Some news and notes from around the NL West…
- The Rockies optioned Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A today, with manager Bud Black telling reporters (including Nick Groke of the Denver Post) that Hoffman required “a little more refinement” and consistency. “The fastball has velocity, but he has to locate the fastball,” Black said. “The slider and curveball are very good pitches. They are major league quality. But he has to consistently get them into good spots. The overall command of his pitches is something he needs to harness.” Hoffman, one of the game’s top pitching prospects, posted a 4.88 ERA over his first 31 1/3 innings in the majors last season. With Hoffman at Triple-A, rookies German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, and Antonio Senzatela are all competing for the last two spots in Colorado’s injury-thinned rotation.
- The Rockies are one of the teams interested in catcher Derek Norris, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Colorado joins the Cardinals and Rays as teams known to have interest in the free agent catcher. With Tom Murphy on the DL with a fractured forearm, the Rockies are a logical candidate to be exploring upgrades behind the plate.
- J.J. Hoover is looking like a good bet to break camp with the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. Hoover signed a minor league deal with the D’Backs in January that will pay him a $900K base salary if he cracks the big league roster, which seems like a distinct possibility given the righty’s solid spring numbers and Arizona’s wide-open bullpen competition. Hoover posted solid numbers out of Cincinnati’s bullpen from 2012-15 before taking over as the Reds closer and suffering a disastrous 2016 season.
- The top 50 international bonuses of 2016 are compiled by Baseball America’s Ben Badler, with the Padres’ $11MM bonus to Cuban lefty Adrian Morejon leading the way. San Diego owns five of the top 12 entries and a league-leading 11 of the top 50 overall, which isn’t a surprise given the Padres’ tactic of blowing past their bonus pool limit to hoard as much young international talent as possible during this signing period. As a result, the Padres will be limited to signings worth no more than $300K during the next two international signing periods.