2nd Half Flag at Stake as Hops Open Final Series

TONIGHT: The Hops host the Eugene Emeralds in the opener of a three-game series — a series which will decide the 2nd-half South Division flag, as well as which team the Hops will face in the playoffs beginning Monday. First-half South Division champ Hillsboro is trying to win both halves for the second straight year. RHP Justin Donatella will make a spot start for Hillsboro. Don’t let his 8.10 ERA fool you. He allowed four runs in 1.1 innings in his last outing; in his other 10 games as a pro (nine in the Arizona Rookie League), his ERA is 0.89.

EUGENE WITH THE EDGE: An update on yesterday’s post (scroll down to see it). Eugene beat Salem-Keizer, so they have the inside track to face the Hops in the South Division series. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is two with three days remaining in the season — any combination of Eugene wins and Salem-Keizer losses totaling two over the next three days, and Eugene is in. While Eugene is at Hillsboro over the next three days, Salem-Keizer will be at Boise,

TONIGHT’S GAMEDAY INFORMATION: has been posted. Great stuff on all the players.

RECORD-TYING BLANKING: The Hops shut out Boise 12-0 last night, tying the Northwest League record for shutouts in a season. It was the Hops 10th shutout, equaling the mark set by Boise in 1990 and matched by Vancouver in 2002 and Tri-City in 2011.

LIVING UP TO THE BILLING: Hops shortstop Dansby Swanson, the #1-overall pick in the 2015 draft, went 5×6 at Boise last night, the second Hop ever with five hits in one game (Steve Nyisztor also did it at Boise in 2014).

TONIGHT’S RADIO PREGAME SHOW BEGINS AT 6:35 ON RIP CITY RADIO 620AM AND http://www.RipCityRadio.com.

TRENDING UPWARD: Trevor Mitsui broke out of a 1-for-20 slide last night in Boise, going 2-for-4 with four runs batted in. The four RBIs give Mitsui 40, setting a new franchise single-season record. Incredibly, he has 26 RBIs in his last 18 games. He also has seven HR in that span, though just one in his last 13 games.

VS. EUGENE: The Hops are 5-4 vs. Eugene this year, and entering the third inning of last Sunday’s 10-4 loss, Hillsboro had a stretch of just one run allowed in 41 innings against Eugene. All-time, Hillsboro is 21-12 against the Emeralds, but just 8-7 at Ron Tonkin Field. Eugene took two of three here from July 1-3, including a 2-1, 11-inning win over the Hops — Hillsboro’s first-ever extra-inning home loss after 10 wins in their first two seasons.

LEAGUE ERA LEADER? Carlos Hernandez threw 6 shutout inn. at Boise Thu., lowering his ERA to 2.32. S-K LHP Drew Leenhouts, second in the league at 2.57 will need 7.2 inn without an earned run in his final start in Boise on Saturday to drop below Hernandez. Eugene’s Adbert Alzolay, the only other pitcher with a chance to catch Hernandez, has a 2.04 ERA, but needs 8 inn. to qualify; he threw 5.2 inn Thursday and is likely done for the regular season.

Deciphering the South Division Playoff Possibilities Entering Thursday’s Games

So, just who will the first-half champion Hops face in the South Division series beginning on Monday? Will it be Eugene? Or Salem-Keizer? I geeked out and spent a lot of time determining the possibilities today.

Before we get into all the details, you must understand these things:

— If Eugene wins the second-half South Division flag, they obviously will be the Hops playoff opponent. If Hillsboro wins the second half — giving them both halves — their playoff opponent will be the division rival with the next-best season-long overall record. And entering play tonight (Thursday), Eugene and Salem-Keizer were tied at 37-35 in the overall standings.

— Thursday night, Hillsboro finishes its series in Boise. Salem-Keizer hosts Eugene. Then, over the weekend, Eugene comes to Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro for a three-game series, while Salem-Keizer travels to Boise for three. The regular season ends Sunday, and the playoffs begin on Monday.

— Hillsboro opens the best-of-three South Division series on Monday at either Salem-Keizer or Eugene. Game two, and if necessary game three, would be in Hillsboro on Tuesday and Wednesday.

So, with all that as prologue, here are the bottom-line takeaways entering Thursday night’s games. After this, for those of you with a lot of time on your hands, I will explain the scenarios that led to these conclusions.

