Week 8: Looking Back – Hillsboro Hops Split Week with Spokane
Week 8, the Hops left the losing streak behind. Instead, the Hops pulled a split with the Spokane Indians. After an 0-6 week prior, the normal reaction is relief. But, this time there may be a little disbelief. The Hops lost the first game of the series extending the losing streak to seven games. But, then they won the next three games to go on a winning streak and lead 3-1. With two games left to win one, things looked positive. Instead, the Hops lost the last two games and settled for the split when they had the series win within their grasp.
So, this is more of a glass half full/ half empty type of thing. Which one do you see?
Here are some news clips from the past week along with the usual looks. Enjoy.
Week 8: Big News: Ron Tonkin Field Goes Full Capacity
On Friday, Governor Brown removed all Covid-19 restrictions, effective June 30th. That means that the Hops will return to full capacity on July 1st, this coming Thursday.
“Today’s announcement is a culmination of 15 months of uncertainty, anxiety, sadness, hope and now triumph,” said Hillsboro Hops President KL Wombacher. “While it’s been incredible to have fans back at Ron Tonkin Field, seeing this place sold out again on July 4th will be an incredible feeling for all of us. Huge thank you to our staff, fans, and community for their sacrifices to get us here. We’re back.”
You can get tickets at www.hillsborohops.com
Week 8 Game summaries
note: click on the game # for a full recap of the game; click on the score for the box score.
A repeat from the previous week. Step#1: Hops take the lead. Step#2: Hops lose the lead shortly after. Step#3: Hops lose the game. The Hops’ bats go 5 for 31 for a .161 batting average. Pitcher Conor Grammes pitched four scoreless innings on two hits for a good show. But, reliever Justin Vernia allowed six runs in 1.1 innings for the loss. Indians up 1-0.
The losing streak is over. After a week of being swept by the Eugene Emeralds and the first game against the Spokane Indians, it was time to end. The Hops did it with solid fundamentals, run-saving fielding with the glove and aggressive bats at the plate. The attending fans could taste the victory but remained cautious until the final out. Ryne Nelson with the win.
The Hops make it two wins in a row with recently promoted Brandon Pfaadt starting on the mound. Brandon set a high for the season by lasting 98 pitches before retiring after the sixth inning. Nick Dalesandro and Jorge Barrosa both hit triples. Every time the Spokane Indians climbed within a run of the Hops, Hillsboro stretched their lead by scoring another run. Closer Joe Jones saved the win with his league leading sixth save.
Cam Coursey batted in every run in the game with just one swing. A two-run RBI single brought home Nick Dalesandro and Reece Hampton. Other than that, the game belonged to both pitchers.
Slade Cecconi made his best start of the year throwing 91 pitches over six innings. After Cecconi retired from the mound, Denson Hull and Julio Frias combined for three innings of scoreless, no-hit relief. The win made it a three game winning streak. This, after the Hops seven game losing streak of the week before.
The return of the Big Inning is proving to be a bit of a horror film plot for the Hops. The seven game losing streak from the past reared its ugly head much like Godzilla over Tokyo. The Indians scored five runs in the fourth to create an insurmountable lead. The winning streak is over. The Hops lost 3-9.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the series, the Hops had two chances to win their first six-game series of the season. This time, instead of the big inning, the Hops faced home run after home run after home run after home run. The effort was there but the results were not. Hops lose 5-7.
Series 6/22-6/27 Spokane Indians/ Hillsboro Hops split 3-3.
Week 8 Performances
This past week has been one of change more so than most. Ricky Martinez is hurt but will be back soon. Same with Drey Jameson. Bryan Valdez switched injured lists. We’ve lost Joe Jones, Ryne Nelson, Blake Workman, Buddy Kennedy and Bryce Jarvis to promotions. Justin Lewis came down from the Amarillo Sod Poodles. We’ve gained some new faces in Brandon Pfaadt, Denson Hull, Roman Ruiz and Jorge Barrosa. Some of these names you saw for the first time this week. Jorge Barrosa is a familiar name to Hops fans as he was an important part of the 2019 Hops championship team. And Tyler Jones has been activated from the injured list.
