Week 3: Will New Guys Fuel Turnaround?
Week 3 left a big vacuum behind as two starters left and flew down to Arizona to have their injuries evaluated. A third ended up on the 7-day injured list. New faces, some old for the Hops’ fans, came in to fill the gaps with some success. The bats started waking up and the gloves were hot on the trail for any baseball coming their way. Week 3 is done. What can we expect in week 4?
Week 3 Injury Updates
Corbin Carroll is getting most of the injury update news. As expected Corbin underwent surgery on his right shoulder last week and will be out for the season. Carroll injured the shoulder in the follow through after he sent a home run on its way. The result was a “posterior capsular avulsion” and a “labrum tear” according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. You can check out Steve’s full article “Top prospect Carroll Facing ‘long road’ back’” by clicking on the title.
Just a word on Steve: he knows his stuff. He has followed the Diamondbacks for twenty years, all at MLB.com.
Carroll at college?
Also, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (azcentral.com) always keeps on top of stuff like this picture of Corbin below from his article. Corbin is facing a lot of downtime as he heals from the surgery. One of his plans is to work on his college degree. He is about a month away from completing one year. Remember, Corbin was drafted in 2019 right out of high school. Check out more of what
Nick had to say along with some quotes from Corbin in “Diamondbacks prospect Corbin Carroll eager to put shoulder injury behind him”.
At the same time that Corbin went down, Dom did as well. He also took a trip to Arizona to have his injury evaluated. No word yet on the injury itself but Dom was placed on the 7-day injured list… 12 days ago. We should be hearing something soon. In the meantime, check out Alex Morando’s article on Dom called “Barrel Up” from two years ago. You will find out why and how Dom earned the nickname ‘Barrel’ along with some of his youth, attending Ohio State and the remarkable story of Dom and his mother with the rest of his family.
The 7-day injured list is getting crowded. Yaramil went on the list on May 20th, retroactive to the day before.
Week 3: Newcomers
The Hops couldn’t have done much better returning a fan favorite to the old stomping grounds. After losing Corbin, fans shook their heads in disappointment. But, it wasn’t too long before those heads turned up and saw Andy walk up to the plate in his first game back. Smiles returned. Corbin is still missed but Andy has a place in Hops’ history.
The last time the Hops played before this season was in September, 2019. That year ended with a championship title. The series went the full five games. Andy stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two out, two men on base and down two runs on the scoreboard. The perfect Hollywood script. And Yerzy delivered. One smack and the three-run homer won the game and the championship
Now, Andy finds himself promoted to a team he left behind. While he was gone, the Hillsboro Hops moved up in the farm system and leap-frogged over Andy. When Andy came back, he found the fans a little dispirited and a team tired of a losing streak. An organization still dealing with the loss for the season of a top prospect. And everyone is looking for a reason to smile again. No pressure, right?
Turning it Around
In the first game, Andy swatted two singles along with fellow newcomer Tristan English. The two former Hops were responsible for four of the Hops’ five hits in the game. They still lost the game but the bats began to wake up. The second game featured a first inning solo home run by Andy to start the scoring and a win to break the losing streak. The third game featured another first inning home run from Andy but with Axel Andueza on board and a second win.
Andy had the fourth game off but he found himself needed late in the game after catcher Nick Dalesandro was ejected from the game by plate umpire Nathan Diederich in the eighth inning. Andy trotted in from the bullpen to take Nick’s place.
It was another perfect set up in the bottom of the ninth. The Hops rallied to within one run of the Vancouver Canadians after being down 5-1. Andy stepped up to the plate with the tying run at third, the winning run on second and only one out. But, instead of a home run or a double for the walk-off win, Andy popped up to the Vancouver catcher Ryan Gold in foul territory. No storybook ending that night. But, that’s OK. Humans don’t always get the job done. In week 2, the fans mourned the loss of Corbin Carroll. In week 3, the fans celebrated the return of Andy Yerzy.
An infusion to the bats also came in the form of 2019’s Tristan English. Drafted in the third round of that year, Tristan played mostly third base. Two of his teammates that year were Andy Yerzy behind the plate and (in the second half of the season) Corbin Carroll patrolling center field. Dom Canzone took up residence in left field next to Corbin. Nick Dalesandro also filled in behind the plate. Ricky Martinez was a rookie playing mostly shortstop and only committed two errors the entire year.
