In the first look at the battery in the Arizona Fall League, both Philadelphia prospects starred Monday afternoon in Peoria’s 5-3 loss to Surprise.
The signs of a stellar outing were there from the onset. McArthur whiffed the first batter he faced -- Nationals No. 19 prospect Jackson Cluff -- on three pitches. The right-hander recorded all his outs in the first inning via the strikeout.
McArthur worked his way in and out of trouble as quickly as possible. Following a one-out RBI triple by Surprise’s Austin Wells, he bowed his neck and whiffed back-to-back batters. The 2018 12th-round pick finished with six strikeouts across four innings, allowing one run on one hit and two walks.
But who McArthur was throwing to arguably mattered most -- O’Hoppe, the Phillies’ No. 11 prospect, who was briefly his teammate this season at Double-A Reading. The battery worked together three times, with McArthur spinning a 3.00 ERA in those outings.
Describing McArthur as a “great dude” with an adaptable mentality when on the hill, O’Hoppe has gotten familiar with the 6-foot-7 right-hander -- they were drafted just five rounds apart in 2018.
While McArthur’s numbers at Reading might not jump off the page, he posted a 2.31 ERA over his final five appearances (including an outing for High-A Jersey Shore), racking up 31 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.
“He was executing his secondary pitches when he was behind in counts and his fastball command was pretty good too,” O’Hoppe said of his hurler. “So when you put those two together, you have a pretty good recipe to do well. … He’s just fun to work with.”
In addition to his lauded receiving skills, O'Hoppe's bat did ample damage Monday, plating all three runs for the Javelinas on a three-hit afternoon. After notching a two-run single to right field in the first, the 21-year-old ripped an RBI double to left in the fifth.
“I tried to slow everything down. The first couple of days, everything sped up on me a little bit. … I tried to be a little bit more in the moment and it felt much better today.”
In the past 18 months, O’Hoppe has traversed the globe -- both literally and in a baseball sense. After playing 28 games in the Australian Baseball League in 2019-20 with the Adelaide Giants, O’Hoppe navigated three levels of the Minor Leagues this season -- in addition to having appeared at the Phillies’ alternate training site camp last summer.
Now he finds himself at the upper echelon of prep for the last remaining obstacle: a callup to the Major League roster.
“This experience has been great,” O’Hoppe said. “As far as being here, I’m just trying to get more experience under my belt and see as many pitches as I can.”
Southpaw Asa Lacy started opposite McArthur. The third-ranked Royals prospect found himself in trouble early and often Monday, exiting after recording just two outs. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 Draft and one of the most highly touted arms in attendance in Arizona allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in his second start for Surprise after spinning two scoreless frames in his debut.
While O’Hoppe did the damage for Peoria, Surprise’s backstop Wells almost single-handedly led his team to victory. The Yankees’ No. 6 prospect plated four runs on four hits.