Hops hurting after dropping four of six to last place Tri-City
In the wake of a week in which his team lost four out of six games to the league's last-place team, you'd think Hops manager Vince Harrison would have little good to say.
But for a coach whose primary job consists of teaching and developing for the future, there's always an upside.
"We had some guys do some good things this week," Harrison said. "Sure, we'd like to win some more games, but I saw some guys take some good steps this week."
One of those guys was pitcher Drey Jameson, who started two games against Tri-City. The second-year pro from Ball State University and 34th overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft made big strides in his two appearances, showing Harrison and pitching coach Shane Loux a level they had yet to see from the talented 23-year-old.
"He took some huge steps," Harrison said. "He has electric stuff, but what he showed us this week was his ability to mix pitches and be able to get more into that mode of a pitcher versus a thrower."
Jameson allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out six in 4 1/3 innings of work July 6, but he stepped up further in his start July 11, throwing six innings and giving up just a single run on five hits while striking out five.
Harrison likes to see that maturation and believes it might be a "light bulb" moment for the young flamethrower.
"It was really, really exciting for all of us just to see what he can be," the manager said. "He's showing he's learning how to work his way around hitters and use his skills, not just his arm. But he's still got 99 (mph) in his back pocket, which is a pretty good luxury."
Harrison also pointed to outfielders Dominic Canzone and Eduardo Diaz and infielder Tristan English as guys who have shown some signs of life at the plate of late. He said all three, along with a few others, have been hitting the ball hard, but at some point, they're going to need some of those balls to drop and a few more of those hitters to get hot in order to have it show up in the win-loss column.
"There are a lot of guys making baby steps, but noboby really putting it together," Harrison said. "Hopefully we can get a few of them to get going at the same time."
Baseball is a tough game, and hitting is probably the game's toughest part. Oftentimes batters will hit the ball hard, only to have that hard-hit ball go directly at a defender who makes the play. Harrison said that's the lesser of two evils, but in the end, it's about hitting it where they ain't, and that in itself is a valuable skill.
"I think this level is where guys first realize that just because you hit it hard doesn't mean it's a hit," Harrison said. "Yes, it's a step in the right direction, but often the situation will tell you where and how to hit it. Making outs is fine, but it's about the type of outs we're making, and when we're making them."
Aside from losing the series to Tri-City, the Hops also lost right-handed pitcher Conor Grammes for the season to a shoulder injury. The 23-year-old was already on the seven-day injured list after leaving his last start (June 29) with shoulder soreness, but he was placed on the 60-day injured list July 9, and Harrison said he's done for the season.
Hillsboro returns home to face the Vancouver Canadians as part of a six-game set this week.
High-A West Standings
Tri-City 3, Hillsboro 2
Hillsboro 9, Tri-City 7
Tri-City 8, Hillsboro 3
Hillsboro 5, Tri-City 2
Tri-City 8, Hillsboro 6
Tri-City 4, Hillsboro 3
C Nick Dalesandro hit .385 with two RBI and two runs scored over five games against the Dust Devils this past week.
LF Dominic Canzone continued his hot hitting from the previous week, batting .33 with a homerun, two RBI, and reaching base at a .455 clip. The left fielder has tallied 11 hits over his last 10 games played.
P Drey Jameson started two games for the Hops this past week, allowing just two runs while striking out 11 and walking just two in 10 1/3 innings of work.
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