1) Salem-Keizer has already been eliminated from division contention.

2) If Salem-Keizer beats Eugene Thursday, Salem-Keizer’s three-game weekend series at Boise is irrelevant to the playoffs. (I know… strange. Later, I’ll explain why.) A Salem-Keizer win Thursday means a best two-of-three series between Hillsboro and Eugene over the weekend will decide if Eugene or Salem-Keizer gets in. If, under this scenario, Eugene wins two of three from Hillsboro to claim the division, they’re in. If Hillsboro wins two of three to take the division, Salem-Keizer gets in.

3) If Eugene and Hillsboro both win Thursday, Eugene’s magic number to make the playoffs is two. Any combination of Eugene wins and Salem-Keizer losses totaling two over the weekend, and Eugene advances.

4) If Eugene wins and Hillsboro loses Thursday, one Eugene win OR two Salem-Keizer losses over the weekend puts Eugene in the playoffs.

5) If Salem-Keizer wins Thursday, the result of Thursday’s Hillsboro game in Boise is irrelevant to the playoff race. In other words, if Salem-Keizer wins Thursday, it’s a best two-of-three between Eugene and Hillsboro over the weekend, regardless of whether Hillsboro wins or loses tonight.

So, just how did I come to all these conclusions? I had to break it up into the four possible scenarios for the results in Thursday’s games:

1) Hillsboro beats Boise, Eugene beats Salem-Keizer
2) Hillsboro beats Boise, Salem-Keizer beats Eugene
3) Boise beats Hillsboro, Eugene beats Salem-Keizer
4) Boise beats Hillsboro, Salem-Keizer beats Eugene

And I then analyzed each scenario from there.

Here are the current standings entering Thursday’s games:

            2nd half           Overall
.           W        L          W        L
EUG    20        14        37        35
HIL      19        15        41        31
S-K     17        17        37        35

SCENARIO ONE: Hillsboro and Eugene both win Thursday:

Standings after Thursday’s games:

            2nd half           Overall
.          W        L          W        L
EUG    21        14        38        35
HIL      20        15
S-K     17        18        37        36

— Salem-Keizer would be eliminated from division contention (4 out with 3 left)

— Salem-Keizer would be one game out in the overall standings, and Eugene would hold the tiebreaker (a 5-4 record against Salem-Keizer in the second half). That means Salem-Keizer would have to gain TWO games over the final three days in the overall, AND Hillsboro would have to beat Eugene for the division.

— It’s a best two-of-three between Eugene and Hillsboro for the division title. Eugene would need two wins over weekend to clinch division. If Eugene loses two of three to the Hops, that leaves both at 22-16, and the Hops would be 4-2 against Eugene in the second half, meaning Hillsboro would win the division, and the overall record would come into play. If that’s the case, then Eugene would be 39-37 in the overall, and Salem-Keizer would need to sweep Boise to get to 40-36.

— SO, if Eugene wins 2 of 3, they take the division. If Eugene wins 1 of 3, Salem-Keizer has to sweep. If Eugene wins 0 of 3 — leaving them at 38-38 — Salem-Keizer has to take 2 of 3 to get to 39-37.

— Bottom line: if Eugene and Hillsboro both win tonight, Eugene’s magic number to make the playoffs is two. Any combination of Eugene wins and Salem-Keizer losses totaling two over the weekend, and Eugene advances.

SCENARIO TWO: If Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer both win Thursday:

Standings after Thursday’s games:

            2nd half           Overall
.           W        L          W        L
EUG    20        15        37        36
HIL      20        15
S-K     18        17        38        35

— Salem-Keizer would be two out in the division race with three to play, but would be eliminated from the division race because the most wins they could get would be 21, and either Hillsboro or Eugene would get to at least 22.

— Salem-Keizer would be one game up in the overall standings, but in reality two games up, because they would hold the tiebreaker (a 5-4 record against Eugene in the second half).

— It’s still a best two-of-three between Eugene and Hillsboro for the division title. If Eugene wins twice, they’re in.

— If Eugene loses 2 of 3, they’re at 38-38 in the overall, and Salem-Keizer is automatically in, even if they lose all three remaining games. (Three losses for Salem-Keizer would leave them also at 38-38, and they would hold the tiebreaker.)

— SO, under this scenario, the series between Salem-Keizer and Boise is irrelevant. If Eugene takes 2 of 3 from Hillsboro to win the division, they’re in. If the Hops take 2 of 3 to win the division, Salem-Keizer is in. Weird.

