into their game with Texas on Tuesday in Austin, which had him in the NCAA top 50.

His 12 home runs are six off the NCAA lead.

Hoffman also paces the Bobcats (22-16, 9-6) in runs scored (41), hits (62), doubles (13) and RBIs (38).

He credits his teammates and coaches for supporting him and helping him grow.

“I’m seeing the ball well,” Hoffman said.

“And our hitting coach, Coach (Steven) Trout, helped me develop a leg kick, and it’s helped me with my weight and balance.”

Harrington said Hoffman’s resurgence - he was ultra-productive at Brenham - stems from discipline and maturity. He compared Hoffman’s progression to that of former Bobcats player Paul Goldschmidt, from The Woodlands, who’s now a four-time MLB All-Star with the Diamondbacks.

“He is a really strong, physical young man,” Harrington said. “And now he’s grown emotionally and understands the game better, understands himself better. He understands how to work, he’s a man of routine, he doesn’t venture out of his routine much, and when you get players who get locked into great routines, and they stay with them Monday through Sunday, then you have a different kid … who’s starting to understand what it takes to be successful at this level.”

Pro potential

He’s also thinking about the next level.

His size, tools and exponential growth are sure to pique someone’s interest in the MLB draft this June.

Hoffman’s dreamed of playing professionally since he was little.

“That’d be a really great honor, but I try not to get caught up in it, especially since the season’s still going,” Hoffman said.

He hoped to get a win for his coach Tuesday.

Harrington, who played for the Longhorns, was suspended for the game after drawing his third ejection last week.

But five Longhorns pitchers combined to blank the Bobcats 2-0 in their rubber match.

″(Harrington) wasn’t here because he was fighting for us, so we wanted to fight for him, it just didn’t go our way (Tuesday),” Hoffman said.

Now he’s turning his attention toward a strong - and individually productive - finish in Sun Belt play.

“I try to stay humble, but also I try to stay hungry, too,” Hoffman said.

“I don’t want to be satisfied with what I already have, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get cocky.

“I want to live each game at-bat to at-bat, and try not to give any away.”