May 2012

Boise Hawks Fun Facts

Was reminicing over this Memorial Day Weekend and came up with a dozen “fun facts” about the Boise Hawks – some of the nuggets that may or may not find their way onto the radio broadcasts this season.  Many of them come from the days of the old Boise Hawks logo.

1. Walk-Off Fireworks – on July 4, 2011, Paul Hoilman hit a walk-off home run in extra innings to lift the Boise Hawks to a victory over Yakima.  It was the first of three-straight extra inning wins in a row for the team.

2. Road Warriors – every August, the Hawks vacate Memorial Stadium due to the Western Idaho Fair, for their longest road trip of the year.  In 2004, the Hawks won eight-straight games on the swing – helping the team win the NWL pennant.

3. As of May 27, a total of 94 former Boise Hawks have played in the Major Leagues.

4. Two former Boise Hawks have earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Major Leagues – Dontrelle Willis (2003) and Geovany Soto (2008)

5. Six former Hawks have been MLB All-Stars – Garret Anderson, Troy Percival, Francisco Rodriguez, John Lackey, Dontrelle Willis, Geovany Soto.

6. The Cubs have sent seven first-round draft picks to Boise – Javier Baez (2011), Brett Jackson (2009), Andrew Cashner (2008), Josh Vitters (2007), Tyler Colvin (2006), Mark Pawelek (2005), Ryan Harvey (2003)

7. August 5, 2004 – Hawks commit franchise record nine errors, but rally for 6-5 win in 11 innings at Yakima.  Oakland reliever Jerry Blevins got the win for Boise.

8. In the last 10 years, the Hawks have played just two games longer than 13 innings – winning 2-1 at Tri-City (August 21, 2003) in 14 innings, and winning 9-8 vs. Everett (July 30, 2004) in 16 innings.

9. All five members of the original 2003 Boise Hawks starting rotation – Rocky Cherry, Billy Petrick, Sean Marshall, Rich Hill, Adalberto Mendez eventually pitched in the Major Leagues.

10. August 7, 2010 – one of the weird nights in Hawks history, manager Jody Davis pulls the team from the field in Everett due to “unplayable conditions” and the Hawks forfeit the Northwest League game to the Aquasox.

11. September 1, 2006 – Tyler Colvin hits a pair of home runs in a 10-5 victory over Tri-City, the fifth-straight game in which he hit a home run.

12. June 29, 1989 – Hawks manager Mal Fitchman was ejected in the sixth inning of the game vs. the Salem Dodgers.  However, Fitchman changes into the uniform of Humphrey the Hawk and returns to the field to instruct the team.  Ironically, the manager of the Dodgers was Tom Beyers – who later managed the Hawks.

My Take – Top Hawks of the Cubs Era

Now that the Boise Hawks have been affiliated with the Chicago Cubs for more seasons (12) than any other organization (they were affiliated with the L.A. Angels for 11), I thought it would be interesting to go position by position and come up with the All-Star Team of players from the “Cubs Era”.

I came up with 37 different players to be under consideration – some were late cuts (guys like Chris Walker, Kyle Boyer, Brian Dopirak, Darin Downs, Sean Marshall and others), while others (Geovany Soto, Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija) didn’t spend enough time in the Treasure Valley.

Here is my list – if you feel I missed a player or someone should be No. 1 at their position, feel free to drop my a line on Twitter (@BoiseHawksRadio)

C – Josh Donaldson (2007)

Donaldson (left) joined the Hawks in July and the team took off with his leadership at the plate and with the pitchers.  He hit .346 in 49 games, with nine home runs, 11 doubles, and 35 RBI, while throwing out 40-percent of would-be base stealers.  The supplemental first-round pick was dealt to the Oakland Athletics (part of the Rich Harden trade) in 2008 and made his major league debut in 2010.

Others Considered – Tony Richie (2004 – .314 1 HR 24 RBI); Rafael Lopez (2011 – .316 6 HR 37 RBI)

1B – Brad Bouras (2001)               

Bouras played just three seasons in minor league ball, but had one of the most prolific all-around seasons by a Boise first-baseman.  The Atlanta native hit .349 with six home runs and 60 RBI, while recording a team-high 25 doubles.  He would have a solid season at Lansing in 2002, before being released by the Cubs following a tough 2003 year at Daytona.

Others Considered – Micah Hoffpauir (2002 – .301 10 HR 41 RBI); Russ Canzler (2006 – .264 16 HR 61 RBI); Paul Hoilman (2011 .252 17 HR 44 RBI)

2B – Josh Harrison (2008)

Harrison played in just 33 games with the Hawks in 2008, but it was a dominant of a month by a second baseman in franchise history.  The Cincinnati product hit .351 with a home run, 25 RBI, rapping out 11 doubles, and stealing 12 bases – good enough to earn NWL All-Star honors.  After having an All-Star first-half in Peoria in 2009, he was traded to the Pirates (part of the Tom Gorzelany trade), where he made his MLB debut in 2011.