SCENARIO THREE: IF Hillsboro loses and Eugene wins on Thursday:

Standings after Thursday’s games:

            2nd half           Overall
.           W        L          W        L
EUG    21        14        38        35
HIL      19        16
S-K     17        18        37        36

— Salem-Keizer would be eliminated from division contention (4 out with 3 left)

— Salem-Keizer would be one game out in the overall standings, and Eugene would hold the tiebreaker (a 5-4 record against Salem-Keizer in the second half). That means Salem-Keizer would have to gain TWO games over the final three days in the overall, AND Hillsboro would have to beat Eugene for the division.

— Eugene would need to win just one game over the weekend to clinch the division. Hillsboro would need to sweep to claim the division.

— If Eugene loses all three to Hillsboro, Hillsboro wins the division and Eugene is 38-38 in the overall. Salem-Keizer would need to win two of three from Boise to get to 39-37 and win the overall.

— SO, under this scenario, one Eugene win OR two Salem-Keizer losses puts Eugene in the playoffs.

SCENARIO FOUR: IF Hillsboro loses and Salem-Keizer wins on Thursday:

Standings after Thursday’s games:

            2nd half           Overall
.           W        L          W        L
EUG    20        15        37        36
HIL      19        16
S-K     18        17        38        35

— Salem-Keizer is eliminated from the division. Why? The best they could do over the weekend, if they swept Boise, would be 21-17, and a tie for the division title with both Hillsboro and Eugene, if Hillsboro wins 2 of 3 from Eugene, putting both also at 21-17. Under this scenario, Hillsboro would be division champs, because their record in 2nd-half head-to-head meetings with Salem-Keizer and Eugene would be 9-5 (Salem-Keizer would be 8-9, and Eugene would be 6-9).

— It still comes down to a best two-of-three for the division title between Eugene and Hillsboro. If Eugene takes 2 of 3, they obviously finish two games in front. If Hillsboro takes 2 of 3, they finish in a tie with Eugene at 21-17, and Hillsboro would hold the tiebreaker with a 4-2 edge in 2nd-half meetings with Eugene.

— If Eugene loses 2 of 3, they’re at 38-38 in the overall, and Salem-Keizer is automatically in, even if they lose all three remaining games. (Three losses for Salem-Keizer would leave them also at 38-38, and they would hold the tiebreaker.)

— SO, again, under this scenario, the series between Salem-Keizer and Boise is irrelevant. If Eugene takes 2 of 3 from Hillsboro to win the division, they’re in. If the Hops take 2 of 3 to win the division, Salem-Keizer is in. Again, weird.

Whew. Get all that? Good, because my head is still spinning.

Hops Seek 3rd Win in 4 Games Vs. Tri-City

TONIGHT: The Hops seek their third win in four games at home against Tri-City. RHP Tyler Mark looks to rebound from recent struggles.

TONIGHT’S GAMEDAY INFORMATION, including bio information on all Hops players can be found here: http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20130614&content_id=50672896&sid=t419&vkey=stats

YESTERDAY: Cody Reed, Ariel Hernandez, newcomer Justin Donatella and Taylor Clarke combined on a two-hit shutout in the Hops’ 3-0 victory at Ron Tonkin Field over Tri-City. Trevor Mitsui homered for the seventh time in his last 10 games, a three-run first-inning shot to right off Adrian DeHorta, which accounted for all three runs in the game.

TONIGHT’S RADIO PREGAME SHOW BEGINS AT 6:35 ON RIP CITY RADIO 620AM AND http://www.RipCityRadio.com.

LOW-HITTERS: Yesterday’s game was the ninth time in the franchise’s 221 gamesand the fourth time in 65 games in 2015 — that the Hops have held an opponent to two hits or fewer, including the no-hitter by Kyle Schepel (“SKAY-pul”) in Boise on 8/31/13. Hillsboro has had a two-hitter or better against every NWL club except Spokane. The full list:

Date   H/R Opp.   #H  W/L Score
6/22/13 A   Everett  2    L     3-1 (7 inn.)
8/21/13 A   Eugene 2    W   2-1
8/31/13 A   Boise    0    W   5-0
8/13/14 H   Boise    1    W   2-1 (10 inn.)
8/30/14 H   Eugene 2    W   1-0
6/28/15 A   Vanc.    2    L     6-2
7/26/15 H   S-K       2    W   4-3
8/13/15 H   Vanc.    2    W   1-0
8/25/15 H   Tri-City  2    W   3-0

