Your 2011 Boise Hawks
The Chicago Cubs announced the initial roster of the 2011 Boise Hawks, then an addendum, and another addendum – as the revolving door that is short-season baseball began. When the Hawks staff received initial word of 27 players that would make up the squad – I was the first to make light of the list, taking a poll as to the over/under on roster moves prior to the first pitch being thrown Friday night in Eugene.
When the dust of the morning settled, a roster of 26 players (14 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders, and four outfielders) will head to the City of Trees for a 4:30 arrival at the Boise Air Terminal. Of the group, seven have played previously with the Hawks, four will be making their debut in the United States, while three are recent draft picks that have signed.
Of the returners – Kyler Burke (’07/’08) and D.J. Fitzgerald (’09) are the old guard, as Burke, the 2009 Cubs Minor League Player of the Year, has made a conversion to the mound in 2011, utilizing the cannon of an outfield arm to pump mid-90s fastballs from the left side, with Fitzgerald looking to recover after a rough start to 2011 in Peoria, where he hit just .128 in 40 games. Others include infielder Wes Darvill (’10), who was the starting shortstop in Yakima on Opening Day 2010, Pin Chieh-Chen (’10), who will play both infield and outfield after getting a morsel with the Hawks late last season, Dustin Harrington (’10), who was the everyday third baseman at the close of last season, along with pitchers Dustin Fitzgerald (’10) and Yao-Lin Wang (’10).
High-profile international players dot the roster – including catcher Yaniel Cabezas (Cuba), infielder Willson Contreras (Venezuela), and pitcher Jin-Yeong Kim (South Korea), all of whom signed for a minimum of a half a million dollars.
Of the players from Extended Spring, look for Luis Liria to be a key member of the rotation – having posted good numbers throughout his career. Second-year pitchers from high school include Austin Reed and Ben Wells, while flame-thrower Charles Thomas may be a fan favorite. Second-round pick Reggie Golden is raw but has a huge upside.
Of the first-year college players, Paul Hoilman looks to be a beast, having smashed 22 home runs in at East Tennessee State this season, despite the change to the BBCOR bats, while former Boston College shortstop Brad Zapenas and Kent State outfielder Ben Klafczynski will debut with the Hawks.
The squad will have their first workout at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, with an exhibition game vs. the Idaho Cubs travel team that night. The squad will charter bus to Eugene on Thursday prior to Friday’s season opener at PK Park at 8:05 p.m. (MDT). Hawkstown Tonight will air at 7:05 p.m. (MDT) on Friday, with the game to follow.