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Hoppy in the perfect situation for a fresh start

August 2, 2012 - Mitch Rupert

It was a long couple of weeks for Kyle Hoppy. It’s been engrained in him since he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles to play baseball every day.

So when he was released on June 13 by the team that drafted him in the 28th round in 2009, there was a lot of sitting around waiting for another chance. He found one with a familiar face with the Philadelphia Phillies. Joe Jordan, the Phillies’ director of player development, was with the Orioles organization before replacing Chuck Lamar during the offseason.

Hoppy called the situation he’s landed in with the Phillies and the Williamsport Crosscutters a perfect situation. He’s never had the opportunity to play every day like he’s had since being assigned to the Cutters on July 24.

In more than three seasons playing in the Orioles organization, the outfielder out of Orchard Park High School near Buffalo has never played more than 46 games in a season. He’s always been a part-time player.

Since signing with the Phillies, he’s been the team’s primary center fielder, playing every day once Brian Pointer was recalled to Lakewood. It’s an opportunity Hoppy is relishing as a fresh start in professional baseball.

“Just getting that chance to get out there and show what I can do and that I can play is something I really need right now,” Hoppy said after batting practice on Thursday. “I just feel like if I get my opportunity, I’ll give it 110 percent every day and I’m hoping I can get a lot of quality playing time and get some at-bats.”

Hoppy had his choice of sports he wanted to play coming out of Orchard Park. He was an all-state quarterback who led his high school team to a state championship his senior year. He had accepted an offer to play football at Bucknell after receiving offers from a number of FCS schools.

Things changed, though, during the spring of his senior year when he went to spring training with his high school team. He began to get noticed by professional baseball scouts during that spring training. He was even given the choice by Bucknell to play baseball and football for the Bison, and he also had an offer to play baseball at a junior college in Florida.

But when he was selected by the Orioles in the 28th round in 2009, it was an offer he couldn’t pass up. He had always dreamed of playing in the big leagues and this was his opportunity to get a start on that path. He signed for $150,000 even as the 836th overall pick in the draft.

“That whole summer I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to go to Bucknell and wait a couple more years to see if I could get drafted again or try to play in the minors right away,” Hoppy said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wanted to take that. I know that I can always go back to college when my career is over, whenever that is. But I really wanted to go out there and give it a shot.”

What transpired for Hoppy in the Orioles system was three-plus years of struggling baseball. He has a career batting average of .171 and has never hit higher than the .216 he hit in 46 games with Aberdeen last year.

In seven games with the Cutters he’s hitting just .087 (2 for 23), but is about the only center fielder on the roster. Yan Carlos Olmo started the season playing center field, but struggled there defensively and has since been moved to right field where he is an every day player.

Hoppy is well aware the numbers he’s put up in his career have been less-than-stellar, but he’s never been in a position like where he knows he’s going to be in the lineup every day.

“I’m just getting settled here and getting used to the grind again,” Hoppy said. “It took a few days to get back into it and I was pretty tired, but I’m starting to get back in the groove and I’m looking forward to getting back into it for the next month.”

The 21-year old has always had the thought in the back of his mind to go back to playing football collegiately if baseball doesn’t work out. But it’s not a thought he’s ready to entertain just yet. He feels like he can still be a productive professional baseball player and he’s going to give it every chance he can to work out.

Despite the rough times he’s experienced in minor league baseball, he said he doesn’t regret the decision he’s made, even after being released by the Orioles in June.

“This has been a great learning experience,” Hoppy said. “I know it’s been a little bit tough the first few years, but I’m just going to keep pushing and I’m actually really glad I made this decision.”

MORGADO RELEASED: Former Williamsport Crosscutter pitcher Bryan Morgado was released by the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday after three injury-plagued seasons.

The left-handed reliever had been hampered by injuries to his throwing arm – although it was never anything serious – since being drafted in the fourth round out of the University of Tennessee in 2010. In two partial seasons with Williamsport in 2010 and 2011, Morgado 3-2 with a 4.09 ERA in 26 appearances.

Morgado always sported a fastball that seemed to jump out of his hand, and a slider that would fall off the table. But he often struggled to command both pitches. He averaged 5.4 walks per nine innings for his career, but also averaged better than a strikeout per inning over three seasons.

Former Crosscutter infielder Jeremy Barnes was also released earlier in the week. A former 11th-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Notre Dame, Barnes advanced as high as Class AA Reading. In four seasons in the Phillies’ system, Barnes hit .265 with 18 home runs and 146 RBIs in 334 games.


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