JACKS OR BETTER: The Hops’ first home run this season was a 3-run shot by Fernery Ozuna on 6/19 at Spokane. They didn’t hit another home run with more than one runner on base for exactly two months. Since then, Trevor Mitsui (8/19 at Salem-Keizer), Dansby Swanson (8/20 home vs. Boise) and Mitsui again (8/25 home vs. Tri-City) have hit three-run home runs. The only grand slam in franchise history came 8/11/14 at S-K off the bat of Zach Esquerra.

GOING LONG: Trevor Mitsui has homered 7 times in his last 10 games, after hitting 3 in his first 48 games. He homered in 5 straight games 8/15-8/19 (6 HR total).

Dansby and Hops Look for Second Straight Win Over Tri-City

THE FIRST SINCE WHO? Hops SS Dansby Swanson is the first top-overall pick in the draft to begin his career in the NWL in 27 years. The last? Ken Griffey Jr. with Bellingham in 1987 (54g, .313 with 14 HR as a 17-year-old). Matt Bush of the Padres played 8 games for Eugene in 2004, but he didn’t start his career there.

TONIGHT: Hillsboro faces Tri-City in the 2nd game of the 5-game series, and 5th game of the 8-game homestand.

TONIGHT’S GAMEDAY INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20130614&content_id=50672896&sid=t419&vkey=stats

LAST NIGHT: RHP Troy Marks stepped in for a spot start and took a perfect game into the top of the 6th, broken up on an infield hit by Mason Smith. He allowed 3 hits and a run in the 6th, and Hillsboro trailed 1-0 until Grant Heyman’s two-run single in the bottom of the 8th gave the Hops a 2-1 lead. Brody Greer worked a 1-2-3 top of the 9th to seal the win. It snapped Hillsboro’s 4-game losing streak, their longest losing streak in 25 months. Marks’ outing reversed a trend for Hops’ starters: in the previous 5 games, the usually staunch Hops’ starters’ ERA was 10.35. Hillsboro is back in a first-place tie in the 2nd half with Eugene.

TONIGHT’S RADIO PREGAME SHOW BEGINS AT 6:35 ON RIP CITY RADIO 620AM AND http://www.RipCityRadio.com.

PUMPIN’ STRIKES: Tri-City entered last night’s game leading the league in walks drawn with 295, 75 more than the next-closest club. Hillsboro pitching issued no walks last night.

MIT-SEEYA: Hillsboro first baseman Trevor Mitsui homered just three times in the team’s first 48 games. He hit 6 home runs in the team’s 5 games from 8/15-8/19, with homers in each of them. It is the longest such streak in Hops history, and with 9 on the season, Mitsui has set a new Hops single-season record for home runs.

VS. TRI-CITY: Hillsboro is 13-13 all-time against T-C, 7-4 at Ron Tonkin Field. But Tri-City is now a Padres affiliate. Against the previous Padres affiliate, Eugene, Hillsboro went 16-8 in 2013-14. However, even that might not be a fair statistic. With new Pads GM A.J. Preller and new director of player development Sam Geaney, San Diego appears to be placing a higher premium on winning at this level.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: The Hops are 19-6 in one-run games in 2015. They were 18-10 in 2014, 13-14 in 2013 (50-30 all-time).

Hops Seek Sweep With Newcomer On Hill

TONIGHT: The Hops look to match their season-best winning streak as they seek their fourth straight win, and gun for a 3-game sweep of Boise. RHP Brett Shankin, a former Mariners’ farmhand, makes his D-backs organizational debut. He had his contract purchased from the independent Frontier Greys (Frontier League) five days ago. Detailed info on Shankin can be found in today’s Gameday Information. Shankin takes Jared Miller’s spot in the rotation (see below).

LAST NIGHT: Josh Anderson pounded a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead, and Brody Greer pitched around a walk and a hit in the 9th to earn his first save. Anderson’s home run came too late for Hops starter Tyler Bolton, who allowed just two unearned runs in 7 inn, but again was denied his first win. (Through 10 starts, he’s 0-2, 3.86, and the Hops have won 5 of his 10 starts.)

