O’Hoppe soaks up info from Borders

When he catches, Logan O’Hoppe enjoys picking Pat Borders’ brain throughout the game. He likes to talk about pitch sequencing, reading hitters’ swings, and how Borders would have attacked certain hitters during his Major League career.

When the 19-year-old has a day off, he likes to pick Pat Borders’ brain throughout the game. He likes to further dissect what the other catchers on his team are doing. He likes to talk about pitch sequencing, reading hitters’ swings, and how Borders would have attacked certain hitters during his Major League career.

O’Hoppe soaks up any information he can from the Williamsport Crosscutters’ manager who played more than 1,000 Major League games at catcher. He’s a young player who views his biggest priority as having control over a pitching staff. And that’s coming from a player who hit .367 over 34 games in the Gulf Coast League last summer.

“Logan is a super intense learner,” Borders said at the Cutters’ annual media day Wednesday. “He wants to learn all the time. He takes everything you say to heart and runs with it.”

“A guy with his background and everything he’s been through, conversations with him are ones where you shut your mouth and open your ears,” O’Hoppe said. “I’ve learned a lot and the way he thinks is pretty impressive.”

O’Hoppe isn’t a high-round draft choice. He’s the latest in a line of late-round picks out of Long Island, New York, which have already produced in the Philadelphia Phillies system. O’Hoppe was selected in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft, and his $215,000 signing bonus was enough to buy him out of his commitment to East Carolina University.

The Phillies have committed $600,000 to Long Island products in drafts from 2015 to 2017, all of which were signed by scout Alex Agostino. Those players include former Crosscutter pitcher Kyle Young (22nd round in 2016), and pitchers Nick Fanti (31st round in 2015) and Ben Brown (33rd round in 2017).

But O’Hoppe may be the most intriguing of them all. He’s an advanced catching prospect who already has a great feel for how to handle a pitching staff and the mechanics behind the plate. His .943 OPS (on-base plus slugging) in the GCL as an 18-year-old was encouraging from an offensive standpoint.

And as Borders said Wednesday, O’Hoppe is thirsty for knowledge. He wants to know and absorb everything he can. He wants different ways to think about the game. He wants to be the one in control of a pitching staff and of a defense.

“This has all been pretty eye-opening,” O’Hoppe said. “Being in my second year, talking with Pat shows me how much I still don’t know about the game and I’m looking forward to learning more.”

After spending the better part of the last calendar year in Florida both with the GCL Phillies West and during extended spring training, O’Hoppe is happy to get back to the northeast. His family will be in attendance tonight when the Crosscutters’ open the season against the State College Spikes at Bowman Field.

He wasn’t sure if this was the path he was going to take when the Phillies drafted him last June. His dream had always been to play baseball at East Carolina. He committed to play there in October of his junior year at St. John the Baptist High School. His father and uncle both attended East Carolina.

So when the Phillies selected O’Hoppe in the draft, even as late as they did, it left him with a difficult decision to make. But after electing to being his time as a professional, he hasn’t once looked back wondering if it was the right decision.

“It’s one of those things that happens and you know it’s the right choice right away,” O’Hoppe said. “Things also had changed in my relationship with college and I felt I was ready to start my pro career. I have zero regrets about my decision and I’m ready to go.”

One of the allures of playing in the Phillies organization was their affiliates’ proximity to his home in New York. It’s going to give his family the opportunity to watch him throughout his time in the system, such as this weekend. Even though both his mom and dad have been to Clearwater in recent weeks to see him, he hasn’t seen them both at length in quite some time. It provides him a sense of home knowing that he’ll be close enough to have his family visit.

Now all that’s left is for him to go out and continue to play the way he has and continue to learn about the game. He’s always been a catcher since he first took a spot behind the plate at 9-years-old. He fell in love with the position because of the control he could have on the game and the mental side which goes with it.

Even when he hit a growth spurt in high school which shot him up to 6-foot-2, he never considered switching positions. Catching has become his home. He was the Catholic High School Athletic Association Player of the Year in 2018 when he won the the Gold Glove from Rawlings as the top defensive high school catcher in the country.

He threw out nine of 27 potential basestealers against him last summer in the GCL. That came after allowing just three stolen bases during the high school season.

“Being involved with every pitch is a big factor of why I love catching,” O’Hoppe said. “Just learning about the position and helping control the guys on the mound really pulled me in. It’s something I’ve loved since I was nine.”

And now he’s getting the opportunity to grow playing as a professional. He gets to spend considerable time with his manager who was a World Series MVP eight years before O’Hoppe was born.

Borders makes himself approachable to his players in order so they can feel free to ask the questions they want. It’s allowed O’Hoppe to feel comfortable picking Borders’ brain about any and everything whether he’s playing that day or not.

“He’ll never make you feel dumb or unintelligent about anything,” O’Hoppe said. “He’ll walk you through everything and he’s big on making things your own as well. So he’ll give his suggestion and let you go from there. I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”

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