Week 8: Blaze Alexander Leads Most Categories
But, for the most part, this weekly look back is about the players who are still here. One area in which the team needs improvement is batting average. Several players continue to raise them with their weekly performances. Cam Coursey went 3 for 6, raising his average over .200 and climbing. Leodany Perez went 3 for 7, climbing to .196. Tra Holmes batted 1 for 3 and newcomer Roman Ruiz also went 1 for 3.
Andy Yerzy added a new role to his repertoire: this week, he was the most active Hops on the base paths, scoring four runs. Another newcomer, Jorge Barrosa debuted with five hits in his first week as a Hop this season. Tristin English smacked five himself. RBIs were more spread out with two team members leading together with three: Blaze Alexander and Reece Hampton.
In the power department: four different Hops had one double but only one Hop doubled twice – again Blaze Alexander. Four different Hops walloped a triple. It is hard to believe that the Hops only had one home run among them. That homer belonged to Reece Hampton. Finally, Jorge Barrosa may be a newcomer to his old team, but he is no newcomer to leading the power department. This is not the first time we find Jorge on top, this time with eight total bases.
The 2021 Season So Far
Looking at the current roster sheet that contains the names of all of the players to wear the Hops uniform so far this year, it is easy to realize one thing. We have lost some good players. Mostly on the mound but the Hops position players have had a few of the top losses so far.
One that hit early and hard was the injury to Corbin Carroll that will keep him out for the rest of the season. Seems like it wasn’t six weeks ago but time has moved on. One thing about baseball, it always fills a vacuum. There was some shuffling that first week as there were a few players that looked like they might grab the opportunity. But, the one name that rose to the top was Buddy Kennedy. Leading the Hops in several of the offensive categories, it was clear as time kept going, that Buddy would move up sooner rather than later. All we could do was enjoy him while he was here. Last week, Buddy Kennedy got the call up to join the Amarillo Sod Poodles.
Who’s Next to Fill Vacuum?
Now, we have another vacuum and we wonder who is going to fill it? There are some early contenders just from the first week. Newcomer Jorge Barrosa is now leading the team in batting average for active players. But, that is easy if you have only been here one week. If Jorge can sustain that average, he could be the next gap-filler.
Just last night, Reece Hampton had one of the best games for a Hop this year when he went 2 for 3 with a double, homer and 3 RBIs. But, that was just one game. Reece didn’t get that much opportunity to play and only played last night to fill in for Nick Dalesandro who was ejected. If he could earn more playing time, he might fill a gap or two.
The one thing that stood out with Carroll and Kennedy was consistency. They both performed at a high and consistent level. Right now, the best Hops player for consistency might be Blaze Alexander. Now that Buddy has moved up, Blaze is now the current team leader or co-leader in eight of the 14 categories for position players at the plate. Next closest is Hampton with only three categories. But, Blaze’s numbers are not as flashy as Carroll’s or Kennedy’s. This far into the season, it is harder to get those numbers higher than it is earlier in the season. His batting average will more than likely need to raise higher than the .273 he currently sports.
Week 8: Blaze Alexander Leads Most Categories
As to the season to date stats, we find Blaze leading in games (31-tie), At Bats (127), runs scored (21), hits (29), doubles (8), triples (2-tie) and total bases (46) among others. Tristin English is leading in RBIs (13). Hampton has it in walks (15), OPS (.792) and triples (2-tie). Andy Yerzy is tops in home runs (6). Note: these are all for active players only. Otherwise Buddy and Corbin would still be on top for a few of these.
For the mound, pitching has taken the biggest hit. Now, more than half of the pitchers now wear the Sod Poodle uniform (6) as do the current Hops uniform (active-10). Gone, and with the best of wishes in their journey, are: Joe Jones, Ryne Nelson, Blake Workman and Bryce Jarvis from this last week alone and Luis Frias and Matt Tabor from earlier in the season.
