Hops off to a strong start

With the Major League Baseball season well underway, it’s Oregon’s turn to see some young professional prospects develop their craft in hopes of making it to the big league. There are a total of three Oregon Single-A teams who are a part of the Northwest League. The Eugene Emeralds who feed into the San Diego Padres, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes who feed into the San Francisco Giants, and the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, the Hillsboro Hops.

The season kicked on the 13th with a three-game series in the state of Washington against the Everett Aquasox, a farm team for the Seattle Mariners. In the first game the Hops led 3–1 heading into the seventh inning before eventually losing 4–3. The following night, fortunes turned in the Hops’ favor as DH Cesar Carrasco batted in a run on an eighth inning double to break a 2–2 tie which would be enough to win their first game of the season. Pitching was the headline of the second win for the Hops. Starting pitcher Anderson Placido recorded 12 strikeouts in just over five innings, and in doing so set a new club record. His performance was followed by five more strikeouts from the bullpen, leading the Hops to a 3–0 win to close out the series 2–1.

Because the season has just begun, it’s too early to figure out which players will shine and make it to the next level—possibly all the way to the show. However, one thing is certain and that is the coaches developing these players have had great success in the big leagues, and will be able to give these players the chance to be the stars of the future.

Former MLB All-Star and newly acquired hitting coach Mark Grace had quite the career in the big leagues. Grace racked up more hits than any other major league player during the 1990s. This impressive statistic is building high hopes and expectations from the batter’s box for this season’s Hops.

The recipe for success in all levels of baseball, however, does not just rely on how well a team can hit. Baseball normally comes down to pitching. Luckily, the Hops have also addressed this facet of the game by hiring former MLB pitcher Doug Drabek to be their pitching coach. Drabek’s most notable feat came during the 1990 season when he won the National League Cy Young Award while playing for the Pittsburg Pirates. Not only did he win the Cy Young, but he won it in the midst of the steroid era while competing against Hall of Famers Jon Smoltz and Greg Maddux.

In order to truly develop the talent needed to make an impact on the big leagues, it takes special coaches coaching special players. With such successful former players like Grace and Drabek now coaching the Hops, one can only hope that they have found the recipe for success. Either way, the one thing that is clear is that Hillsboro, and the entire Portland area, have a lot to look forward to the rest of the summer and hopefully for seasons to come.