TODAY’S RADIO PREGAME SHOW IS AT 4:35 ON 620AM and http://www.RipCityRadio.com.

THE BIG THREE BREAKS UP: LHP Jared Miller has (at last) been transferred up the ladder. He’s heading to Kane County of the Midwest League. Miller, LHP Cody Reed and RHP Carlos Hernandez were 1-2-3 (in various orders) in most pitching categories in the NWL in the season’s first half (and in many categories they are still 1-2-3). Miller leaves as the NWL leader in wins (7) & innings pitched (59.2), and is second to Hernandez in ERA (1.81), K’s (57) and WHIP (0.91).

HOME, SWEEP HOME? In spite of the Hops’ success over the past two calendar years — since 7/18/13 they’re far and away the best team in the NWL — they haven’t swept many series. The full list of Hops regular season sweeps (all 3-game series): at Eugene and at Boise (late in 2013); at Eug. and home vs. Eug (late in 2014); and in the first home series this year over Salem-Keizer. Tonight the Hops go for their sixth-ever sweep, and third at home.

CHICKS MIGHT DIG THE LONGBALL… but it ain’t necessary for a winning club. From July 3-13, the Hops hit 12 home runs in 11 games. In the 21 games since, Hillsboro has hit just six home runs, five of them solos. … Of the Hops’ 22 HR 14 are solos and 7 are 2-run HR. Hillsboro’s only home run with more than one man on base was their first home run of the year, a 3-run shot in Spokane by Fernery Ozuna in the second game of the season on 6/19 — the Hops’ only 3 runs in a 10-3 loss.

NUMBER NINE: When newcomer B.J. Lopez took his place behind the plate last night, he became just the 9th catcher in the three-year history of the Hops. The up-to-date list of games caught since 2013: Elvin Soto 75, Yosbel Gutierrez 31, Jose Queliz 20, Tyler Baker 19, Alexis Olmeda 19, Nate Irving 18, Stryker Trahan 15, Grant Nelson 10, B.J. Lopez 1.Three of the nine — Soto, Irving and Lopez — are from New York City.

ON THE AIR: Hops games can be heard live on Rip City Radio 620 AM in Portland, and online at http://www.ripcityradio.com. Mobile listeners should use the iHeartRadio app. Today’s pregame show is at 4:35 PM.

D-backs 2nd-rounder Alex Young Makes Debut Tonight

TONIGHT: The Hops resume play following the All-Star break, opening a 3-game series at home against the Colorado Rockies’ Northwest League affiliate, the Boise Hawks. LHP Alex Young, Arizona’s 2nd-round draft choice out of TCU, makes his Hops debut and second-ever professional appearance. Detailed info on Young can be found in in the 8/6 game notes.

STARS ALIGNED: Two Hillsboro Hops appeared in the Northwest League-Pioneer League All-Star game, won by the NWL on Tuesday night at Avista Stadium in Spokane. Jared Miller started for the NWL, going two innings and allowing one run (a home run by Angels prospect Taylor Ward). Carlos Hernandez, working just two days after his start at Tri-City, replaced Miller and faced four batters, allowing a hit, a walk and a run while recording two outs. Two other Hops, OF Zach Nehrir and P Cody Reed, were selected to the team but did not play.

TONIGHT’S RADIO PREGAME SHOW BEGINS AT 6:35 ON RIP CITY RADIO 620AM AND http://www.RipCityRadio.com.

HELLO, MY NAME IS: The Diamondbacks made a number of roster moves over the All-Star break. Along with the addition of tonight’s starter, Alex Young, other newcomers include catcher B.J. Lopez (up from the Rookie-level Arizona League) and pitcher Brett Shankin (acquired from independent Frontier Greys of Frontier League). Also new are two players added over the final weekend at Tri-City prior to the All-Star break, outfielder Jake Peevyhouse and pitcher Kirby Bellow. Info on all newcomers can be found in the 8/6 notes.

Vs. BOISE: The Hops took 2 of 3 in Boise from July 23-25. Wins in the first two games of that series clinched the first-half title for the Hops. Hillsboro is 16-13 all-time vs. Boise, regular season and postseason combined (6-7 at home). The Hops have won 15 of the last 22 meetings.

GETTING SETTLED IN: The Hops are in a stretch where they go 26 days without a lengthy bus trip or night in a hotel. Their only 2 road series between now and 8/28 are daily commuter trips to Salem-Keizer.

