Logan O’Hoppe, the Angels’ No. 1 prospect, made his major league debut Wednesday in a 4-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. After dominating with the Angels’ double-A team this summer, he was put on the taxi squad early Tuesday and called up not even 24 hours later.
The highly touted catcher was tested immediately.
Behind the plate for starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen, O’Hoppe twice did not act fast enough as A’s runners stole second base.
In the first inning, with runners at the corners, Seth Brown took off from first. O’Hoppe popped up from his crouch but instead of throwing he looked toward third.
In the fifth inning, Tony Kemp broke for second and as O’Hoppe cocked his arm back, he dropped the ball behind him.
Rookie slip-ups, to be sure. But overall, his debut as a big league catcher was a success.
At the plate, there were some nerves. In his first at-bat, O’Hoppe swung and missed the first two pitches from A’s starter Adrian Martinez, both sliders, but wasn’t fooled on the next two, a sinker then a changeup. The sixth pitch of the at-bat, another sinker, O’Hoppe jumped on for a single to center, his first major league hit. He grounded out and struck out swinging in his next two at-bats.
Most importantly, he helped Lorenzen and four relievers limit the A’s to five hits, and home runs by Mike Trout and Taylor Ward highlighted the Angels’ third win in a row.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the past day or so,” O’Hoppe said before the game, “and the thing I’m most proud of is that all my life I’ve worked to get here to prove the people I love right. I’ve always been motivated to keep those people believing in me and proving them right.”
Those people he loves most had a pretty good seat for that first hit, in the second row behind the first base dugout. He made them proud long before he waved to the Angel Stadium crowd after getting that first hit.
“People say that they would like to do this someday, but to actually do this is extraordinary,” Logan’s mother, Angela, said. “And he just willed it to be by always doing it the right way and I’m so proud of him.”
O’Hoppe’s family reflects on his baseball journey
As far back as O’Hoppe and his family remember, he has loved baseball.
He remembered being a child, hitting off a plastic tee in the backyard of his family’s home in Sayville, N.Y. “And dad would pitch to me after he cut the grass,” he said before the game. “That sounds cliche, but it’s true.”
His mother remembered the 2-year-old boy who would fall asleep with his bat. “And then it’s his first tee-ball game and then it’s his first [Little League] home run,” she added. And there was always one rule in particular O’Hoppe’s parents had: “Play with class or don’t play at all.”
O’Hoppe, now 22, was told Tuesday night that he would make his debut Wednesday. In that instant, his baseball life leading up to that point played out in a series of happy memories in his mind.
“It’s funny, I haven’t thought about my minor league career a lot these past couple days; I thought about those moments the most,” he said before the game.
O’Hoppe had been in the Phillies’ minor league system until this summer, when he was part of a deadline trade that sent Brandon Marsh to Philadelphia. In the 32 games he played in double-A Rocket City, O’Hoppe logged 32 hits, scored 25 runs, drove in 34 runs and had a 1.104 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
O’Hoppe — who was drafted No. 677 overall out of St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, N.Y. by the Phillies in 2018 — also kept in mind all the people who helped him get to this moment, some of whom made the trip to Anaheim.
His parents booked flights within hours of learning he was scheduled to make his debut. They arrived at Angel Stadium before the gates opened at 5 p.m. His twin sister, Mel, flew in Tuesday to see him in his Angels uniform. Former coaches and friends also showed up for his debut.
Joining them was a contingent of more than 15 people including family friends, former coaches like his old catching coach Tom Downey and high school coaches Casey and Ronny McKay, and some of O’Hoppe’s friends.
Welcome back, Rendon
Third baseman Anthony Rendon was reinstated from the injured list Wednesday and began his five-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the Seattle Mariners.
With seven games remaining, Rendon will have the opportunity to return to the lineup before the season ends.
Before being reinstated, Rendon completed his second day of taking live pitches from Angels minor leaguers.
“I was gonna push myself to try to come back this year in order to work but if it didn’t, that’s fine,” said Rendon, who didn’t want to end the season on the injured list for a second season in a row. “I didn’t want to leave anything behind, saying ‘Oh, I could have kind of got activated.’ I wanted to make sure that I gave myself every opportunity.”
He also credited Kurt Suzuki, his longtime teammate who plans to retire after this season, for motivating him to continue working hard.