CLEARWATER, Fla. — For Logan O’Hoppe, it was just another day at the office. Well, kind of sort of.
O’Hoppe sets up shop every day behind home plate as a catcher in the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization, but this day was going to be very different. The 19-year-old second-year pro was one of three farmhands to catch in a simulated game at Robin Roberts Field on March 6 for the Phillies’ newly acquired $300 million man, Bryce Harper.
“I wasn’t numb that he was standing in the box,” O’Hoppe said. “It was two guys at work. Of course, someone of his stature takes it to the next level.”
O’Hoppe said Harper said hello when he got into the box and then went to work. Harper was seeing live pitching for the first time in spring training after signing his 13-year contract.
“I was taught at a young age to never be starstruck,” O’Hoppe said. “I was no fanboy back there. I was out there getting my work in. Every time I’m on the field is an opportunity for me to improve on something in my game. But it was very cool to be in that situation. I think back, and it was only 10 months ago that I was taking tests at St. John the Baptist High School. And now my job has carried me into a memorable situation.”
O’Hoppe had a bird’s-eye view of Harper’s workout. He rotated with two other catching prospects, Rodolfo Duran and Colby Finch, as Harper faced righthanded minor-leaguers Gustavo Armas, Alejandro Requena, Addison Russ, Jose Taveras and Trevor Bettencourt. Harper drove the first pitch from Armas for a home run.
O’Hoppe, who caught Taveras, said a gesture by Harper left an indelible impression on him.
“One of our pitchers fell behind 2-0 in the count and Bryce stopped the at-bat and walked out to the mound to talk to him,” O’Hoppe said. “He took the time to go out and tell a younger pitcher he was tipping his pitches. I thought that’s what a leader does. He shared knowledge to help a younger teammate. That’s really cool.”