HOME SWEET HOME? We’ll see. Hillsboro plays 16 of the next 22 at Ron Tonkin Field. The Hops are 12-7 at home.

ON THE AIR: Hops games can be heard live on Rip City Radio 620 AM in Portland, and online at http://www.ripcityradio.com. Mobile listeners should use the iHeartRadio app. Tonight’s pregame show is at 6:35 PM.

Notes on tonight: Has this ever happened before?

HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED BEFORE? This has to be a record, right? Tonight, Salem-Keizer faces the league-leader in ERA for the third straight game, when they take on the Hops at Ron Tonkin Field at 7:05 for the final game of the three-game series. The Hops’ Jared Miller led the league at 1.33 when he took the hill on Sunday. He took a 1-hit shutout into the 8th, but allowed 3 runs in that frame. He won, 4-3, though his ERA went up to 1.65, leaving Hillsboro’s Cody Reed as the league leader. On Monday, Salem-Keizer beat Reed, and his 7 earned runs allowed sent his ERA to 2.85. That leaves tonight’s Hops starter vs. Salem-Keizer, Carlos Hernandez, as the league leader at 1.47.

FOUR HOPS NAMED NWL ALL-STARS: The NWL announced today that Reed, Miller, Hernandez and OF Zach Nehrir will represent Hillsboro in the NWL-Pioneer League All-Star Game, next Tue., 8/4 at Avista Stadium in Spokane. This is the first time that the Short Season Class-A Northwest League and Rookie-Level Pioneer League will square off.

DOUBLE THE PLEASURE: Hops OF Zach Nehrir had 14 doubles in the 1st half, just 2 shy of the franchise single-season record held by Yogey Perez-Ramos (2013) & Jordan Parr (2014)

STREAKIN’: Salem-Keizer 3B Miguel Gomez has hit in 22 straight games, 4 shy of the Northwest League record of 26 set by Gary Johnson of Tri-City in 1962, and tied by Tony Laurenzi of Medford in 1982. Since 2009, here are the streaks of 20 or more games in the NWL:

23, Royce Bolinger, Spokane, 2012
22, Stephen Bruno, Boise, 2012
22, Miguel Gomez, Salem-Keizer, 2015
21, Mario Martinez, Everett, 2009
20, Jeffrey Baez, Boise, 2014
20, Tom Murphy, Tri-City, 2012
20, Alvaro Ramirez, Boise, 2010

ON THE AIR: Hops games can be heard live on Rip City Radio 620 AM in Portland, and online at http://www.ripcityradio.com. Mobile listeners should use the iHeartRadio app. Tonight’s pregame show is at 6:35 PM. Matt Richert and I will call the action.

An Internal Conversation

I was talking to myself this morning. (You do that too, right?) The conversation went like this:

Wow… what am I gonna do? halfway through the season, and my blog has been completely silent. But with preparing for each day’s broadcast, getting the Gameday Information ready, and sometimes writing the postgame article for HillsboroHops.com, it seems that I just don’t have time. Hmmm… but wait! I produce loads of content for the Gameday Information. Maybe I can also post that stuff here? Yeah, I think I’ll do that. Shoulda thought of that a long time ago.

So here goes:

********************************

TONIGHT: The Hops, having clinched the 1st-half title with two games remaining, play the finale of the 3-game series in Boise. RHP Tyler Bolton, (0-1, 4.10) who has pitched effectively for Hillsboro this year in his seven starts, looks for his first win. His game-by-game results and bio info are on the next page.

Tonight’s pregame show begins at 5:45 on Rip City Radio 620AM and http://www.RipCityRadio.com

LAST NIGHT: Steven Dezzi’s diving catch in right to begin the 9th inning helped preserve the Hops’ 3-2 win in Boise — a win which clinched the first-half flag and a September playoff berth. Boise left the tying run on 3rd and the winning run on 2nd in the 9th, and in fact left 7 on base — all 7 in scoring position, 5 in the last 3 innings. Ryan Burr induced Boise’s Brian Carroll to line out to end the game. Hillsboro will enter the postseason in September trying to win their 2nd straight title.

NICKELED AND DIMED: Tonight’s starting pitcher, Tyler Bolton, has allowed 45 hits in 37.1 innings—42 singles and 3 doubles.

