Watching Zach Coppola play this season for the Clearwater Threshers reminds me of the late, great Phillies Hall of Famer and legendary announcer Richie Ashburn.
They both hail from the Midwest about 250 miles apart by cart. Zach comes from Des Moines, Iowa and Richie came from Tilden, Nebraska. Both similar in build and at 5’10” in height. They both hit left-handed and throw right-handed. They both hit over .300 and their OBP is higher than their slugging percent. Zach has hit one homer in his three seasons in the minors Watch HERE. Richie hit 29 homers over his 15 year major league career.
They both make things happen with a catch or throw from the outfield and on the bases by scoring a key run or preventing a run from scoring with a great catch or throw.
For Ashburn, it was throwing out a Dodger at the plate in the last game of the 1950 regular season to preserve a 1–1 tie and set the stage for Dick Sisler’s pennant-clinching home run for the Whiz Kids.
For Coppola, it was using his speed to move along the bases in Sunday’s game against the St. Lucie Mets by hitting a single, moving to second on a passed ball, to third on a force out and scoring the only run in the game on another passed ball in Clearwater’s 1-0 win.
In Coppola’s last ten games, he has hit over .400 and moved into the top five in batting average in all of Advanced A baseball, now hitting .346. He is second in batting average in the Florida State league trailing the leader by only five points. Ashburn was the National League batting champion for the Phillies in 1955 hitting .338 and in 1958 hitting .350.
In all likelihood, Coppola will be a Florida State League All Star in theJune 17th game in Lakeland. Ashburn was a five time National League All-Star.
Every time I watch Zach Coppola play, I see him being the next Richie Ashburn leading off for the Phillies and getting them to another pennant.