Catching up from Eugene
It has been a whirlwind four days for the Boise Hawks – arriving in Boise on Tuesday afternoon (meeting their host families), a Wednesday media day and scrimmage against the Idaho Cubs, a Thursday eight-hour bus ride to Eugene (mountains just outside Bend, Ore. pictured right), followed by Opening Day against the Eugene Emeralds, ending in a tough 5-4 loss. Listen to the game highlights here (http://yotestats.i8.com/hawks/highlights6-17-11.wmv).
It was a weird game in the sense that the Hawks had a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning, despite having just one hit, a Yaniel Cabezas RBI double in the opening frame. On the night, Boise drew eight walks from Ems pitchers, but also struck out 13 times. Eugene wasn’t shy about utilizing their bullpen, trotting out six different pitchers in the victory before 3,352 fans.
Ben Wells had the chance for his first professional win for the Hawks – going five innings of five-hit ball, allowing two earned runs, but skipper said the Arkansas native had an off-game with his stuff, mentioning that he didn’t have the bite on his fastball that runs inside on right-hand hitters. The skipper also mentioned jitters for both Jose Rosario and Hector Mayora – playing in front of a crowd for the first time in their careers.
I was impressed with the Ems, especially with the fact that their 1-3 hitters are all current or former first-round draft picks, including 2009 No. 3 overall selection, Donovan Tate. San Diego has already sent 14 players to the Willamette Valley – while the Cubs have sent Boise just three picks.
NEWS AND NOTES: Lots of stuff from the Cubs other affiliates, as the Peoria Chiefs were featured Friday on ESPN’s Outside the Lines – this time for something positive (instead of the Julio Castillo tossing the baseball in the crowd incident a few years back). They held a LeBron James replica NBA championship ring giveaway (giving away nothing since the Heat didn’t win the crown) – getting buzz from national media outlets.
Playoff baseball will be heading to both Daytona and Knoxville, as the Advanced-A Daytona Cubs won the Florida State League North Division first-half pennant, while the Tennessee Smokies claimed the Southern League North Division first-half pennant (their fourth straight half won, dating back to 2009).
Also, it was announced that the Cubs will host their concert series again this summer at Wrigley Field, as on July 31, Paul McCartney will be playing on the corner of Clark and Addison. That will be a tough ticket to get!
ROSTER MOVES: The Hawks have added a player in Eugene, as much-traveled Chad Noble returns to Boise for the second-straight year. The product of Northwestern has had stops at Daytona, Peoria, and Extended Spring Training already this year. Also, former Boise Hawk, Brian Dopirak, who hit 13 homers in 2003, was released by the Houston Astros organization after hitting .252 with six homers at AAA Oklahoma City.
GOD GIVEN TALENT: The Hawks had the opportunity to meet You Tube sensation, Domingo Ayala prior to the season opener – as the Latin ball player was on hand in Eugene. Ayala, who has 13 videos online to “teach” people how to play the game, stopped by the radio booth and joined me – stating that his people are trying to negociate a deal with the Padres, but if it didn’t work out, he’d play for the Cubs. As he told me, his “talent is God given.”
LOOKING AHEAD: On Sunday, the latest Boise Hawks alumni report will be released – with updated statistics for players from MLB all the way to the independent leagues.