The Hillsboro Hops wrapped up the 2021 season with an 8-2 loss to the Vancouver Canadians on Sunday afternoon at Ron Tonkin Field. Hillsboro had won the first four games of the rain-shortened five-game series. The Hops finished the year with a record of 52-60, and their league record of
The Hillsboro Hops wrapped up the 2021 season with an 8-2 loss to the Vancouver Canadians on Sunday afternoon at Ron Tonkin Field. Hillsboro had won the first four games of the rain-shortened five-game series. The Hops finished the year with a record of 52-60, and their league record of consecutive playoff appearances was snapped at six.
Yet, there were plenty of positives in 2021. To wit:
There WAS a 2021: Just the fact there was a baseball season this year was a positive. Capacity at the beginning of the season was limited to 15%. This grew, until 100% capacity was allowed by early July. Mask mandates came and went, but everyone seemed happy that we simply had baseball in Hillsboro.
From the 'Boro to the Show (in 2021): RHP Luis Frias began 2021 with the Hops, featuring an ERA of 0.82 in two starts. He advanced to Double-A in May (and tossed a no-hitter while there), Triple-A in August, and in September made his major-league debut. He became the first Hop to advance all the way to the major leagues in the same season that he played for Hillsboro.
From the 'Boro to the Show (since 2013): When Frias appeared in a game for the Arizona Diamondbacks, he became the 27th former Hop to play in the major leagues. Five of those 27 made their major league debuts this year: SS Geraldo Perdomo, RHP Matt Peacock, 3B Drew Ellis, OF Jake McCarthy and Frias.
From the 'Boro to the Show (in future years): The Hops' starting rotation at the beginning of the year featured several pitchers who could be impact players in the major leagues. Besides Frias, right-handers Bryce Jarvis, Drey Jameson, Ryne Nelson and Matt Tabor all began the season in Hillsboro's starting rotation, and all were elevated to Double-A by the end of June. (Along with Frias, Tabor, LHP Kenny Hernandez and RHP Mitchell Stumpo also advanced from Hillsboro to Triple-A. And Tabor joined Frias in tossing a no-hitter at Double-A.) Fellow RHP Brandon Pfaadt (pronounced "fought") joined the Hops rotation from Low-A in June (replacing Jarvis), and by mid-August was in Double-A himself. Any of those players could see big-league time soon.
Bottom line: if Portland-area fans want to see a multitude of future major leaguers, Ron Tonkin Field is the only place to do it.
The Hops Steal and "Break" the Rule: Hillsboro finished second in all of minor-league baseball (there are 120 teams) with 231 stolen bases. They had so much success that Hops manager Vince Harrison liked to say they "broke" the new rule.
At the beginning of the season, Major League Baseball instituted an experimental rule across the three High-A Leagues that pitchers had to step off the rubber before making a pickoff throw. No more quick spin moves for right-handers, no more lift-the-right-leg-and-step-to-first move for left-handers, and no more inside pickoffs to second base. Hillsboro had lots of speed this year, and they exploited this rule like no one else. They even tied a league record by stealing 11 bases in one game. More than once they stole six bases in an inning.
At the season's halfway point, MLB discontinued the rule across all three High-A leagues.
Master of the Basepaths: Hillsboro Hops catcher Nick Dalesandro had the highest CS rate in the High-A West League. He nailed 44% of base-stealers (22x50), 10% better than the next-best catcher.
Dalesandro also led the league in stolen bases. He swiped 33. That's good, right?
(Baseball America named Dalesandro the best defensive catcher in the league. And shortstop Blaze Alexander was rated to have the league's best infield arm.)
200 Days: The 2022 Hillsboro Hops season begins in 200 days, on Friday, April 8th, against the Tri-City Dust Devils at Ron Tonkin Field.