When Corpus Christi Hooks manager Joe Thon took his coach’s week off in late July, Joey Loperfido started a new trend in the clubhouse. The Hooks went on a winning streak under development coach Vincent Blue, who filled in for Thon during the Hooks’ away series in San Antonio.
Amidst a winning streak, Loperfido broke out headlines after each game. Making up newspapers to go along with it, he read “Thon’s on the hot seat, Vince Blue’s Hooks win sixth straight” from the fictional Corpus Chronicle. His fun nature is admired not only by his teammates but also by his coaches.
Thon took note of it, asking Loperfido for a headline after each victory moving forward. Following the Hooks’ 11-9 win over the Frisco RoughRiders on Sunday, Loperfido came up with the headline: “Sunday slug fest as Thon gets back in good graces with Corpus faithful.”
Thon had an alternative.
“I’ve got one for you: ‘Joey’s going to Triple-A,'” Thon said, as the clubhouse erupted in excitement.
This isn’t the first time Loperfido played under Thon. The two were together in Single-A Fayetteville for the start of the 2022 season, before Loperfido received a promotion to High-A Asheville in August.
“It’s been special,” Loperfido said. “It’s been pretty much (Thon), Blue, Matt (Jones), the strength coach — the same staff for the last two seasons. It’s rare to see that in the minors.”
Loperfido slashed .296/.392/.548 with 20 doubles and 19 home runs in 84 games for the Hooks. In his second full season, he believes he solidified the process at hand.
He contributed his smooth transition to Hooks hitting coach Bobby Bell, who is in his first season with the organization. Bell relates to his players. He brings a comedic side to coaching, texting Loperfido to “drop that wood, gang” after a hot night at the plate.
“(Bell) is so funny, so passionate,” Loperfido said. “He’s told me to control what I can control.”
Loperfido is now with a third hitting coach this season, joining Aaron Westlake in Sugar Land. Everyone in the organization is on the same page for every player, but there are still hurdles present when moving up a level.
“When you’re working day in and day out with a guy, it’s hard for them,” Loperfido said. “As a player, you’re trying to build great relationships as best as you can. For (coaches), they’re trying to formulate relationships but also trying to get a guy to trust them.”
Loperfido lives on versatility in the field, playing first base, second base and all three outfield positions with his most starts coming in center. When Loperfido made early mistakes in the field at second base, Thon reassured him those were growing pains that came with a new position.
“It’s still pretty fresh,” Loperfido said. “So I think just of that perspective.”
Loperfido made his second start for the Space Cowboys on Wednesday, playing center field. The lefty went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and a 105.5-mph single — tied for the Sugar Land’s second-hardest hit of the night.
Before Loperfido took to right field for his Triple-A debut Tuesday night, Michael Brantley turned to him and asked if he felt nervous. Loperfido, who experienced a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi in late April, said no, feeling more excitement than nerves.
“Well, you look really nervous,” Brantley chuckled.
Brantley started a major-league rehab assignment with the Space Cowboys on Tuesday. Loperfido is excited to have the veteran outfielder alongside his new teammates this week. The two both play the outfield and hit from the left side of the plate, offering Loperfido an outlet for questions as he continues his pursuit to the major leagues.