Others Considered – Tony Thomas (2007 – .308 5 HR 33 RBI); Marwin Gonzalez (2008 – .279 0 HR 43 RBI); Logan Watkins (2009 – .326 0 HR 29 RBI, 14 SB); Pierre LePage (2010 – .331 1 HR 38 RBI)

SS – Hak-Ju Lee (2009)

Lee (right) was part of the first group of Korean players to make their way to Boise and did not disappoint, having an All-Star season, hitting .330 with a pair of home runs and 33 RBI.  Lee stole 25 bases and recorded a .400 on- base percentage.  After earning All-Star honors in the Midwest League in 2010, he was part of the trade that brought Matt Garza to the Cubs – but earned All-Star honors last season in Charlotte (Tampa Bay’s Advanced-A affiliate).

Others Considered – Ryan Flaherty (2008 – .297 8 HR 26 RBI)

3B – Josh Vitters (2008)

Vitters was a much-hyped player when he came to Boise, as the third-overall pick in the 2007 Draft and didn’t disappoint on the field, hitting .328 with five homers, 37 RBI, and 25 doubles.  The California native also recorded a franchise-best 25 game hit streak, just one off the NWL record.  Vitters has slowly climbed through the Cubs organization and is currently at AAA Iowa.

Others Considered – Donnie Hood (2002 – .279 12 HR 42 RBI), Marquez Smith (2007 – .275 5 HR 41 RBI)

LF – Tyler Colvin (2006)

The first-round pick out of Clemson led the Hawks to an East Division title, including a five-game stretch in August when he had six homers and 14 RBI.  Colvin (left) hit .268 for the season with 11 homers and a team-best 53 RBI.  Colvin made his MLB debut in 2009 and hit 20 homers for the Cubs in 2010.  He was traded this past year to the Colorado Rockies.

Others Considered – Keto Anderson (2001 – .376 6 HR 41 RBI, 24 SB); Lou Montanez (2004 – .297 8 HR 48 RBI); Ty Wright (2007 – .317 8 HR 44 RBI)

CF – Brett Jackson (2009)

Jackson spent just one month with the Hawks in 2009, but made a major impact with the team and fans – reaching base in all 24 games he played.  The first-round pick out of Cal hit .330 with a home run and 15 RBI, while recording a .443 on-base percentage.  Jackson has had stellar stops in Daytona and Tennessee, and currently is an everyday outfielder at AAA Iowa.

Others Considered – Davy Gregg (2005 – .280 1 HR 19 RBI, 36 RBI); Jonathan Wyatt (2007 – .306 4 HR 41 RBI)

RF – Ryan Harvey (2004)

Harvey wowed fans at Memorial Stadium with his five-tool ability, showing off a cannon arm and hitting some of the longest and most talked about home runs in franchise history.  The first-round pick hit .264 with 14 homers and 43 RBI, leading the Hawks to the NWL pennant – hitting four post-season home runs, including a homer in the title clinching win at Vancouver.  He would hit at least 20 homers in Peoria and Daytona in 2005 and 2006, but never climb above the AA ranks in the Cubs or Rockies organizations.

Others Considered – J.J. Johnson (2001 – .317 7 HR 61 RBI); Kyler Burke (2007/08 – .258 17 HR 82 RBI combined); Alvaro Ramirez (2010- .350 4 HR 29 RBI)

DH – Kevin Collins (2002)

Collins put up huge numbers for the NWL champions, starting as the first-baseman, but moving to designated hitter after the addition of Micah Hoffpauir to the line-up.  He hit .342 for the summer, with 13 homers and 37 RBI, while recording 18 doubles.  Collins would hit 33 home runs in Lansing during the 2004 season, but never climb above the Class A ladder.

Starting Pitcher – Dontrelle Willis (2001)

One of the most notable players to ever wear a Boise uniform, Willis was the anchor in a dominating starting rotation that helped the Hawks win the East Division title.  He logged 93 innings that summer, going 8-2 with a 2.98 ERA, with 77 strikeouts and just 19 walks.  He was traded to the Marlins that winter, going 12-2 at the Class A level before a splash in 2003, earning NL Rookie of the Year honors after a 14-6 season, helping Florida win the World Series.  He led the National League with 22 wins in 2005.

Others Considered – Angel Guzman (2001 – 9-1 2.23 ERA); Andy Sisco (2002 – 7-2 2.43 ERA); Ricky Nolasco (2002 – 7-2 2.48 ERA)

Relief Pitcher – Jerry Blevins (2004)

The left-hander was dominant over the final month of the 2004 season, not allowing a run over his final 15 outings of the regular-season, spanning 22 innings of work.  Blevins (right) went 6-1 with a 1.62 ERA and added five saves that season, but was the stopper in the NWL Championship Series, saving all three games for the Hawks against Vancouver.  After rough seasons in the Cubs organization, Blevins was traded to Oakland in 2008 and turned into a lefty specialist – and has been a mainstay in the A’s bullpen for the last four seasons.

