Tampa Bay area locals join MLB organizations; Rays quiet as signing period opens

USF’s Graham Hoffman and Tampa’s Jacinto Arredondo go to the Red Sox. FSU’s Antonio Velez of Brandon joins the Marlins.
USF pitcher Graham Hoffman signed with the Boston Red Sox as an undrafted free agent.
USF pitcher Graham Hoffman signed with the Boston Red Sox as an undrafted free agent. [ USF Athletics ]
Published June 15, 2020|Updated June 15, 2020

Three pitchers with Tampa Bay area ties were among those joining major-league organizations on Sunday’s opening day of the signing period for undrafted free agents.

Two went to the Red Sox: USF righty Graham Hoffman, a Tampa native who played for Calvary Christian, and University of Tampa closer Jacinto Arredondo, who attended Bushnell South Sumter High.

Florida State lefty Antonio Velez, a product of Brandon High and Hillsborough Community College, signed with the Marlins.

Hoffman missed most of the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he made the most of his appearances this season before games were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, he pitched 20⅓ innings over parts of three seasons for the Bulls, striking out 26.

"It’s honestly a dream come true,'' Hoffman said in a release from USF. "I have worked all my life for this moment. Thank you to Coach (Billy) Mohl and the USF family for always supporting me in my college career. They pushed me every day to be a better person and a better player. Go Bulls, and go Red Sox.”

USF teammate Carson Ragsdale was taken by the Phillies in the fourth round of the draft.

Arredondo was 2-2 with four saves in nine games for the Division II Spartans, striking out 38 in 29⅓ innings.

Velez was 1-0, 0.52 in six games this season for the Seminoles with 21 strikeouts in 17⅓ innings.

FSU teammate CJ Van Eyk was a second-round pick in the draft by the Blue Jays.

Among other state college players, Stetson right-hander Robbie Peto signed with the Dodgers.

The Rays did a lot of talking in actively pursuing what was described as “a small group of targets” but did not have any deals to report.

With only 160 players chosen as the major-league draft was reduced to five rounds, there is open competition between teams to sign undrafted players with a strict $20,000 bonus limit.