O'Hoppe progressing toward potential late summer return

July 17th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger’s Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ANAHEIM -- When catcher underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder on April 25, there was a chance he could be out for the season. 

The initial timeline was four to six months, which meant O’Hoppe could be out through September. But O’Hoppe, ranked as the club’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 29 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, made it his mission to return on the sooner end of that spectrum. And he’s now on track to potentially return at some point in late August, which should be a boost for the Angels. 

O’Hoppe, 23, progressed to hitting off a tee on Saturday and is set to start participating in more baseball activities next week, including getting behind the plate and receiving and throwing. He’s been playing catch without any issues and will continue to ramp up his hitting, moving up to soft toss before taking batting practice. 

O’Hoppe made a big impact with the Angels early this season before his injury, hitting .283/.339/.547 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games. But he’s likely to need a rehab assignment before returning to action, given how long he’s been out. 

Manager Phil Nevin, though, has been impressed with O’Hoppe’s work ethic and noted that he gives input during pregame meetings with the catchers and pitchers and has charted every pitch since his injury. 

“I think it’s two-fold,” Nevin said. “He’s really smart with his preparation and our game planning. He has a lot of input on that. But he also gets that learning curve sitting in the dugout and watching the game. It kinda slows it down a little bit.  

“And he’s charted every game and every pitch since he's been hurt. Even when we're on the road, he's sitting there watching TV and charting pitches and understanding how to attack hitters. And following the game plans that we all make for the players.”

Here’s a look at how other Angels’ prospects are faring at each of their four Minor League affiliates:

Triple-A Salt Lake: OF
Adams, ranked as the club’s No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has rebounded from a tough year offensively last season and has been faring well at Triple-A, hitting .260/.342/.467 with 12 homers, 31 stolen bases and 56 RBIs in 76 games. He still needs to cut down on his strikeouts -- he’s struck out 93 times in 334 plate appearances -- but he’s shown power and speed. The 23-year-old is also considered a strong defender at all three outfield spots.

Double-A Rocket City: UT
Jackson has been heating up offensively with Double-A Rocket City, hitting .265/.351/.706 with eight homers, six doubles and 19 RBIs over his last 18 games. Jackson, ranked as the club’s No. 12 prospect, has also been showing his versatility defensively, seeing action at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and center field. He also made an incredible diving catch while playing second base to take away a hit on Friday.

High-A Tri-City: RHP
The Angels signed Dana for over slot for nearly $1.5 million after taking him in the 11th round of the 2022 Draft and the early returns have been impressive for the 19-year-old. Dana, the club’s No. 9 prospect, dominated in two starts with Single-A Inland Empire, earning a promotion to High-A in late April. He’s posted a 4.22 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings in 11 starts with Tri-City despite being four years younger than the average competition.

Single-A Inland Empire: RHP
Urena, 19, started off slow at Single-A but has been pitching much better recently, posting a 2.14 ERA over his last four starts. Urena, ranked as the club’s No. 14 prospect, has struck out 22 batters and walked nine batters over 21 innings during that span. He’s a hard thrower, as his fastball has touched as high as 102 mph and sits in the high 90s. He pairs it with a solid changeup and a developing slider.