John Engel: Draft day is probably one of the most exciting times for a young prospect with Major League aspirations. Take me through your draft day.
Zeke DeVoss: It was a little bit stressful, I guess, because it’s something that every baseball player looks forward to. I had heard that I was going to get taken high, somewhere in the late second round, so I was anxious waiting to hear my name called. Then I heard my name come off the board as the 98th overall pick by the Cubs and that was a thrilling moment.
JE: Were you getting a little worried when the second round passed without you being selected?
ZD: Everything happens for a reason, so I knew that if I didn’t get selected (in the second round) something better would come along and that’s how it worked out.
JE: What’s your first impression of the organization?
ZD: I really like the organization, I really like how everything is handled and how things are done from the bottom to the top.
JE: What’s the biggest difference between playing at the University of Miami and the Boise Hawks?
ZD: At this point in the minor leagues, it’s not necessarily about winning games everyday; it’s about development and working on things that you need to work on. It’s about working on the little things to help you win at the top level.
JE: Two years ago, you were drafted straight out of high school. What made you decide to attend the “U”?
ZD: Miami is a really good university, academic wise, and the program they have as far as baseball I shouldn’t even have to explain much about that, they have an awesome program there. I knew it would be the right choice for me to go to college and to mature as a player and as a person.
JE: After being drafted you were promoted very quickly and only played four games in Arizona before being sent to Boise. What do you think jumped out most about you so quickly?
ZD: I think mainly my speed, and not only that, my patience as a hitter and swinging at good pitches while hitting the ball hard and getting on base and stealing bases and scoring runs really helps.
JE: You’ve only been in the organization for a couple of weeks and you’re already getting buzz inside and out of the organization. How does that feel as a young player?
ZD: It’s always good to hear positive buzz about your name, but it can be good or it can be bad. It can also hurt you and make you lose your humility.
JE: What’s your first impression of the coaching staff here in Boise?
ZD: I really like the coaching staff here. Everything is really relaxed and they emphasize playing your game and not getting to uptight and I really like that. They can relate to us and they’re not on you about everything. They let you play and give you instruction when it’s needed but they’re not too hard on you.
JE: Do the coaches set goals and expectations for you as a player or is that more on a personal basis?
ZD: It’s much more of a personal thing.
JE: What goals have you set for yourself as a player?
ZD: Obviously the main goal is to make it to the major leagues and to do so quickly and to play at the best level.
JE: In college you played in the outfield as well as second base. Where do you feel most comfortable defensively?
ZD: I really feel comfortable in either place. My freshman year I played centerfield and my sophomore year I played second base, so I can play both outfield and infield. I feel comfortable at both positions.
JE: What’s your favorite part of the game of baseball?
ZD: You know, I just like battling. We’re playing games every day and I like stepping in the box and battling it out with the pitcher. I challenge myself to have a good at bat ever single time. This game is a lot about failure, but you have to forget about because you play games every single day.
JE: Which currently player would you compare yourself to in Major League Baseball?
ZD: I would say Jose Reyes (New York Mets). He’s a switch hitter and plays shortstop but he has speed and a little bit of power, so I really compared myself to him growing up.
For starting pitcher Yao-Lin Wang, getting “held back” may turn him into the Rhodes Scholar of baseball.
In his first season with the Class-A Boise Hawks, Wang did nothing more than struggle on the mound. Through four games, Wang carried a 6.43 ERA, allowed 19 hits with nine walks through only 14 innings.
Since arriving in Boise this season Wang is 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA through nine games; best among Hawks starters.
From opening day Wang defined himself as the true “ace” of the Hawks rotation. Save one start against the Vancouver Canadians on the road, he has yet to allow more than two runs.
First-year manager Mark Johnson has limited Wang’s outings to five innings this season, a duration that has proved successful for Wang. In a league so focused around personal instructions, shorter amounts of game-action paired with detailed practices have helped Wang mature immensly as a starting pitcher.
Wang can most likely be seen again on Aug. 3 against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the second game of their five game series at Memorial Stadium.
In a five game series in Everett, WA. the Hawks dropped four of five games after taking two of three against the Indians at Home.
Newly promoted relief pitcher Joseph Zeller currently leads the team in ERA at 1.59 through five games with one win in his second stint with the Hawks. Last season, Zeller was 0-1 with a 6.49 ERA.
Reggie Golden – second selection in the 2010 First-Year Players Draft by the Chicago Cubs – will look to rebound from a six game slump in which he only edged out two hits. Golden has not yet produced the way scouts expected, though his raw talent and potential is still very valuable.
You may not know the newest addition to the Boise Hawks infield core by name yet; but rest assured, you will. After only eight games in the Chicago Cubs organization, Ezekiel DeVoss is making his name (Zeke) heard loudly around the organization while in Boise.
Devoss joined the Hawks after being selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third-round of the 2011 First-Year players draft as a sophomore from the University of Miami. He was promoted after playing in only three games for the Arizona Cubs of the Arizona Rookie League.
He reportedly signed a $500,000 contract with the organization.
While with the Hurricanes, the 5-foot-10 second base/outfield hybrid did nothing short of impress. In only two years, DeVoss started 121 of 123 while dominating most offensive categories and showing incredible plate discipline.
Discretion at the plate can often be difficult for young, professional hitters making the transition from college. However, in his final year with Miami, DeVoss led the team in walks (57) and on-base percentage (.491). For the Hawks, he has three walks and an OBP of .591 through five games.
