Week 2: Hillsboro Hops 2021 Season – Hope & Perks
Week 2 saw a little bit of a perk in the win column but more impactive was the news that center fielder Corbin Carroll would be lost for the season because of season ending surgery, according to MLB Pipeline’s William Boor. (Warning, replies contain swearing)
However, as of Sunday, the Diamondbacks have yet to confirm this information. Plus, The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan twittered that the home run on Monday “probably” was when the injury happened. Add to that last week’s transactions and rearranging in the outfield, we will cover all that is happening to the Hops.
Week 2: Injury Report
Carroll started off with the hottest start of the team. As of his last game played, last Monday’s double header with Eugene, Carroll was batting .435 with a On Base Percentage (OBP) .552, a slugging percentage of .913 and a mind boggling On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) of 1.465. He amassed in only 23 plate appearances a total of ten hits (five for extra bases) and nine runs.
It was (and still is) a question of when and not if Carroll will make the major leagues. The good news is everyone that is talking is saying Carroll is young enough to recover from this surgery and have a nice, long career.
Hillsboro had much to celebrate while sweeping the (at the time) league leading Eugene Emeralds in a double header last Monday. Included in all of the fun was a solo blast to right to add an insurance run to the scoreboard. Little did we know at the time that would be Carroll’s last swing in a game for a while.
Carroll was sent down to Arizona to have specialists evaluate the injury. The prognosis was to have the season ending surgery that everyone is now talking about. There is no word on whether this is related to the left shoulder injury Carroll suffered on August 17th, 2019 when he first came to the Hops. According to the Seattle Times: “The injury, which the team said isn’t believed to be serious, led to his return to Arizona on Sunday night.”, said Maggie Vanoni of the Seattle Times.
(Keep in mind that this is referring to the 2019 injury and not the present one.)
Baseball-Reference.com states that after the game against the Tri City Dust Devils on the 17th and subsequent trip to Arizona for injury assessment, Carroll did not reappear until September 1st and the last two games of the season. That injury kept him out of the game for two weeks. In 2021, Carroll will miss at least four months.
For the time being, the new outfield appears to be Tra Holmes in center with Leodany Perez in left and Cam Coursey in right
Overshadowed by the injury to Corbin, Dom also received an injury. For now, Dom is on the 7-day injured list and went down to Arizona the same time as Corbin Carroll. Both players are to be evaluated.
Others on the Injury List
Injured 7-day list: RHP Shumpei Yoshikawa, LHP Bryan Valdez.
Injured 60-day list: RHP Matt Mercer.
Restricted list: OF Colin Bray.
Week Two: Middle of the Road Dark Spots
The Hops started out this week with a 2-4 record and three games back of the leader to start the season. Against Eugene, the two teams split their six game series 3-3, leaving the Hops at 5-7 and still three games behind the leader. But, are we gaining or slowly slip-slidin’ away?
The stats will tell us the obvious. You need runs to win a game and the Hops are last in the six-team league scoring on average 3.75 runs per game. The Everett Aquasox, who lead the league with a 10-2 record, lead the league in runs scored averaging 7.83 runs per game. More than twice as much as the Hops.
There are many factors that go into scoring runs. Hits aren’t the main reason though the Hops aren’t in the top half either. Power is not a strength, either. The Hops are next to the bottom in every extra base hit category. No surprise that slugging percentage does as well.
However, walks are another way to reach base and the Hops lie in the cellar with only 29 walks as a team so far. Everett leads with 74. Hops batters also strike out more than any other team except one. And that is only a difference of three. That averages over twelve batters every game.
Second from bottom in RBIs is another sign that base runners are not getting home. Of the 112 base runners the Hops have had, only 45 have scored.
The good news is the Hops still lead the league in steals. But, their lead is starting to slip. The first week, the Hops stole 22 bases and along the way tied an all-time record for most steals in one game (11). This week, they stole ten. Total. First week, they were only caught stealing once. This week, they have been caught three times.