And this isn’t counting anyone on the pitching staff like Luis Frias, Yaramil Hiraldo or Drey Jameson among others. This is the team that won that 2019 championship. On that team, Triston played 50 games scoring 32 times, averaged more than one hit per game, smacked twelve doubles, two triples and seven home runs. Oh, and he also batted .290 and drove in 30 runs.
What has he done this year? In six games, Tristan has scored three times on seven hits and is right behind Andy Yerzy (.363) and Corbin Carroll (.435) with a .333 batting average on the team.
Add to that some exciting young prospects like Blaze Alexander, Axel Andueza and Buddy Kennedy, there is more than enough reason to be a little excited again.
Hampton came the same day as Tristin, last Tuesday. Reece was signed as a free agent from the Detroit Tigers after playing two years with the organization. One thing I noticed right away is that Reece is quick and speedy. And agile on the bases. His last score for the Hops involved flying through the air to avoid the tag and reaching over to touch the plate for another run.
Reece doesn’t have the advantage that Andy and Tristan have with already a history with the team. But, it seems like the speedy outfielder is already fitting right in.
Diaz just arrived so he has only played one game. Promoted from the Visalia Rawhide, the right-handed outfielder is already known to go deep and at 6’2” seems solidly built. The Hops need some power. Eduardo could be a part of that answer.
Week 3: Defense
The Hops did distinguish themselves with the glove. All of the following is from just one game: May 19th, Tuesday.
In the fourth inning, third baseman Buddy Kennedy calmly drifted over to the dugout railing and, with feet firmly planted in foul territory, stretched into the dugout and gloves the pop up by Tanner Morris. It was not as easy as it looked.
Fans didn’t have long to wait for the next impressive defensive display. The very next batter slapped a sharp grounder to shortstop Blaze Alexander. Hustling in front of the perky bouncer, he smoothly, in one motion, scooped up the erratic ball and threw sidearm to first base and easily beat the fast feet of the speedy Luis De Los Santos. Another play that made it look easier than it was.
Nick Dalesandro Controls Base paths
The sixth inning showcased the throwing arm of catcher Nick Dalesandro. DJ Neal singled and tried to steal second. Nick fired a sharp throw on the money to second baseman Ricky Martinez who tagged the runner in time. But, that was just the start of Nick’s trifecta.
The seventh showed a repeat, this time with shortstop Blaze Alexander covering the base. Tanner Kirwer got a jump and Nick followed with a quick throw that Blaze who again, like his fielding earlier, caught and swiped the runner in one smooth motion.
And finally, the eighth was a group effort. Catching Spencer Horwitz too far off base, Nick quickly got up and ran towards the basepath waiting for Horowitz to commit to one direction or the other. When the runner did commit, Nick tossed to Ricky at second and the rundown began. Ricky tossed to Axel Andueza at first who then tossed to Blaze near second base. When Blaze darted towards the runner, Spencer stopped running and waited for the tag to put him out.
Even if the Hops bats are struggling, the Hops have some pretty good gloves out in the field.
Week 3: Steals
Lastly, the Hops’ quickness is becoming historic. Already tying the league record of eleven steals in one game, The Hops have also managed to steal six bases in one inning — twice. They currently lead the league with an astounding 51 steals. In second place are the Spokane Indians with 35 stolen bases.
Not only that, The Hops lead all of Minor League Baseball. The second highest team are the Low A East Fayetteville Woodpeckers with 41 steals. Hops players are stealing second base most of the time they have the chance. Stealing third is almost expected. Especially by nervous pitchers looking over their shoulders and wary catchers with one eye on their pitcher and the other eye on the runner behind him. Ricky Martinez even stole home and scored what proved to be the game winning run.
In the age of power and launch angles reducing the game to mostly home runs and strikeouts, it is nice to see everyone wide awake when a Hops batter reaches base.
Week 3: Standings
The Hops went 2-4 against the league leading Vancouver Canadians. The Hops started the week with a 5-7 record and three games behind the top. They ended the week with a 7-11 record and five games back. The season is still early but the more the Hops slide backwards, the farther they will have to come back.
With the newcomers arriving to help the steady gloves in both the infield and outfield, the turnaround may have already started. The Hops are on the road in Tri City for a six game series with the Dust Devils.
We have two weeks before the next home game for the Hops at Ron Tonkin Field. That gives you time to check out the previous weekly look-backs at Minor League Sports Report: Week 1: Mixed Bag and Week 2: Hope & Perks. Even though the Hops will be on the road, you can read about the games in my daily recaps the following morning. The Twittercast of half-inning updates will return in two weeks with the next home game.
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