For current pitchers this week, Ryne Nelson has the best record at 4-1. Ryne continues to shine and is showing great command. The best ERA is also from Nelson at .252. Ryne is also top on the team (and second in the league) for strikeouts with 59. Note: Ryne Nelson was just promoted to the Sod Poodles. I left him on the active roster list for purposes of this section.
Week 8: Transactions 6/14-6/27
6/26 – RHP Joe Jones
Promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles from the Hops. Signed by the Diamondbacks as a free agent earlier this year, Joe started the season out with the Visalia Rawhide before getting promoted to the Hops at the beginning of their season. While with the Hops, Joe displayed a reliable arm from the bullpen and led the league in saves.
6/25 – LHP Blake Walston
Promoted from the Visalia Rawhide to the Hops. Blake wore a Hops uniform during the short season A days of 2019. First round draft pick (26th overall) out of New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Caroline. Has a 3.15 ERA in his second year of his pro career.
6/24 – RHP Ryne Nelson
Promoted from the Hops to AA Amarillo Sod Poodles. His promotion came the day after Ryne led the Hops to their first win in over a week, breaking the seven game losing streak. Since being drafted in the 2019 second round (56th overall) out of the University of Oregon, Ryne has only worn the Hops uniform in his pro career. His ERA is 2.64.
6/22 – RHP Brandon Pfaadt (pronounced “fought”)
Promoted from the Visalia Rawhide to the Hops. Wearing a Hops uniform has already contributed sayings such as “A hard ‘Pfaadt’ win”. Drafted in 2020 in the 5th round (149 overall) out of Bellarmine University in Bellarmine, Kentucky. Having 2020 wiped out as with all minor leaguers last year, Brandon has already started one game for Hillsboro. He went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and getting the (hard “Pfaadt”) win (1-0). Has ERA of 4.50 and has struck out six batters and issued only one walk.
6/22 – LHP Denson Hull
Promoted from the Visalia Rawhide to the Hops. Drafted in 2019, round 28 (842 overall) out of Creighton University out of Omaha, Nebraska. Spent all of 2019 with the former Missoula Osprey. Started 2021 with the Visalia Rawhide. There he went 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Has already appeared in three relief appearances. He has totaled 4 .1 innings so far and allowed four runs on three hits, struck out four and walked three. Denson sits at 0-1 in the young season.
6/22 – SS Roman Ruiz
Promoted from the Visalia Rawhide to Hillsboro. Signed as a free agent by the Diamondbacks in 2017 at the age of 16. He is now 20. From Venezuela, he played in the DSL- and AZL D-backs at the Rookie level in 2018-19. Started 2021 with Visalia. More of a quick singles hitter, he fits in with the Hops who lead all of the Minor Leagues in team steals. He has two home runs, three triples and nine doubles out of his 57 hits.
6/22 – LF Jorge Barrosa
Jorge is a familiar name in Hillsboro Hops lore as he was an integral part of the 2019 championship team. He was promoted from the Visalia Rawhide to the Hops. The last time he was here, the Hops were in the Short Season A league. Now, they are in the High A West. Originally from Venezuela. Has a .280 career average and can sneak a triple out of a double.
6/21 – LHP Bryan Valdez
Hops have moved Bryan from the 7 day injured list to the 60 day injured list. Bryan played for the Hops in 2018. Bryan last played in 2019.
6/21 – IF Ricky Martinez
Ricky has been placed on the 7-day injured list after injuring a finger diving back to first after a pick off move. Drafted in 2019 in the 18th round (542 overall) out of University of Tennessee, Ricky has only worn the Hops uniform. After a drought at the plate, Ricky recently heated back up and his average was accelerating when the injury struck.
