Loperfido delivered good news on a platter

April 23rd, 2023

HOUSTON -- An avid hunter, High-A Asheville manager Nate Shaver brought deer jerky to the ballpark for his players to enjoy last week. Joey Loperfido, an infielder/outfielder from Philadelphia, had a couple of pieces, and that was enough. Shaver insisted Loperfido take the final piece of jerky off the plate, though.

Loperfido obliged, lifting it off the paper plate, at which point he saw a message written by Shaver on the plate. "Pack your bags, you’re going to Corpus Christi." Loperfido had been promoted to Double-A and was set to join the Hooks.

“I was a cool moment,” he said. “You always know that things can happen and you could be moving up. I was excited to get that opportunity and hopped on a flight early the next morning.”

Loperfido is off to a quick start with the Hooks, hitting .417 (5-for-12) with three homers and five RBIs in his first three games. He hit two home runs in Friday’s loss to San Antonio, and he added a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning Saturday in a game the Hooks lost when Daniel Johnson hit a grand slam in the 10th.

Loperfido, drafted in 2021 out of Duke University, is reunited in Corpus Christi with Hooks manager Joe Thon, who managed him last year in Single-A Fayetteville. Considering his time at Duke and that both of the Astros’ Class A affiliates are in North Carolina, Loperfido is looking forward to a change of scenery.

“Double-A is a challenge for sure, but a welcome challenge,” Loperfido said. “I was excited to get the opportunity to come to Texas. I’ve been playing in North Carolina, playing at Duke, for the last five or six years. It’s a great opportunity with a great group of guys here in Corpus. … Great clubhouse, and it’s going to be a good challenge here in Texas.”

Loperfido, the Astros’ 16th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, began the season at Asheville and slashed .265/.297/.529 in 34 at-bats with two doubles, two triples, three steals and one homer before getting promoted. He played four games at second base, two in right field, one in left field and one at first base at Asheville.

“I think, for me, just continue with that versatility defensively,” Loperfido said. “I know that can help me, especially with this organization. That’s something I worked on, being able to play the outfield and play the infield, too. Staying healthy. You want to be available, and you want to play as many games as possible. Kind of just riding out the hot finish I had last year, staying consistent with good at-bats and trying to help win ballgames.”

Triple-A Sugar Land
Catcher Korey Lee, the Astros’ No. 5 prospect, has thrown out six runners attempting to steal in 15 tries through Friday. He led the Pacific Coast League in caught stealings.

Lee has three of the four highest-velocity throws among Triple-A and Major League catchers, with a maximum throw of 90.8 mph, the fastest of any catcher in 2023. In 2022 with Sugar Land, Lee was tied for fifth in the PCL in caught stealing, throwing out 17 of 62 attempted basestealers (27.4 percent).

Double-A Corpus Christi
Outfielder Kenedy Corona, the team’s No. 18 prospect, homered in his first two games for the Hooks. Called up from High-A Asheville, he homered in his third at-bat at Double-A on Tuesday, and on Wednesday he hit a go-ahead three-run homer. He was acquired by the Astros, along with lefty Blake Taylor, from the Mets for outfielder Jake Marisnick in December 2019.

High-A Asheville
Jacob Melton, the Astros’ No. 2 prospect, is day to day with lower back discomfort. Melton, drafted by the Astros with the No. 64 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft out of Oregon State, is 4-for-25 with one homer in 25 at-bats for Asheville. He hasn’t played since Tuesday.

Single-A Fayetteville
The Woodpeckers struck out a franchise-record 21 batters on Wednesday in a 7-3 win over Columbia. Andrew Taylor, the team’s No. 15 prospect, and Michael Knorr (No. 25), combined for 20 of those strikeouts. Bryan Perez added one in the ninth inning. It’s the most whiffs in a Carolina League game since 2005.

Knorr, a third-round MLB Draft pick last year, made his first professional start and struck out nine of the 15 batters he faced in four innings, allowing two hits and two walks. Taylor, a second-round pick last year, struck out 11 batters in four innings, allowing a solo homer.