Week 12 : Hillsboro Hops Power Up
Week 12 started out the same way it ended: with the Hops eight games below .500. When I talked earlier this week about how closely matched these two teams were, I did not expect it to continue through all six games of the series. Each game was decided by only one run. The number of runs totaled by both teams over that three week span are 76 runs each.
Note: Three of the four six-game series resulted in a 3-3 split. The fourth one turned out to be a six-game sweep so for the purpose of this column, let’s call the sweep an outlier and ignore it.
To call these two teams too close to call is an understatement. That is in evidence as to their position in the league. With Eugene in the upper half, five and a half games behind leader Everett, the Hops find themselves in the lower half only three and a half games above sixth place Tri City.
Why is that evidence? Because you would think that two teams that are polar opposite in direction would result in a sweep or something. (Remember: we are ignoring the real sweep) Instead, these two teams play each other tighter than anyone else in the league. When it comes to games decided by just one run (like this series) Eugene is at the top with a 9-1 record at the beginning of this week. The Hops were at the bottom with a 3-12 record.
Easy pickings for Eugene, right? If you asked Eugene before this week, they would have reminded you of the first and third times these two teams met. This time around it was more of the same. Split the series. Tied in runs scored. No one can be called the winner.
Week 12 – Performance on the Upswing
When I crunched the numbers for week#12, I saw a pleasant surprise. Up until this time, team batting averages hovered between .210 and .225 with minor ups and downs from week to week. This week, the team batting average was .250. Usually, the top individual hovered around .250 but here it was the entire team batting that high.
It is reflected in the individual averages as well. Newcomer Roman Ruiz more than lit up the leaderboard, he launched to the top batting .500 and going 8 for 16 at the plate. Not far behind, Cam Coursey batted .416 and fell to the second highest slot. Two players came next, Jorge Barrosa and Eduardo Diaz tied for third at .350 and 7 for 20. One last player notched above .300 and that was Dom Canzone who hit .304 on 7 for 23. Throw 15 doubles (led by Barrosa with four) and you had power too.
Lots of Doubles – No Triples
However, for the first time since week#7, no one hit a triple for the week. The home runs were a smattering of four across the week. Canzone led the team with only two home runs. So the long ball was missing but the singles and doubles powered the Hops to their best power rating in recent memory. Total bases were higher than before with several players in double digits. Barrosa and Diaz led with 14 total bases each. Close behind, Canzone notched 13 total bases himself.
As to team totals, almost everything was as high as the stock market with a dozen bulls snorting and rushing the doors to open. Most notably, ABs raised to 212 and 53 hits kept the Hops busy running around the bases. Total bases equaled 89 and a third of them were doubles.
Now, let’s look at the games for the week:
Week 12 : Game#1 Hops win 3-2
The Hops got the Ems from both sides but it was a close one. Pitcher Blake Walston pitched another great game for the Hops starters lasting 98 pitches and eight innings. Part of his control came with eleven strikeouts The other half came from the four doubles and one Dom Canzone homer. The three-run fifth inning would be enough to withstand the two Eugene runs late in the game. But, without a highlight play of Eduardo Diaz throwing Sean Roby out from the outfield to end the game, it would have been extra innings instead of a tight victory.
Week 12 : Game#2 Hops lose 4-5
Game featured the return of Brandon Pfaadt after his complete game shutout from last week. This time didn’t go so hot. Brandon threw the same amount of pitches as last week but only lasted six innings this time as compared to nine innings last time. He also gave up all five runs to the Ems for the loss.
Game started with both teams using small-ball to create three runs each. After that, it was all solo homers. The Hops lost because they could only come up with one (Dom Canzone) where the Ems furnished two (Ricardo Genoves and Brett Auerbach).
Week 12 : Game#3 Hops lose 4-3
Another tight game, this time lasting to the bottom of the 10th inning. For the most part, the game featured quality starts by starters Slade Cecconi and Nick Avila. Entering the last scheduled inning of the game, both teams had a comparative explosion of two runs each to send it into extra innings.
This is where eyebrows get raised. As long time fans know, extra innings start off an extra base runner on second base. That is where Robert Emery started and scored from on a sacrifice bunt to lead off the inning. The throw to first sailed by and Emery saw his chance and scored.
Week 12 : Game#4 Hops win 10-9
A mountain of a game. The Ems take hold and build an 8-3 lead in the first half of the game. The Hops stormed back in the seventh with seven runs in the seventh, sending ten men to the plate. The first nine reach base and seven of them scored. The Ems made it interesting with a solo shot in the ninth to cut the lead to one. Hops hold on for the win and tie the series, 2-2.