6/21 – RHP Tyler Jones
Tyler has been activated from the 7-day injured list. Originally drafted (2018) by Miami in the 26th round (777 overall) out of Wichita State, Tyler was traded to the Diamondbacks earlier this month on the 3rd and immediately assigned to the Hops. He was originally put on the 7-day injured list while with the Beloit Snappers (Miami Marlins farm team) on May 4th of this year.
6/21 – RHP Blake Workman
Promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles. While with the Hops, Blake’s ERA was 3.74 and accomplished a 2-0 record.
6/21 – 3B Buddy Kennedy
Promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles. While here, Buddy filled a vacuum left when top prospect Corbin Carroll was lost for the season, leading the Hops in most offensive categories. In his first few days in Amarillo Buddy has already hit two home runs, the first tying the game up for his new team.
6/21 – RHP Bryce Jarvis
Promoted to the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Bryce made his pro debut with the Hops this season. First round draft pick (18 overall) in 2020 from Duke University.
6/21 – RHP Justin Lewis
Assigned to the Hops from the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Drafted 2018 in the 12th round (369 overall) out of the University of Kentucky. Has a career 4.10 ERA and a 6-6 won/loss record. Originally assigned to the Hops in February of this year, Justin was promoted to the Sod Poodles at the beginning of the season. He has struggled a bit from the start of this season. Hoping to get his handle back in Hillsboro.
6/20 – RHP Drey Jameson
Placed on the 7-day injured list. Drafted in 2019 in the 1C round (34th overall) out of Ball State, Drey has shown a fastball in the upper 90’s. In 43 innings, he has struck out 51 batters and only walked 20. At the beginning of the season, used primarily as a starter but also showed promise at the end of the game.
Week 8: Shut Out Hunger
In hard times, people are in need. As a result, there is a new campaign to help the Sunshine Division feed the people of Hillsboro and Washington County called “Shut Out Hunger”. The Hops are joining MTI in raising food to donate to the cause from June 28th to July 2nd.
According to the Sunshine Pantry: “can accept cash or check donations, as well as pre-paid gift cards to specific grocery stores and gas stations in addition to food. The best non-perishable food items include, pasta, pasta sauce, cereal, snacks, peanut butter, cooking oil, and rice.”
The Hops will be gathering donations at the gates during the June 29th to July 2nd homestand featuring the Eugene Emeralds. The days are Tuesday thru Friday.
“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with MTI on the “Shut Out Hunger” program,” said Hops President and General Manager, KL Wombacher. “As we’re coming out of the pandemic, we know many in our community are struggling to put food on the table more than ever. We’re grateful to be in a position to help and to have a great, Hillsboro-based partner supporting the effort along with us.”
MTI: Mobile Tech, Inc.
MTI is Mobile Tech, Inc, a long time Hillsboro organization that is a global leader in asset protection among many other services. You can donate food at their two office locations at 1050 NW 67th Avenue and 2345 NE Overlook Drive, suite 250. Both addresses are in Hillsboro. They will be collecting donations from June 28th to July 2nd, Monday thru Friday.
“1 in 10 children in Washington Country are food insecure and go to bed hungry. The COVID-19 pandemic created a larger need with even more people struggling to pay bills and put food on the table,” said Mary Jesse, MTI CEO. “The Hillsboro Hops offer a great family experience, but they also offer community support in Hillsboro and Washington County. MTI’s headquarters have always been in Hillsboro. We look forward to working together to help those families and individuals who need assistance during these challenging times.”
That’s it for this week. This week, the Hops stay home to host the Eugene Emeralds who are currently leading the league and recently gave the Hops their six-game losing streak. Therefore, you can watch the games on MiLB.tv, listen on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. So, my Twitter handle is below. And, of course there are my game recaps the following morning after every game.
Please remember two different times for games this week. First, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday will all be at their normal times of 7:05 PM. Second, Wednesday will be a day game and start at 1:05 PM. Third, Sunday will be an evening game (for the fireworks on Fourth of July) starting at 7:05 PM.