TRIPPIN’: The Hops won the 1st half despite playing more road games (20) than any other team in the South. (Salem-Keizer has played 18, Eugene 18 and Boise 16.) Hillsboro is 11-9 on the road, and 10-6 at home. It also means the Hops will have more home games in the second half than any other team.

MEANWHILE, UP NORTH: With their 4th straight win last night, Everett’s magic number dropped to 2 with two games left. 2nd-place Tri-City has 3 games left — they were rained out in Vancouver on Fri., and play a twinbill tonight.

VS. BOISE: Hillsboro is 16-12 all-time against Boise (regular season and postseason), and the Hops have won 15 of the last 21 head-to-head meetings. The Hops are 10-5 at Memorial Stadium. Hillsboro swept Boise 2-0 in last year’s South Division playoff series.

ONE MORE WIN? The Hops need one more win to match their first-half total from last year, when they went 22-16 to win the South. After winning the first half in 2014, Hillsboro was even better in the 2nd half, going 26-12.

165 AND COUNTING: Over the last 165 games — since 7/18/13 — the Hops have won 95 and lost 59. That’s a .576 winning percentage, best in the NWL in that span.

**************************************

So, whaddaya think? Does this work?

Hop Ten from ’14, #1: “We Got This”

Date posted: June 16, 2015
Date of game: Sept. 7, 2014, Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro
Hops vs. Vancouver Canadians

Zac Curtis (Craig Mitchelldyer / Hillsboro Hops)

Zac Curtis (Craig Mitchelldyer / Hillsboro Hops)

With the Hops’ 2015 season just two days away, what better time to relive the events of 2014?

On the afternoon of Sept. 7, 2014, prior to Game Two of the Northwest League Championship Series, a Hops player or coach — or someone — posted a sign on the clubhouse wall at Ron Tonkin Field which read, “One more! One more win! WE GOT THIS! Let’s go, boys!”

About five hours later, they DID get it.

Below, you can relive the final half-inning. And then the memorable postgame celebration, including interviews with manager J.R. House, pitching coach Doug Drabek, hitting instructor Mark Grace, GM K.L. Wombacher, owner Mike McMurray, and players Jordan Parr, Elvin Soto, Taylor Ratliff and Zac Curtis.

First, the final half-inning:

And now the postgame celebration:

So, just WHEN does Dansby Swanson make his Hops debut?

By now, you probably know that the Arizona Diamondbacks — the parent club of the Hillsboro Hops — took Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the number one overall pick in the 2015 draft. But what are the chances that he plays in Hillsboro? And when?

The fact that Swanson is a college shortstop is huge. For the uninitiated, high school draft picks almost never make their debuts in the Class-A Northwest League. In fact, in the eight years I’ve called Northwest League baseball (six in the 1990s, plus the last two with the Hops), off the top of my head I can think of only one high school player whose career began in the NWL — pitcher Ryan Castellani with last year’s Tri-City club, a second-round pick of the Colorado Rockies. (There are probably a few others I don’t remember, and the Diamondbacks have had at least one, third baseman Matt Davidson with Yakima in 2009, when I wasn’t in the league.) Bottom line: high school picks are almost always sent to Rookie ball, a level below the Northwest League. College players are much more likely to be sent here.

Another big plus is the facilities here in Hillsboro. The Diamondbacks have been more willing to send a top pick to the Northwest League than they were in their final few years in the aging ballpark in Yakima.

Take a look at the charts below. The first one shows where the D-backs’ college first-round picks have made their debuts; the second shows where their first-round high school selections have begun their professional careers. (In some years, they had multiple selections in the first round and supplemental first round).

Arizona Diamondbacks’ COLLEGE first-round draft choices 2005-2014, and where they made their professional debuts (number in parentheses indicates overall selection number):

2013: (15) Braden Shipley, college RHP: Hillsboro (Short-Season Class A)
2013: (36) Aaron Blair, college RHP: Hillsboro (Short-Season Class A)
2011: (3) Trevor Bauer, college RHP: Visalia (Advanced A)
2011: (43) Andrew Chafin, college LHP: AZL D-backs (Rookie)
2010: (6) Barret Loux, college RHP: Did not sign
2009: (17) A.J. Pollock, college outfielder: South Bend (Long A)
2009: (45) Mike Belfiore, college LHP: Missoula (Rookie)
2008: (26) Daniel Schlereth, college LHP: Missoula (Rookie)
2008: (43) Wade Miley, college LHP: Yakima (Short-Season Class A)
2007: (50) Wes Roemer, college RHP: Yakima (Short-Season Class A)
2007: (61) Ed Easley, college catcher: Yakima (Short-Season Class A)
2006: (11) Max Scherzer, college RHP: Visalia (Advanced A, debut in 2007)
2006: (34) Brooks Brown, college RHP: Yakima (Short-Season Class A)
2005: (31) Matt Torra, college RHP: Yakima (Short-Season Class A)

