Some old favorites will star on a new-look Hillsboro Hops team.
The High-A minor league baseball team unveiled its Opening Day roster on Saturday, May 1. The roster includes Corbin Carroll, Luis Frias, Drey Jameson, Ryne Nelson and several others who have previously played for the Hops.
The full roster:
• Pitchers (14): Luis Frias, Kenny Hernandez, Yaramil Hiraldo, Denson Hull, Drey Jameson, Bryce Jarvis, Joe Jones, Kai-Wei Lin, Ryne Nelson, Wesley Rodriguez, Nick Snyder, Kyler Stout, Matt Tabor, Blake Workman
• Catchers (3): Axel Andueza, Nick Dalesandro, Luvin Valbuena
• Infielders (7): Blaze Alexander, Spencer Brickhouse, Cam Coursey, Alexander Hernández, Buddy Kennedy, Ricky Martinez, Leodany Pérez
• Outfielders (3): Dom Canzone, Corbin Carroll, Tra Holmes
Frias, Hiraldo, Jameson, Nelson, Snyder, Dalesandro, Martinez, Canzone and Carroll played for the Hops in 2019.
Hernandez, Lin, Rodriguez, Stout, Tabor, Kennedy and Holmes played for the Hops in 2018.
Tuesday, May 4, will be the first game action for the Hops at the High-A level. The team previously played at the Class A Short Season level, a less prestigious level with a lower caliber of play. That level was eliminated in an overhaul of minor league baseball that took place over the winter, and the Hops were promoted to High-A baseball.
The Hops were league champions in the Northwest League in 2019. They did not play in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, they will play as part of a circuit being called High-A West, which includes five other teams from the former Northwest League.
The Hops' roster, like in every prior season, is made up of young players in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. The Diamondbacks are Hillsboro's parent club at the major league level, supplying the Hops with on-field talent and personnel. While the Hops aim to play entertaining and winning baseball — in fact, they have the best win-loss record in all of minor league baseball since coming to Hillsboro in 2013 — their role within the Diamondbacks system is also to develop prospects, with the goal of eventually seeing them play in the major leagues. At the minor league level, players can work on plate discipline, baserunning, pitch command and other skills that will need to be sharp for them to succeed in the major leagues.
Among former Hops who have gone onto MLB careers are Dansby Swanson, who was traded after playing at Hillsboro in 2015 and is now the primary shortstop for the Atlanta Braves; Brad Keller, a 2014 Hops pitcher who has become a staple of the Kansas City Royals' starting rotation; and Pavin Smith, who played first base for the Hops in 2017 and is now mainly an outfielder for the Diamondbacks.
The 2021 Hops roster includes a number of Arizona's most noteworthy prospects as ranked by MLB.com. Carroll is ranked as the Diamondbacks' top overall prospect. Jarvis and Frias rank eighth and ninth respectively in the Diamondbacks organization. Alexander is 17th, Nelson is 19th, Jameson is 21st and Tabor is 23rd.
The Hops will open their 2021 season by hosting the Everett AquaSox, a farm team of the Seattle Mariners, at Ron Tonkin Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.
The season is expected to run for 120 games. At the old Class A Short Season level, the regular season was 76 games long.
At least for the beginning of the season, Ron Tonkin Field will also pull double duty as the temporary home of the Vancouver Canadians, a league rival of the Hops who are unable to play at their home ballpark in Vancouver, British Columbia, due to travel restrictions.
By Mark Miller
Editor-in-Chief, Washington and Columbia counties
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