Former Hops are sprouting up everywhere. Recently, the Hillsboro Hops lost three players because of promotion to the Kane County Cougars. Every year, every month or almost every week, a farm member will move up or down the farm system. As a result, some will come to or leave the Hillsboro Hops. Most will have had a history with the NW League farm team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Therefore, that list grows and grows making it extremely difficult to keep track of favorite players as they work their way up to the top of the mountain.
I even hinted at it when I discussed Former Hops in the major leagues. While we have had eight success stories so far, that number will continue to grow each year. This year, Daniel Palka (CWS) and Brad Keller (KC) joined the big boys and both have cemented their positions strong enough that they seem there to stay. This is before the September call-ups when MLB rosters expand.
It would take one of these articles every week just to keep up with all of the former Hops moving up and down. That would be without any former Hops now in different farm systems. However, I am attempting a spot check on those still within the Diamondbacks organization. We can look at the alumni at the midpoint as we are doing today along with an end of the season and/or beginning of the season after training camp. Let me know if you would like to see either or both.
This week, I am looking at the current roster of the AAA club Reno Aces. On to the favored sons of the Hillsboro Hops:
Former Hops @ Reno Aces (AAA)
A part of the Pacific Coast League, long the home of the historic Portland Beavers still remembered by Portland fans. The Aces began play in 2009 while the Beavers were in their next-to-last year of existence. They came from Tuscon where they were known as the Sidewinders and played from 1998-2008. Before that, older fans might remember them as the old Tuscon Toros who played from 1969-1997. Their current roster as of 7/29/2018 includes these former Hops:
Taylor Clarke (SP, Class of 2015):
Clarke wore the uniform of the Hillsboro Hops for almost a year, 6/16/2015- 4/6/2016. Out of the College of Charleston, Arizona subsequently drafted Taylor out of the 2015 draft in the 3rd round. In 13 games and 21 innings as a reliever, Taylor never allowed an earned run. He is now in his second season with the Aces and now has a 9-7 record in 20 starts. Nearly a strike out king, he will get a K for every 1.12 innings pitched. Considered one of the best pitching prospects in the organization, Taylor is projected as a possible number 4 or 5 starter.
Kevin Cron (3B, Class of 2014):
The 14th round draft pick out of the 2014 draft played 31 games for the Hops in 2014. The Texas Christain athlete showed strength with his bat slugging 37 hits in 31 games. Mixed power in doubles (8) and homers (6) but not in speed with zero triples. Patience at the plate needs work as he only has 161 career walks to compare against 508 strike outs. His homers have steadily increased showing potential to be a 30 home runs a season player. Cron is also not adverse to playing the hero under pressure situations. On July 18th of this year, Kevin stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with runners at the corners and two outs. Down by one run, Kevin slammed a double splitting the left and center fielders for the tying and go ahead runs. The Aces won the game 10-9.
Matt Koch (SP/RP, Class of 2017):
Koch has had a taste of the big boys already. In fact, Matt appeared with the Hops after he made his major league debut. In 2017, the young man found himself down the ladder for a rehab assignment where he pitched two games for the Hops before returning up the ladder. While with the Hops, Matt started two games for a 1-1 record. Most recently, he pitched one inning against the Cubs on 7/23. He returned to the Aces when Clay Buchholtz came back to the team from a strained oblique.
Jared Miller (RP, Class of 2014):
Miller played for the Hops in 2014 and 2015. His first year, Jared pitched in eight games with five starts. His ERA (3.58) did not excite much but he became an All-Star the following year. With his ERA down to 1.81, Jared also earned the starting pitcher honors for the Northwest League in 2015. Drafted by Arizona out of Vanderbilt out of the 2014 draft in the 11th round, the former starter is now seen as a high heat reliever, if not closer, in the Diamondbacks future. Jared has hit a slight bump lately allowing nine runs in his last ten innings. (Check out my interview with Jared Miller in 2015.)
Henry Owens (SP, Class of 2018):
Owens played for Hillsboro earlier this month. Henry came down from the Aces on a rehab assignment and pitched 1.2 innings allowing two earned runs and struck out two batters. Henry is continuing his rehab with the AZL D-backs. He remains on the 7-day disabled list. The Diamondbacks claimed Henry off of waivers on 12/8/2017 and then released him on 12/22/2017. The Dodgers claimed him on the same day and released Henry on 5/18/2018. The Diamondbacks signed him as a free agent six days later where he remains a part of the farm.
Jimmie Sherfy ((RP, Class of 2013):
Sherfy is the only former Hop to have been on a playoff roster in the major leagues. He appeared with the Diamondbacks in the 2017 playoffs against the Los Angeles Dodgers and was an AAA All-Star last year. However, Jimmie’s playoff experience was a rough one. Sherfy allowed four runs in two innings. So far this year, Jimmie has been called up three times for short stays. If the Diamondbacks make the playoffs again this year, Jimmie is a strong candidate to be named to the playoff roster. Arizona drafted Sherfy in the tenth round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Oregon.
Braden Shipley (SP, Class of 2013):
The Diamondbacks drafted Shipley in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Nevada-Reno. After making his pro debut with the Hops, Braden started eight games but only lasted 19 innings total. Shipley endured a rough start to his professional career but persevered to a major league debut in 2016. Ironically, former Hops teammate Jimmie Sherfy made his first major league appearance relieving his old friend from the Hops. Braden made his latest MLB appearance on June 25th.
Alex Young (SP, Class of 2015):
Drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, Alex Young pitched in six games (one start) for the Hops and maintained a 1.50 ERA. Two weeks ago, Alex started an Aces game against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Alex lasted 6.2 innings allowing only one run in his fourth win for the Aces. In a small world situation, Braden Shipley relieved him on the mound. The win swept the series from El Paso and also extended the Aces winning streak to a season high six games.
Things could change in a week so I will update my next column but will focus on the next farm level: The Jackson Generals (AA). Look for it next Sunday.
You can checkout the current Reno Aces team at their official home site.