Week 12 : Game#5 Hops win 3-2
Finally, Drew Jameson got his win. Deserving before this, Drew had the misfortune of unlucky bounces deny him until now. But, among his travails, Drew maintained a sharp ability to strike out the batter. On this night, Drew struck out almost half of the batters he faced (11/24).
The Hops managed to squeeze out three runs from some tough pitching by the Eugene Emeralds. As it turned out, Cam Coursey’s double, Tristin English’s single and an errant throw by Ems shortstop Nolan Dempsey were enough to win the game.
Week 12 : Game#6 Hops lose 5-6
The final game of the series started with an exclamation point. The Hops exploded with Blaze Alexander’s lead off homer and Jorge Barrosa’s three-run homer in the second inning. Another run added in the fifth. While the Hops knew how to start the game, they didn’t show they knew how to finish it.
Instead, the Eugene Emeralds showed them how it was done. Trimming the lead in one and two run increments, the Ems closed to within one run by the time they reached the bottom of the ninth. Third batter in, Sean Roby bounced a ground rule double over the fence with two men on. One swing and the tying and winning runs crossed the plate in a walk-off. Ems won the game 6-5 and evened the series at 3-3.
Week 12 Pitching
The pitching had to fight through every game as each one was decided by just one run. The Hops had three winning pitchers this week: Blake Walston (1-1), Kai-Wei Lin (1-0) and Drey Jameson (1-4). There were three saves by two pitchers: Yaramil Hiraldo (2) and Justin Lewis (1).
No one came close to throwing as many strikes as Blake Walston (20) this week. Of course, Blake also got the chance to start two games this road trip and the next on this list would have given him some competition. The next closest were Brandon Pfaadt (11) and Drey Jameson (11). Right behind was Slade Cecconi (10).
Another important way to look at strikeouts is the K/IP ratio. How many strikeouts per inning does the pitcher average. Of course, relievers and closers usually come out the highest since they have less innings to pitch. One such pitcher had a perfect inning of striking out the side for his appearance: Mailon Arroyo (3.00/one IP). Two other pitchers also qualified for the perfect 3.00 ratio but with fewer batters faced: Bobby Ay (2 batters) and Denson Hull (one batter).
For the starting pitchers, it is much harder to maintain that high of a ratio but the good ones are just under 2.00. The best for this week are:
Ratio Innings Pitcher
1.83 6 Brandon Pfaadt
1.83 6 Drey Jameson
1.53 13 Blake Walston
1.42 7 Slade Cecconi
1.00 3 Justin Vernia
ERA For Week 12
ERA is a similar statistic. It can be higher for relievers and closers but lower for starters who have more innings to cover. This week, there were six different pitchers who did not allow an earned run this week: Justin Lewis, Nick Snyder, Kai-Wei Lin, Ty Jones, Kyler Stout and Denson Hull.
Starting pitchers rarely pitch shutouts so their ERAs are mostly above zero:
ERA Starting Pitcher
0.66 Drey Jameson
0.77 Slade Cecconi
2.07 Blake Walston (2 games)
4.50 Brandon Pfaadt
15.00 Justin Vernia
Week 12 : The Season So Far…
The extra offense helped some of the batters make a big jump but there were only three changes in the leader departments. These names are becoming familiar week after week:
…is still the king of the leader board. He maintained the top notch in five different categories and lost the lead in one: games (49), at bats (189), runs (29), walks (27) and doubles (10). Blaze lost the lead in hits (40) by one hit.
…is second in the number of categories, leading in five after taking the lead in three more. Dom was already leading in batting average (.263) and triples (3-tie). But, he now also leads in hits (41), RBIs (22-tied) and total bases (70).
…maintained the lead in the two categories he tops. Andy still leads in RBIs (22-tie) and home runs (7). With his bat waking up a little, he may add some more categories before the season is over.
…maintained his co-lead in RBIs (22-tie) as did…
…in triples (3-tie).
Ty Jones and Justin Lewis
…co-lead on the mound with a 2.25 ERA.
…is second in the league at a 4.08 ERA.
…is the highest active pitcher on the Hops with three wins. He places 16th in the league standings.
…places Top of the Hops with 71 strikeouts. That is good enough for fifth in the league.
Week 12 Transactions 7/20-7/25
This week saw some excitement with a major league starter rehabbing with the Hops but it also contained a little sadness as we had to say good-bye to two favorites. But we can still root for them at the AA Amarillo Sod Poodles. Also this week, a regular starter goes to the injured list and we welcome two new Hops to the fold.
