Cincinnati Reds Top Prospects: TJ Hopkins Doug Gray February 6, 2020 5 Comments When the 2019 season began for TJ Hopkins he was entering his senior season for South Carolina and looking to make up for some lost time due to injury in his junior campaign. He went out and hit .285/.363/.519 for the Gamecocks – stealing 18 bases along the way. That performance led to the Cincinnati Reds selecting the outfielder in the 9th round of the draft. The first assignment as a professional for TJ Hopkins was to head to Billings where he joined the Mustangs to begin the season. The first two weeks of his pro career didn’t exactly go as well as he likely had hoped. In June he played in nine games and went 6-30 (.200) with just one extra-base hit. He did draw seven walks with just nine strikeouts, but the hits didn’t seem to find the grass as he posted a .200/.342/.233 line for the month in 40 plate appearances. When July rolled around, things picked up for Hopkins. In the first two weeks of the month he went 8-26 (.308) with just five strikeouts in eight games. From July 17th through the 21st he went 0-10 in a 3-game stretch, but then turned things up to 11 the rest of the month. Over the last nine games of July he would hit .432 with two triples and three home runs, racking up multiple hits in six of those games. In his 80 plate appearances during July he would hit .329/.388/.548 with seven extra-base hits, six steals, five walks, and 16 strikeouts. The hot hitting carried forward into August for TJ Hopkins. In the first seven games he went out and hit .393, going 11-28 with three more extra-base hits. But he would go into a slump over the next nine days, going just 4-33 (.121). He made his hits count in that span, with a double and two home runs – but little else came through. In the final 10 games of the year he would only go hitless in one of them, but only one of them had multiple hits in it as he would go just 9-38 (.237) in the span. After the hot start, over his final 25 games from the start of August through the end of the regular season he hit just .242/.287/.394 in 108 plate appearances. He did pick up another five stolen bases over the last five weeks of the year. For all 2019 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason). TJ Hopkins Spray Chart TJ Hopkins Scouting Report Position: OF | B/T: R/R Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 195 lbs | Drafted: 9th Round, 2019 Born: January 16, 1997 Hitting | His hit tool is a little below average, but may play up a little bit due to his speed and ability to gain a few additional infield hits. Power | He has at least average raw power, with one report noting above-average raw power. Running | He’s a plus runner. Defense | He’s a good defender who can play all three spots in the outfield. Arm | His arm is at least average. TJ Hopkins didn’t jump off of the stats page in his debut. He was roughly league average with regards to his hitting, but added some value on the bases by going 12-for-14 in stolen base attempts. There were some strong weeks at the plate, but some slumps mixed in there as well. Looking at his spray chart we can see that Hopkins can use the entire field. In fact, we saw him go the opposite way a lot more than he pulled the ball in his debut. Pulling the ball a little bit more will likely help him tap into his power a bit more – but he did show good pop the other way with Billings. He showed big splits in his debut, with an OPS against lefties being 441 points higher than it was against righties – something he’ll need to work on improving as he moves up the ladder. Defensively, TJ Hopkins has the speed to play in center and the arm to play in right. For obvious reasons, being able to play center would bring a lot more value but if he’s blocked there the option is there to play right if his bat continues to develop. Overall there are things to like from TJ Hopkins. In his debut he had a solid walk rate, a solid strikeout rate, showed good abilities on the bases, and there’s tools to grow into. He just turned 23, so he’ll be a guy who is going to need to move a little quicker than some other players from his draft class – but the pieces are there for a solid player in the future if he can develop some of those tools moving forward. Longest Home Run of the Year 460 feet on August 20th. Interesting Stat on TJ Hopkins He absolutely annihilated left-handed pitching in his debut, hitting .389/.438/.648 in 64 plate appearanecs. He did struggle against right-handed pitching, though, hittin gjust .223/.290/.345 in 164 plate appearances. This article was first sent out to those who support the site over on Patreon. Early access is one of the perks that you could get be joining up as a Patron and supporting the work done here at RedsMinorLeagues.com. Share this:FacebookTwitterRedditPocket 5 Responses James K February 6, 2020 Thanks for this post. I especially appreciate info about players the Reds drafted last year, because I know the least about them. Colorado Red February 6, 2020 Long way today, and might have platoon written all over him. But that is not always a bad thing. Tom February 6, 2020 460 feet is getting it done. Power & speed for ya. Simon Cowell February 6, 2020 This is one those guys that makes you understand MLB’s decision to reduce the size of the minors. He’ll never see the majors. Big Ed February 7, 2020 I doubt he will make it, either, but he doesn’t seem to me to be a good example of the guy that MLB is trying to downsize. He has pretty good skills, and apparently maturity, to be a serviceable “organizational” player that provides the competition for the true prospects to play against. Unlike the NBA and NFL, baseball has to pay for most of its own development. Hopkins is the equivalent of a decent college-level linebacker at a place like Missouri or Kentucky or Indiana who supplies the competition for the guys who have a plausible shot at the NFL. The difference is that the Reds have to pay him, as opposed to Indiana or Kentucky “paying” him. But it is a necessary expense. I don’t disagree that it may make business sense to eliminate a lot of development costs (i.e., fringe players), but I just don’t think Hopkins is a good example of it. He could get to High A or AA easy enough and do a serviceable job. And, every now and then, one of these guys turns out to be better than they thought. Or they at least become baseball lifers and coach or scout or become Caleb Cothams. It never hurts any business to have good people working for them at all levels.