Falling behind costs Hoffman in rough start

Acquired in Tulo deal, Rockies' No. 5 prospect could make debut this season

Falling behind costs Hoffman in rough start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies called up young pitcher Jeff Hoffman from Minor League camp for a start Thursday partly because they wanted to see him challenged against a big league "A" team.

The Angels happily fulfilled their end of the deal.

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In a 4-4 tie, Hoffman was charged with four runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings against the aggressive Angels before he was replaced by Simon Castro. Hoffman walked two and struck out one in the 61-pitch outing. He threw 30 strikes.

"I think for the most part that I didn't get ahead and that contributed to a lot of the problems today," said the 23-year-old Hoffman, ranked as the Rockies' No. 5 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. "Usually, I'm pretty good with batters and staying ahead, but today it just wasn't there. It was a constant fight. Their guys took good swings. They flared a few out there and hit a few hard and knocked me around pretty good."

It was an inauspicious start for Hoffman. He gave up four consecutive hits, including a two-run double by Johnny Giavotella, to start the game to put his team in an early 2-0 hole. He rebounded to retire the first two hitters in the second, but the next batter, catcher Jeff Bandy, followed with a double.

After a walk to Andrelton Simmons, Bandy raced home on a single by Cliff Pennington to extend the lead to 3-0. Left fielder Ji-Man Choi hit a one-out single in the third and eventually scored the Angels' fourth run on a double by Jefry Marte to end Hoffman's afternoon.

Hoffman fans Marte

"I don't think I was too amped up or anything like that," Hoffman said. "If anything, I was maybe too calm and I should have let my adrenaline go a little bit. I like to feed off that positive energy."

Hoffman, who was picked ninth overall in the 2014 Draft, was acquired by Colorado from Toronto in the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays. He was reassigned to Minor League camp last week, but the Rockies, who are working to determine where he fits into the organization's plans, wanted another look at him against top competition.

"You have thoughts of how it might go, but nothing goes according to plan in this game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The thought right now is to get him ready for a season and we are excited about what we are seeing. Maybe at some point, he can help us this year. He's a pretty impressive kid, him and a few others."

It's already been quite a road for the young pitcher.

Hoffman struck out two in two scoreless innings against the Reds on March 6. He missed the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery and spent most of last season with Toronto's Class A and Double-A teams, and at Double-A New Britain for the Rockies. Hoffman combined to go 5-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 20 starts in 2015. He also struck out 75 and walked 27 in 104 innings.

"The big part of playing baseball professionally is trusting the process and that's what I do," Hoffman said. "When I got sent down, I knew it's to build my pitch count up because I have to get ready for my season, just like anybody up here does. I got back to work and I was fortunate enough to get the callup here to play. I just didn't get the job done."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.