The Angels are selecting the contract of top catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe to the big leagues and designating outfielder Magneuris Sierra for assignment in a corresponding move, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link). O’Hoppe will start behind the plate for the Halos today in his MLB debut.
O’Hoppe, 22, was acquired in the swap that sent center fielder Brandon Marsh to the Phillies prior to the trade deadline. The former 23rd-round find immediately became the Angels’ top-ranked prospect, thanks to a meteoric rise through the minors in 2021-22. O’Hoppe opened the season with the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate and hit .275/.392/.496 with 15 homers through 316 plate appearances in that pitcher-friendly environment, but he’s been even better with the Halos’ Double-A club: .306/.473/.673 and 11 homers in 131 plate appearances. Currently, O’Hoppe is ranked as baseball’s No. 50 prospect at FanGraphs, No. 66 at MLB.com and No. 77 at Baseball America.
Strikeouts were an issue for O’Hoppe early in his minor league career, but he’s curbed those tendencies quite well, going from a 27.7% strikeout rate in 2019 to just a 16.6% clip in Double-A this season. That improved discipline is also made apparent by a huge 15.7% walk rate. He’s walked nearly as often this season (70 times) as he’s punched out (74). The improved approach has perhaps helped O’Hoppe tap into more power, as this year’s 26 long balls and .261 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) are career-highs by a wide margin. In fact, this year’s 26 homers are more than O’Hoppe had tallied in his combined professional career heading into the season (24).
Defensively, the aforementioned scouting reports tout O’Hoppe’s receiving skills, ability to block pitches in the dirt, accurate arm and quick release, calling him a potential everyday option behind the plate. With just a week of games left, it’ll be a brief cup of coffee for O’Hoppe. But the Angels would’ve needed to add him to the 40-man roster over the winter in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyhow, so they’ll now take the final few games of the season to take a look at a promising prospect they hope can be a foundational piece in the coming years.
O’Hoppe’s acquisition and quick rise to the Majors comes just six months into a three-year, $17.5MM extension signed by Max Stassi. The extension looked sensible enough for both parties back in March, as Stassi had long been a top-tier defender who looked to have had a late-blooming breakout at the plate when he hit .250/.333/.452 with the Angels in 2020-21. The 2022 season has been a nightmare for Stassi, though, as he’s slumped to a .182/.268/.298 output in 365 trips to the plate and seen his typically sky-high defensive marks dip to about league average.
The Angels still have Stassi signed at $7MM in each of the next two seasons, and a $500K buyout on a 2025 club option brings the total commitment to him to $14.5MM beyond the current campaign. That’ll make him a pricey backup if O’Hoppe indeed emerges as the starter, though it’s important to note that O’Hoppe still has just six career games in Triple-A — all coming late last season. It’s possible O’Hoppe will begin next season in Triple-A Salt Lake, while the Angels subsequently hope for a Stassi rebound that would give them a pair of quality options. However, it’s just as feasible that O’Hoppe unseats Stassi as the starter, and the Angels eventually look to get out from underneath the remainder of Stassi’s contract.
As for the present-day corresponding move, Sierra’s DFA comes on the heels of a .165/.200/.242 showing in 96 trips to the plate. Once a prospect of note himself, Sierra is among the game’s fastest players but has never produced enough with the bat to capitalize on his prodigious wheels. In 636 career plate appearances between the Cardinals, Marlins and Angels, he’s a .228/.273/.272 hitter. He’ll be placed on outright waivers or release waivers within the next couple of days and can become a minor league free agent at season’s end either way.