Drew Lugbauer, Logan O'Hoppe Provide Power For Peoria
MESA, Ariz. — If things had gone according to plan, Drew Lugbauer might still be taking some time to unwind after one of the weirdest—albeit most welcomed—seasons in minor league history. He wasn't on the initial list of players the Braves selected to get more reps in the Arizona Fall League, but got the call in the early portion of the six-week season to replace Shea Langeliers, who was selected to the Braves' playoff taxi squad.
So Lugbauer packed his things, left vacation in Hawaii and took Langeliers' place on the Peoria Javelinas roster. Since then, he's mashed. Over the past week the hulking Michigan alum, whom the Braves selected in the 11th round of the 2017 draft, has been on fire. In 10 games overall, he's hitting .441/.548/.882 with five home runs. His home run total puts him two behind league leader Nelson Velazquez, who has played in nine more games.
Lugbauer's home runs are not solely to one side of the park, either. Two of his three home runs in November have gone to the opposite field, including a laser to left field off of Dodgers top pitching prospect Bobby Miller on Monday. Lugbauer has the brute strength to bash baseballs from line to line, and his 18 home runs with Double-A Mississippi tied him for the league lead.
In Arizona, Lugbauer is working on ways to help himself get to his power more often.
"I'm definitely learning how pitchers are attacking me and kind of sticking to my strengths rather than their strengths," he said. "I'm trying to find my pitch to hit and do whatever I can to you know, score runs and help the team win."
Lugbauer isn't the only New Yorker showing off his offensive prowess in the desert. Logan O'Hoppe, a Phillies catching prospect and Lugbauer's teammate with Peoria, has also been mighty impressive over the first two thirds of the AFL season. Both players went deep on Monday, with O'Hoppe's blast coming against a 97 mph fastball that he redirected over the wall just to the left of dead-center field in Peoria.
The home run was O'Hoppe's second of the AFL, part of a stellar .310/.455/.538 slash line he's produced through 16 games. The AFL stretch is an extension of O'Hoppe's excellent regular season, in which he advanced from High-A Jersey Shore to Triple-A Lehigh Valley at just 21 years old.
One of O'Hoppe's primary goals this AFL is to improve his swing decisions. By doing that, he hopes to cut down on the part of the game he hates the most.
"To be honest with you, man, I just got sick and tired and striking out," O'Hoppe said. ". . . (Phillies coach) Mike Calitri is here and he's helped me a lot with that just (by using the) slider machine and the fastball machine and things like that. You run through different drills and try to make it as game-like as you can because it's hard to create reps outside of the game. The game's, I think, the best way to develop and adjust, but luckily (Calitri's) been really really great with helping me with that."
O'Hoppe also showed a ton of toughness on the defensive side as well on Monday. After taking a foul ball off of a very sensitive area and staying down for a few minutes, he recovered to stay in the game. A few innings later, he made a stellar, sliding catch on a foul pop up to the backstop.
Both of Peoria's native New Yorkers showed big-time power on Monday, and both have the look of potential assets for their big league clubs over the next couple of seasons.