April 2011

Quick Friday Hits

Some quick hits today heading into the weekend – as the Cubs made a trio of roster moves at the AAA level involving former Boise Hawks.

Jay Jackson (’08), who has been in Extended Spring Training nursing an shoulder injury sustained late in camp, was assigned to the Iowa Cubs and tossed five innings to pick up a win in the 9-4 victory Thursday night against Albuquerque.  Also coming off the AAA disabled list was Welington Castillo (’06), who injured a thumb late in Spring Training and has been DHing and catching with the Daytona Cubs – and rejoined the I-Cubs.

Unfortunately, due to the numbers, a former Hawk, Jake Muyco (’05/’08), was released by the Cubs prior to Iowa’s game Thursday night.  The North Carolina State product struggled in his two outings this season, posting a 18.00 ERA.

On the flip-side, former Hawks pitcher Ryan Acosta (’07), who was released during the offseason by the Yankees organization, was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and is expected to begin in Advanced-A.

The first Independent League to start play this year is the Atlantic League, which will begin with a pair of former Hawks on their rosters – outfielder Chris Walker (’02/’03) with the York Revolution, and pitcher Carlos Vasquez (’02), with the Camden Riversharks.

Boise Hawks Alumni Report (April 19)

A total of 117 former Boise Hawks are currently on Major League baseball rosters, MLB affiliate rosters, or, in the case of former Hawk Micah Hoffpauir (’02), playing for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the Japanese League.  Of the group, 18 players are in the Big Leauges, 24 more are playing a the AAA level, 20 are currently at AA, 38 are at the Class A level (either Advanced-A or Low-A), with 18 more players still in their parent teams’ complex in Extended Spring Training.

The complete list can be viewed at the following link – HawksAlumni4-19-11.

Some notes on the list – two former Hawks sluggers, Ryan Harvey (’04) and Kyler Burke (’07/’08) are both being converted from outfielders to pitchers.  Most remember both for their long home runs, but both also had amazing outfield arms – rated among the tops in the Cubs organization at the time.  Harvey is in Florida at the Red Sox spring training facility, while Burke is at Fitch Park in Mesa working with Rick Tronerud and David Rosario.

Hot starts for former Hawks include Lou Montanez (’04), who has been a key cog in the Iowa Cubs line-up after being signed in the offseason after four years in the Orioles organization.  Montanez is hitting .375 and leading the I-Cubs with 12 RBI.  Two other arms of note – Rich Hill (’02/’03) has throwed eight-plus scoreless innings out of the pen for the Pawtucket Red Sox and may be the first call-up for Boston, while Andy Sisco (’02) has regained his form after numerous injuries sidelined him for three seasons – picking up two wins and tossing six scoreless innings for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees.

At AA – the Tennessee Smokies are unreal at the plate, led by former first-round picks Brett Jackson (’09), Ryan Flaherty (’08), and Josh Vitters (’07/’08).  Jackson is hitting .441 with a homer, seven RBI, and five stolen bases out of the lead-off spot, Flaherty is hitting .375 with a team-high three homers and 10 RBI, while Vitters is hitting .375 with two homers and 10 RBI.  On the mound, Trey McNutt (’09) has come off the disabled list after missing over a week with a blister – after tossing two-plus scoreless innings in his 2011 debut.

In Class-A, the knuckle-curve of Robert Whitenack (’09) has come of age, as the righty is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts in Daytona, being helped by the bat of Matt Cerda (’09), who is among the Florida State League leaders with a .405 batting average.  Also playing well for the D-Cubs is Jae-Hoon Ha (’09), hitting .375 with eight RBI.  At Peoria, Eric Jokisch (’10) has been dominant in his three appearances, allowing just one run in 11 innings of work, as has Marcus Hatley (’07/’08/’10), who has tossed four scoreless innings in recovering from arm issues that sidelined him in 2010.  The Chiefs offense has been led by the versatile Greg Rohan (’09), who has a homer and 10 RBI, while hitting .317 (and has played the outfield, first base, and third).

Many other former Hawks have already signed contracts with Independent Teams – whether in the Frontier League, American Association, Atlantic League, North American League, or Can Am League.  Aaron Shafer (’08), Corey Martin (’09/’10), Jon Hunton (’04), Dan McDaniel (’08), Chris Walker (’02/’03), Alan Rick (’03), and Bobby Wagner (’09) are among the few who have inked contracts.  Indy ball starts in mid-May.

Alburquerque makes impressive MLB Debut, Hawk #82 in the Big Leagues

It didn’t take long for two former Boise Hawks to earn quick call-ups from their MLB parent clubs – as both Casey Coleman (’08) and Al Alburquerque (’07) earned the promotion two weeks into the season.

For Alburquerque, he becomes the 82nd former Boise Hawk to play in Major League Baseball – and had an ultra-impressive debut in Oakland for the Tigers – tossing two scoreless innings, retiring all six men that he faced, striking out two.  There was a quick story about the right-hander from the Dominican Republic, who posted a 3-2 mark with the 2007 Hawks on (http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110414&content_id=17791900&notebook_id=17792760&vkey=notebook_det&c_id=det) DetroitTigers.com

Great news also coming from the AAA ranks, as former Hawk Lou Montanez (’04) is off to a blistering start for the Iowa Cubs, ranking fifth in all of AAA ball with 12 RBI through the first week of the season (hitting .400), while little Tony Campana (’08), who played all of just one game with the Hawks before breaking his hand and missing most of the season, is hitting .393 with 3 stolen bases with the I-Cubs.