Others Considered – Jason Wylie (2002 – 1-1 1.99 ERA, 11 saves); Michael Cooper (2006 – 2-0 1.23 ERA, 9 saves); Dan McDaniel (2008 – 2-0 1.67 ERA, 7 saves); John Muller (2008 – 2-0 1.50 ERA, 8 saves); Aaron Kurcz (2010 – 2-1 2.05 ERA, 9 saves)

“Unofficial” Cubs Extended Spring Roster

One of the things that I enjoy to read during Spring Training are the reports from “The Cub Reporter” correspondent Arizona Phil – whether it be from a MLB Spring Training game, or the countless minor league Spring Training games.

Once the full season teams (and the Cubs) depart Mesa, Arizona Phil does what do other Cubs fan/reporter does – heads to every Extended Spring Training game or intra-squad game – giving fans insight into the future of the Cubs (and that of the Boise Hawks).

From his countless posts, I’ve been able to piece together an “unofficial” Extended Spring Training roster (there are probably players on the DL not on the list) – which will give fans a look inside who may or may not be coming to Boise in less than a month.  A big help to us in Boise are the statistics that he compiles from the Extended Spring games, which gives fans in the Treasure Valley the potential of players as they make the way up from the desert.

Click Here for the Roster – (Extended Spring Training Roster as of May 18, 2012)

Back-to-Back Days

For the second-straight day, a former Boise Hawk made his MLB debut, as Blake Lalli was called up by the Chicago Cubs to replace another former Hawk, Geovany Soto, who went on the 15-Day DL with a knee injury.

Lalli, who played in three games, going 0-for-7 with the Hawks in 2006, came into today’s game against the White Sox in the top of the ninth defensively and then grounded out in his first big league at bat.  The game was memorable, as Lalli was making his debut, Kerry Wood announced his retirement at the conclusion of the game.

Today was also an interesting day for Josh Harrison, as the 2008 Hawk singled in the ninth inning against Justin Verlander and the Tigers, breaking up Verlander’s bid for his third no-hitter.  In San Francisco, Josh Donaldson (’07) had his best game in his big league career, recording a pair of doubles, and a home run, knocking in five runs in an Oakland win over the Giants.

Donaldson and Harrison are among the former Hawks that will be chronicalled in the coming days – as I announce my “Top Boise Hawks of the Chicago Cubs Era”. Position by position, I will give my pick for the top Hawks from 2001-11 – currently, I have 39 players that are under consideration in the eight field positions, starting pitcher, relief pitcher, and designated hitter categories.

News and Notes

I appologize for the lack of blog posts – but it has been a crazy last month at my full time job at The College of Idaho (I am the sports information director there), as we recently announced the reinstatement of an intercollegiate football program and our baseball team advanced to the NAIA World Series.

However – I have not forgotten the fans (follow me on Twitter @BoiseHawksRadio for instant updates), as I have been a tweeting machine over the last two weeks.

Tonight marked a milestone for Blake Parker (pictured left), who saw action in eight games with the Hawks in 2007 – as he was called up by the Cubs and became the 93rd former Boise Hawk to play in the big leagues.  Parker pitched an inning and two-thirds, allowing a pair of unearned runs with two strikeouts in the loss to the Phillies.

Two former Boise Hawks hit their first professional home runs (players No. 91 and 92 on the Hawks in MLB list) – with Ryan Flaherty hitting a leadoff home run against Texas on May 10 (the first of three-straight home runs to start the game), though the 2008 Hawks shortstop is hitting just .152 for the Orioles.  Marwin Gonzalez hit a pinch hit solo home run May 14 for the Astros at Philadelphia for his first MLB homer, with the Hawks 2008 second-baseman hitting .226 in his rookie season.

Two other former Hawks had big nights recently – as Welington Castillo hit a solo homer (1st in the big leagues since 2010) and drove in four tonight in an 8-7 loss to the Phillies, while Josh Harrison had a walk-off RBI single on May 13 vs. Houston, followed by going 4-for-7 with a homer and three RBI in a two-game series with Washington – upping his batting average to .256.

Some recent roster movement – as former Boise Hawk Felix Pie was signed by the Braves, while former Hawk, Charles Thomas, was recently released by the Cubs.  Two 2011 Hawks – Willengton Cruz and Bryce Shafer were both recently sent from Peoria to Extended Spring Training and may be ticketed for Boise to start the NWL season.

Boise Hawks Alumni Report (5/2/12)

A total of 117 players who have worn or coached in a Boise Hawks uniform are currently associated with an affiliated baseball team in 2012.  A total of 24 players are at the Major League level.

Click on the following link to view the list. (Alumni Report)

High Heels {and} Highlights

from a woman in BASEBALL . . .

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Muskat Ramblings's Carrie Muskat has been covering Major League Baseball since 1981 and is the author of "Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Cubs." You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Here, she blogs about the Cubs.

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