Week 2 Bright Spots
There is hope if you can look past the obvious results. The Hops lie in fourth place in the league. Their opponents these last two weeks are the teams that reside in first and second. The Everett Aquasox at 10-2 have only two losses so far. Guess who gave them to the Aquasox? The Hops are the only team to beat them and they have done it twice.
The Eugene Emeralds are not far behind with a 8-4 record. The Hops gave them three of those losses. So, of the six losses of the top two teams in the league, they received four of them at the hands of the Hops.
It reminds me of the old saying, “You should see the other guy.” While the Hops went toe to toe with Eugene, 3-3, the Emeralds went 5-1 against the Spokane Indians the other week they played. Everett gained a narrow margin against the Hops, 4-2, but against the Tri City Dust Devils their other week? The Aquasox went 6-0.
To sum up, while both of the top teams were going 7-5 against the Hops, they also went 11-1 against the “other guy”. Not coincidentally, the “other guy” are the two teams below the Hops in the bottom of the standings.
Week 2 Prospects for the Season
Right now, the prospects don’t look as well as I am sure the fans would hope. They are one game below a .500 record. They just lost their best player for the season and another consistent contributor for a short time. The best they can claim so far is the best of the worst. In order to climb out of the little pond and join the big pond above them, the Hops need to string hits together. Learn to walk more. Strike out less. Regain confidence in their ability to steal.
Just because they have lost Corbin for the season, it doesn’t mean the Hops don’t have anyone to step up. The Hops have the men to get going in that direction. Both Axel Andueza and Cam Coursey are batting between .350 and .400 for the first two weeks. Blaze Alexander and Spencer Brickhouse are showing clutch swinging and getting men across the plate. Buddy Kennedy has impressed but not with his numbers though they are steady. What impressed me is what he does with those hits. No one gets more out of one hit than Buddy except Corbin Carroll.
Week 2 Transactions
Luis Frias promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles. We knew this was coming. Frias is one of the top ten prospects in the Diamondback organization. You won’t forget this name or the young man who dazzled from the mound in Hillsboro. The Hops have seen a lot of young talent come through the mound on the way to a big league appearance. Luis will join that group easily.
Denson Hull’s visit to Hillsboro was a short one. He arrived the day before the season started and left nine days later. While he was here, Hull appeared in two games in short relief. In what may have been a crowded bullpen, Hull will now find more opportunities with the Visalia Rawhide.
DJ Burt came to the team the same day as Denson Hull left. Coming down from the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the young free agent infielder had been signed on the second day of the season. Kansas City drafted Burt out of high school in 2014 in the fourth round. Six years later, Burt elected free agency during the pandemic. It took seven months but the Diamondbacks signed Burt as a free agent on May 5th.
Julio Frias came over from the Miami Marlins organization as “the player to be named later”. In the trade that brought LHP Caleb Smith and RHP Humberto Mejia over for OF Starling Marte, LHP Frias joined the Diamondbacks on September 19, 2020. Julio was previously assigned to the AAA Reno Aces.
Dominic Canzone placed on the 7-day injured list. He joined Carrol down in Arizona for evaluation.
Corbin Carroll placed on the 7-day injured list with a shoulder injury. He joined teammate Dominic Canzone in Arizona for evaluation.
DJ Burt assigned to the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Burt’s stay was only five days. He played in three games, scoring one run and earning an RBI. Burt returned to the Sod Poodles from whence he came.
That wraps up this week’s look. Tuesday, the Hops return home to host the Vancouver Canadians and start their third week of the 2021 season. Game time is 6:35 PM. You can catch it on MiLB.tv.com or listen to it on 620 AM. Otherwise, follow me on Twitter for half inning updates throughout the game.
Tomorrow, I return to game recaps for the Vancouver series. Until then, check out my thoughts on the first week of the season in Mixed Bag.