Speaking of former Hawks – two alumni had videos that were featured this week on milb.com, as Josh Harrison (’08) hit a home run that you can see here (http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=13765057&sid=milb) in a win for the Indianapolis Indians (AAA-Pittsburgh), while Tony Thomas (’07) clubbed his second grand slam of the season here (http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=13736021&sid=milb) for the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA-Boston).

Great news coming out of Louisville (AAA-Cincinnati), as one of the more successful Boise Hawks of the last decade has regained his form – at least for two outings.  Dontrelle Willis (’01) has not given up a run in two starts for the Bats, walking only two men, and striking out 11.  The D-Train bounced around last season – pitching in both Detroit and Arizona, before finishing the year in the San Francisco organization, before getting a minor league deal with the Reds in 2011.

Many former Hawks are still in the minors – but not in the Cubs organization, many with the same team.  With Thomas in Pawtucket, former Hawk Rich Hill (’02, ’03) has yet to allow a run in three appearances with the Paw-Sox, while in Durham (AAA-Tampa Bay), three former Hawks – Robinson Chirinos (’02), Brandon Guyer (’07), and Russ Canzler (’06) all play for the Bulls.  In the next week, look for a complete list of former Hawks in both the Major and Minor Leagues.

Also, the first former Hawk that was released this spring by the Cubs has landed in another organization, as Mike Perconte (’08, ’09) was signed by the Texas Rangers and sent to AA Frisco, where he has made three appearances without allowing an earned run.

Baseball America update not kind for Former Hawks

The latest round of transactions from Baseball America was unkind to former Boise Hawks – as a quartet of players who were in limbo after not being named to the four long-season Cubs affiliates were subsequently released.

Left-handed pitchers James Leverton (’08), Chris Sigfried (’07), and Marcos Perez (’10), along with Alvaro Ramirez (’10) (pictured right) – who led the Hawks in hitting last season (but was 24 years of age), were all released at the conclusion of minor league Spring Training and prior to the start of the 50-game Extended Spring Training season.

Other news – with former Hawks Andrew Cashner (’08) and Randy Wells (’01) put on the disabled list by the Cubs, Jeff Stevens was called up by the big club, and it is expected that Casey Coleman (’08) will start for the Cubs on Sunday in Milwaukee.  It is conceivable that another reliever may be called up to help in the bullpen – which could be an opening for Chris Carpenter (’08), who had an outstanding Spring Training with the big club.

Also today, despite giving up six runs in the home opener at Fenway Park, John Lackey (’97) picked up his first win of the season, defeating the Yankees, 9-6.

Minor League Rosters set, where are the Hawks

The MLB season is nearly a week old, while the full-season Minor League teams will begin their seasons on Thursday and Friday.  The four Cubs affiliates (Iowa Cubs – AAA, Tennessee Smokies – AA, Daytona Cubs – Advanced A, Peoria Chiefs – A) have announced their rosters with dozens of former Hawks peppering their roster.

For the complete list of players, click here – AlumniReport4-5-11

The players who have not been assigned to the full season affiliates will remain at Fitch Park in Mesa to begin Extended Spring Training or rehab programs for injuries.

A total of 25 players who previously played for the Hawks have been released during the off-season – including Corey Martin, Mike Perconte, Danny Keefe, and Carlos Rojas, who were let go by the Cubs last week.

A couple interesting moves – former outfielders Ryan Harvey (’04) and Kyler Burke (’07, ’08) are being converted to pitchers – Harvey in the Red Sox organization and Burke with the Cubs.  Josh Harrison (’08) looks to be the starting second baseman for the Indianapolis Indians in the Pirates organization, while three former Hawks – Darin Downs (’04-’06), Jose Ceda (’06), and Adalberto Mendez (’03) are all with the New Orleans Zephyrs, the AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins.

Boise Hawks on 2011 Opening Day Rosters

A total of 14 former Boise Hawks have made the 2011 Opening Day rosters in the Major Leagues, while eight other players have earned a spot on their club’s 40-Man Roster.

Of the 14, only one (Andrew Cashner) is on his first Opening Day roster, while no new former Hawks have cracked the big leagues to start 2011.

The list – Felix Pie (’02) – Baltimore; John Lackey (’97) – Boston; Joel Peralta (’99) – Tampa Bay; Jerry Blevins (’04, ’06) – Oakland; Francisco Rodriguez (’00) – New York Mets; Ricky Nolasco (’02) – Florida; Ronny Cedeno (’02) – Pittsburgh; Sergio Mitre (’01) – Milwaukee; Andrew Cashner (’08), Sean Marshall (’03), Randy Wells (’01), Geovany Soto (’02), Tyler Colvin (’06), Jeff Samarzija (’06) – Chicago Cubs.

On the 40-Man – Jose Ceda (’07) – Florida; Josh Donaldson (’07) – Oakland; Al Albuquerque (’06) – Detroit; Robinson Chirnios (’02), Brandon Guyer (’07) – Tampa Bay; Alberto Cabrera (’07), Casey Coleman (’08), Welington Castillo (’06) – Chicago Cubs.

In the next week or so, I will have the assignments for former Hawks as the Full Season minor league teams break camp – and a list of who is no longer with various organizations.

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