7/20 Spencer Brickhouse put on 7-day injured list
Spencer came to the Hops at the beginning of the season and has remained a fixture ever since. During that time, Spencer has been at the top or close in several categories including most games played (44) and total bases (64). At 6’4” and 235 lbs, Spencer was built for the power hit. Struggling a little at the beginning of the season in his power, his bat had finally started to wake up. He had hit five home runs (and one double) in the last three weeks alone. Here’s hoping that his stay on the injured list is a short one.
7/25 Carson Kelly assigned to the Hillsboro Hops for a two game rehab stint.
This week, Tuesday and Wednesday, Diamondback catcher Carson Kelly will wear a Hops uniform while on a two-day rehab assignment. Many fans will remember Kelly from his high school days playing for Westview High School in the Beaverton School district.
The local catcher was drafted (2012, round 2, 86th overall) out of high school by the St. Louis Cardinals. Kelly was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in December of 2018 along with Luke Weaver and Andy Young for Paul Goldschmidt.
Carson originally fractured his wrist on June 19th of last month. Kelly was placed on the injured list the next day. He has since started his rehab in the “Arizona Coast (Complex-ed.) League” according to CBSsports.com. In his first and only appearance so far, Carson batted “0-2 with two strikeouts and a walk”.
The injury occured when struck by a fastball from Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler. Former Hops Daulton Varsho, who played for Hillsboro in 2017, was called up from AAA Reno to the major league club and took Kelly’s spot on the roster until Kelly comes back. However, Kelly’s spot in the starting lineup will be taken by back-up catcher Stephen Vogt.
Carson Kelly reported to Hillsboro on Sunday and made his debut with the Hops on the road in Eugene. Kelly is slated to play in the games for Tuesday (27th) and Wednesday (28th).
Tickets for the games featuring Carson Kelly are on sale at www.hillsborohops.com or at the ticket booth.
7/26 RHP Tyler Jones promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles.
Jones was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks from Miami on June 3rd of this year and immediately assigned to the Hillsboro Hops. While here, he pitched in eight games, all in relief, and amassed a 2-0 record. In twelve innings, he struck out 14 batters with an ERA of 2.25.
Originally drafted in 2018 out of Wichita State by the Miami Marlins.
7/26 LHP Liu Fuenmayor promoted to the Hops from the Visalia Rawhide.
Liu originally played for the Hops in 2019 where he established a 1-0 record in five games (all in relief). He struck out seven batters in seven and a third innings with an ERA of 1.23. Started out 2021 in Visalia where he established an 0-2 record in 24 games. Liu averaged just over one inning per appearance. His ERA was 4.81 and he struck out 26.
7/26 LF Dom Canzone promoted to Amarillo Sod Poodles
Dom earned his promotion both at the plate and in the field. Just this week, Dom overtook several categories for the Hops including batting average (.263-active), hits (41), RBIs (22-tie) and total bases (70). It was only a matter of time that he would catch up since he missed time earlier this season with a minor injury.
His promotion was also only a matter of time. Drafted in 2019, round eight, 242nd overall out of Ohio State. He first came to the Hops in 2019. Missing 2020 like the rest of the minor leagues, Dom was promoted to… the Hillsboro Hops who had also been promoted to High A West level.
Dominic Gene Canzone seems to be on the fast track.
7/26 LF Danny Oriente promoted to Hillsboro Hops from the Visalia Rawhide
Danny was in the middle of his senior season at the University of Louisville when the Pandemic hit. He was able to start 17 games for the Cardinals. Signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks in July of the same year.
Started 2021 in Visalia where he played in 44 games, batted .231, hit one home run and batted 14 RBIs.
Looking Ahead to Week 13
Starting Tuesday, the Hops will host the Tri City Dust Devils. While the Hops are getting some success at climbing the league ladder, they have to watch out for the Dust Devils who are right behind them. Only three and a half games separate the two. Easily a small enough leap for the Dust Devils to leapfrog over the Hops if they can get on a winning streak.
On the other hand, the Hops only trail two teams, the Spokane Indians and the Vancouver Canadians, by one game. Easily a Hops’ skip and a jump past them into third place. So, while the Hops start the week in fifth place, their floor and ceiling at the end of the week varies between third and sixth.
We also should see the Diamondbacks starting catcher for two more games on his rehab assignment this Tuesday and Wednesday. And we get to see how the new guys play.
This week’s home games will be on MiLB.tv. You can also listen to the game on 620 AM radio. Or, you can follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. Just like every home game this season. You can find my Twitter handle below.