The minor league baseball season was officially canceled Tuesday, June 30.
But some familiar faces for Hillsboro Hops fans will have an opportunity to play on baseball's biggest stage — if the planned 2020 MLB season moves forward.
Several prospects who played for the Hillsboro Hops last year are expected to be in camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Hops' major league affiliate.
Pitcher Luis Frías started 10 games for Hillsboro in 2019 before earning a midseason promotion to the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League.
Not a top prospect within the Diamondbacks organization prior to the season, Frías opened some eyes last year with a 1.99 ERA in Hillsboro and is now considered among Arizona's best pitching prospects. He will train with the major league team this month and could be available to pitch for the Diamondbacks in an actual game, if the planned 60-game major league season goes forward despite the pandemic.
Outfielder Corbin Carroll and pitchers Tommy Henry and Blake Walston are making the jump directly from the Hops roster to the Diamondbacks' player pool. All three were drafted in 2019 — Carroll out of Lakeside High School in Seattle, Henry out of the University of Michigan, and Walston out of New Hanover High School in North Carolina.
Carroll is listed as the 89th-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com.
Other former Hops invited to camp include:
• Josh Green, who appeared in 25 games out of the Hops' bullpen in 2018 and earned 11 saves that season. He divided the 2019 season between the High-A Visalia Rawhide and the Double-A Jackson Generals.
• Geraldo Perdomo, who appeared in 30 games and served as the Hops' starting shortstop in 2018. He spent last year with Low-A Kane County and High-A Visalia. He rates as the 82nd-best overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.
• Pavin Smith, who appeared in 51 games for the Hops in 2017, when he was the Diamondbacks' top draft pick out of the University of Virginia. A first baseman, Smith hit his first professional home run in a playoff game against the Eugene Emeralds that September. He's since played for High-A Visalia and Double-A Jackson.
• Riley Smith, who started eight games on the mound for Hillsboro in 2017. He's since advanced as high as the Triple-A Reno Aces, one step from the major leagues.
• Daulton Varsho, who appeared in 50 games for the Hops in 2017 as their primary catcher and sometime designated hitter. Varsho went on to play for High-A Visalia and Double-A Jackson. He is currently ranked as the 76th-best overall prospect in baseball by MLB.com.
They join Hops alumni Taylor Clarke (13 pitching appearances in 2015), Kevin Cron (31 games in 2014), Jon Duplantier (one pitching appearance in 2016), Kevin Ginkel (38 pitching appearances across 2016 and 2017), James Sherfy (nine pitching appearances in 2013), and Alex Young (six pitching appearances in 2015), who are on Arizona's major league roster.
Absent from the Diamondbacks' initial player pool is another ex-Hop, Bo Takahashi, who started 10 games for Hillsboro in 2016. Takahashi was added to the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster in 2018 but has yet to make his major league debut.
With the major league season shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic and the minor league season canceled, the player pool is a new addition to the rules this year to give major league teams a group of players from which they can draw if major league players are injured, suspended or test positive for the virus.
Players can be removed from, or added to, the player pool during the three-week "summer camp" expected to start this week, which leads up to Opening Day on July 23. The player pool can also be modified after the season starts.
The season could still be called off or suspended if conditions worsen.
By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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