Arizona Diamondbacks’ HIGH SCHOOL first-round draft choices 2005-2014, and where they made their professional debuts (number in parentheses indicates pick number in first round or supplemental first round):

2014: (16) Touki Toussaint, high school RHP: Missoula (Rookie)
2012: (26) Stryker Trahan, high school catcher: AZL D-backs (Rookie)
2011: (7) Archie Bradley, high school RHP: Missoula (Rookie)
2009: (16) Bobby Borchering, high school 3B: Missoula (Rookie)
2009: (35) Matt Davidson, high school 3B: Yakima (Short-Season Class A)
2009: (41) Chris Owings, high school SS: Missoula (Rookie)
2007: (9) Jarrod Parker, high school RHP: South Bend (Long A, debut in 2008)
2005: (1) Justin Upton, high school shortstop: South Bend (Long A, debut in 2006)

As you can see, in the final five years of the Yakima franchise, none of the Diamondbacks’ college selections began their pro careers there. (Though, interestingly, the aforementioned Matt Davidson, a high school pick, did.)

Oh, and one more thing: it also helps that Hillsboro is part of a major market. If you were a member of the Diamondbacks’ player development department, wouldn’t you want to come to the Portland area to see your top pick play?

So the fact that Dansby Swanson is a college shortstop, and the fact that we have these pristine facilities in a major market, our chances of seeing him play here (for at least a little while) are pretty good.

But, if he does come here, when?

This is where the speculation truly begins. Let’s go under the assumption that there isn’t a long, drawn-out negotiation, and that he signs a pro contract within a couple of days after Vanderbilt’s final game. (Aside: 2015 draft picks have to sign by July 17th if they’re going to sign at all.) He would then go to Arizona to have a physical and take part in all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds a first-round draft choice, especially the top overall pick. He’d probably take part in a pregame workout with the parent club. And after a couple of days there, he’d be ready to head to his first pro assignment.

Vanderbilt’s sweep in Illinois in the Super Regional means that the defending College World Series champions are headed back to Omaha. Vandy plays Cal St. Fullerton this Sunday (6/14), and their second game will be against either LSU or TCU on Tuesday (6/16). Let’s say the Commodores went two-and-out. That’d give him exactly one week to sign his contract, be poked by docs and feted with praise in Arizona, and report to Portland for the Hops’ home opener on Tue 6/23. (If he is indeed assigned here.)

Unlikely, at best, right? Slightly likelier is a debut date of Wed 6/24 or Thu 6/25. (Note: unlike pitchers — such as Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair in 2013 — position players don’t have to go through an extended throwing program before making their pro debuts. Presumably, Swanson could show up and play that day or the next.)

If Vanderbilt wins at least one of their first two games in Omaha, they’ll play again on Thu 6/18 or Fri 6/19… and if they make it to the CWS best-of-three championship series, it’s possible their season gets extended to Wed 6/24.

Now back to the Hops. After their three-game opening homestand 6/23 to 6/25, Hillsboro heads north of the border to Vancouver B.C. for a five-game series from June 26-30. (Another aside, this one to Dansby Swanson and his family if they happen to be reading this: if you don’t have a passport, fill out the paperwork now and see if you can get one expedited!)

I digress.

It’s also improbable, though certainly possible, that the D-backs could send Swanson to make his debut with the Hops while they’re in Canada. What is likelier—and, all things considered, the likeliest possibility of all—is that if Dansby Swanson gets assigned to Hillsboro, he would play his first game at Ron Tonkin Field during the second homestand of the year.

So get your tickets for the July 1-3 series at home against Eugene.

Again, I’m shootin’ from the hip with all this speculation. Swanson may not sign right away. He may take extra time in Arizona once he does. Or he may not be assigned to Hillsboro at all.

But it’s fun to take a stab at it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: