Phillies' O'Hoppe stays hot at the plate

October 21st, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Logan O’Hoppe figures it takes about one week for him to settle in with a new team. He should know. The Peoria Javelinas represent his fourth club of the 2021 season after he climbed through High-A, Double-A and Triple-A in the Phillies system this summer.

Arizona Fall League Opening Day was last Wednesday. Exactly one week later, O’Hoppe is backing up his words.

The Phillies’ No. 11 prospect went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored to lead Peoria to a 5-4 win over Glendale in seven innings at Camelback Ranch. It was O’Hoppe’s second straight three-hit performance in the AFL, and after opening the season 0-for-11 in his first three games, the 21-year-old catcher has gone 6-for-9 with three two-baggers in his last two contests.

“I’ve been trying to slow my heart rate down a little bit,” he said. “The first couple games were a little tough. Things were speeding up on me a little bit. So trying to control my breathing, see a good pitch out of the hand, and I got a couple of those tonight.”

O’Hoppe’s first double -- a first-pitch knock to right field -- plated second-ranked Phillies prospect Bryson Stott to give Peoria a 2-0 lead in the first inning. His second also went the other way, skipping over the right-field fence for a ground-rule double and again bringing home Stott, rounding out the Javelinas’ scoring with the club’s fifth run of the game.

The right-handed slugger also beat out an infield single in the third and scored on a base hit by Símon Muzziotti (PHI 16) two batters later.

Taking some time to get settled and find a routine is nothing new to O’Hoppe. The 23rd-round selection in the 2018 Draft hadn’t played any full-season ball when he jumped to High-A Jersey Shore this summer. He hit .270/.335/.459 with 13 homers in 85 games with the BlueClaws, leading to brief cameos with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in August and September.

The Phillies were pleased with his ability to show decent pop while maintaining his status as a plus defender behind the plate. But it’s more than his physical tools that the backstop relies on, whether things are working or not.

“I work a lot with our mental strength coach with the Phillies -- Hannah Huesman, her name is -- so I’m blowing up her phone and talking about that for a few years now being in the system,” O’Hoppe said. “A big thing is controlling our day in the morning. So when I wake up, I try to really control those things and make sure I’m going through them in the right way and setting the tone for the rest of the day.”

The AFL serves as a premium test for any player’s breakout, particularly a catcher. The circuit brings together players from five different farm systems and mixes them together for six weeks. That means there a lot of different arms O’Hoppe and other backstops have to learn and catch in a short period of time. If he can find a way to stay on top of his game defensively and keep this recent string of offensive performances going into November, his reputation will grow even larger this autumn.

“Usually it takes about a week to get settled, and then everyone gets a little more comfortable,” O’Hoppe said. “We’re getting to that point. We have a really good group here, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

O’Hoppe also served as catcher during a difficult start for Padres No. 4 prospect MacKenzie Gore. The southpaw, who looked solid in his debut last week, walked five of the 11 batters he faced and was charged with three earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings.

“He didn’t have his best stuff, but I thought he did a really, really good job of adjusting,” O’Hoppe said. “We had a couple mound visits, and it seemed to click right away for him whenever we made that adjustment and pointed to something he needed to work on. He’s really smart and understands what he needs to do, so he is one of the dudes that’s really fun to work with.”

Stott went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs as the game’s only other player with multiple hits Wednesday. The two teams combined for 16 walks over seven frames.