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)

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