Phils' O'Hoppe wins AFL's Stenson Award

November 20th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By all accounts, Phillies catcher Logan O’Hoppe had a very good Arizona Fall League. He posted a .964 OPS, he walked more than he struck out and he even stole three bases -- all while playing outstanding defense behind the plate.

Those are all excellent measurements of his on-field production. It’s a little tougher to quantify his impact beyond those numbers, but his tireless work ethic, his ability to work with pitchers and his dedication all were clearly noticed by his peers, his coaches and the league. And that’s why he’s the recipient of the 2021 Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award.

O’Hoppe, the Phillies’ No. 11 prospect, seems to display the right mix of humility and confidence in his abilities, quick to recognize that who he is has a lot to do with who he’s been around over the years.

“That's something I try to take pride in and really focus on during the year, but I think it came from being surrounded by good people when I was younger, back on Long Island,” said O’Hoppe, who was sure to mention three people specifically: his trainer back home, Adam Belding; his high school coach, Casey McKay; and Tom Downey, his travel ball coach, who is also an associate scout for the Phillies.

“Fortunately, there are some good people over there. And that really helped me along the way. That's just to name a few. There are tons that I've been lucky enough to be surrounded with, but I'd say the people around me have definitely helped me at that.”

That foundation of support helped O’Hoppe, a 23rd-round pick in the 2018 Draft out of St. John the Baptist HS (N.Y.), become a surprise invitee to the Phillies’ alternate training site in 2020, where he more than held his own. It also allowed him to really jump on the prospect radar in 2021, a season that saw him play across three levels, reaching Triple-A, and get sent to Arizona.

And it’s the reason O'Hoppe is this year’s winner of the Stenson Award, created in 2004 to honor the memory of former Arizona Fall League player Dernell Stenson, who was killed in 2003 in Arizona during the AFL season. Stenson, who played for the AFL's Grand Canyon Rafters in 1998, was playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions at the time of his death. Drafted by the Red Sox in 1996, Stenson played in 37 games with the Reds during the 2003 season.

The sportsmanship award is presented annually to the Arizona Fall League player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership. The manager and coaching staff from each of the six AFL teams nominate one player for the award, and O’Hoppe’s efforts were certainly appreciated by Peoria Javelinas manager Anthony Contreras, who was recently named the manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate.

“I think consistency is the main word, and he doesn't deviate from his process every single day,” Contreras said. “Getting to be around him for these 30-plus days, you get to see why he's having so much success on the field. He takes treating his body the right way, the way he treats his teammates, the attention to detail when it comes to his cage work, asking questions, doing all this stuff that you want to see in a pro.

“And you mix that with talent, that's usually the equation for success. And he hasn't changed one bit. You can see it -- at this part of the season, guys are getting tired. But he's in there every single day. He’s a big boy that’s strong and keeps his body in good shape. And that takes discipline and dedication. And he hasn't deviated from it the entire time he was here. And he's starting to reap the benefits of it on the field, which is exciting to see.”

Contreras wasn’t the only one who noticed. One of the most challenging aspects of catching in the AFL is having to learn the stuff and characteristics of almost an entirely new pitching staff. Count Mariners right-hander Devin Sweet as one of those who felt that O’Hoppe’s efforts helped him get better on the mound.

“The first thing he said to me when we got here was, ‘Hey, I'm here for you, whatever you need, just let me know. I'm just trying to make you go out there and show your stuff,’” Sweet said. “So from the jump, it was just a good connection. He's really vocal, making sure he knows exactly what we're trying to work on. Every time we pitch, he's asking me afterwards, ‘Hey, what do you think? Was that good?’ So every every time we throw, it’s a good connection.

“He works really hard. He's always in the weight room, always hitting, always doing all the stuff, the little things.”

As tireless as his efforts have been, O’Hoppe is looking forward to finally having a little down time after playing 135 games between the regular season and the AFL, catching 96 of them. Just don’t expect him to put his feet up for too long.

“I'm going to try to take some time off enjoy the holidays and catch up with my family, all that great stuff,” O’Hoppe said. “But I have a plan in place with my trainer, and we'll take a couple weeks off and then get back into everything.”