Some skeptics may debate whether a player as young as DeVoss is ready for the lead-off roll as a professional. Think about this: DeVoss started all 61 games for the Hurricanes last season, where he led off in every game and led the team with a .340 average in his sophomore year.
DeVoss’ scouting report boasts a well-rounded game with immense potential for offensive production at the next level. He hits well for average, has plus speed on the base-paths and is very versatile in the field.
Since arriving in Boise, DeVoss has eight stolen bases and three multi-hit games while carrying a .407 average from both sides of the plate.
It’s not hard to find where DeVoss’ talent originates from. His parents, Mark and Angie DeVoss, were both collegiate athletes at Florida Southern University, leaving Zeke with a wide range of athletics ability spanning across three sports (baseball, basketball and football) while attending Astronaut High School.
Whether you know his name or not, one thing is for sure; Zeke DeVoss will be stealing the hearts of Wrigley Nation for years to come.
I sat down with Boise Hawks President Todd Rahr to discuss the topic of a new stadium, as well as the problems currently facing Memorial Stadium. Here is the interview.
JE: Is Memorial Stadium on the same level as the other stadiums in Class-A or the Northwest League?
TR: No, not at all. The stadium is rot with issues that I would say Yakima is the only stadium in the league that shares the same issues. There’s an inadequate amount of seats here, however, the seats we do have here, a third of them, are affected by the sun and are “undesirable”. Which could easily be taken care of with a new facility or renovation.
JE: What parts of Memorial Stadium are in the worst condition?
TR: Our kitchen facilities are substandard; our concession stand areas are substandard. We do not have an ADA compliant facility and we’re the only one that isn’t in the league (with the exception of the Spokane Indians). Our seats are substandard – we broke 60 last year. I’ve never been in a stadium that has broken a seat. Ever. It’s ridiculous. A lot of the problems are on the underbelly of the stadium that we have to upgrade for the Chicago Cubs. I want to avoid a revolving door of teams coming and going.
JE: Is renovation more efficient than a new stadium or is just a Band-Aid fix?
TR: I would say renovation is a band-aid. If we’re going going to renovate on this current spot, my feeling is that it would be better to just tear it down and start all over again, and maybe play a year at Borah High. Maybe we’ll go retro for a year, who knows? The one thing that would happen is that ownership would have to foot the entire bill. We’re trying to work with cities to build a facility that isn’t just a “Hawks” facility, it’s a multi-use facility. We would then guarantee being the primary tenant.
I think that’s what people get misconstrued; that we’re going out and seeking public money for a Boise Hawks stadium. We’re trying to catalyze a stadium being built in the Treasure Valley. They need a lot, especially in Boise. Boise State could use it and [the city of Boise] doesn’t have an outdoor concert venue to compete with the Idaho Center
JE: Who would benefit most from a new stadium (fans, players, ownership)?
TR: In my mind it would be the city, especially if it’s in Boise. Which, in turn, is the community at large. Donald Larson Park, for instance, is going to be built and used for football; however you’ve have no parking, with a possible crowd of 8,000 people and only 60 parking spots. With Whole Foods over there as well, that’s going to become a big problem with those living near Warm Springs. It’s a fix, but they need more and that’s what the school district has told us. They need more options and we can become that. If you go to Meridian it’s the same situation.
Next on the list, let’s be honest, the Boise Hawks are going to be a big beneficiary of this facility because this changes our entire business model. I also think it catalyzes a lot of things like redeveloping downtown with shops, restaurants and bars. That’s the only part of town that really makes sense.
JE: What is the process of getting a new stadium?
TR: If you study the process of stadiums being built around the country, you’ll see that no two stadiums have been built the same way. So, our process here is to get a municipality between city hall, developers, citizens and the business community and to get everyone on the same page. If there isn’t that feeling, its not going to be a success. On the other hand we have Idaho, which has one of the roughest ways of financing something like this. Really, the only way to do this is through urban renewal and bonding.
JE: What other stadiums would the new stadium resemble?
TR: It will really determine on the site we choose. In my mind, if we’re going on the western side of Boise, you want something that faces the foothills and has a neighborhood feel to it, like Wrigley Field. We just want to fulfill what we say we will fulfill to this community. This facility does not represent the size and scope that the city has to offer to outside businesses and the citizens that are.
JE: What are the proposed locations for the new stadium?
TR: There’s current site, which would be on us completely. There’s a site that’s on the western side of downtown, where I think we would do the most good by building up the area. There’s a site by the airport, as well as by the outlet malls. We’ve talked about in Meridian by I-84. It comes down to how we’re going to finance this project.
JE: Did the Chicago Cubs demand this stadium expansion or is the project completely internal?
TR: To keep the Chicago Cubs, we have to get a new facility built or make a huge renovation on the current stadium. The Cubs are now under new ownership, and the Rickets family has said that we want the best facilities for our minor league team. In Mesa, AZ they have a $100 million project going on down there, so they’re not going to settle for second-rate facilities. There’s pressure from ownership to get a new facility… We need to find an option for the next 50-100 years.
JE: How far away is the new stadium?
TR: New stadium? I’ve always said Opening Day 2015. I wish I could say that it would be in 2013 or 2014 but I think we’re on pace to have a new facility for Opening Day 2015.
JE: Is the increase in revenue with a new stadium only due to a “honeymooner” period?
TR: There’s certainly a major spike in years one, two and three. But studies show that come year four or five you’re still doing better than you were previously. There’s always a honeymooner period, but we’re not going to have the full event schedule until at least year three anyway. Once it’s built hopefully it will sustain itself for many, many years.
JE: Currently, it seems the Hawks have trouble filling the stand in the current facility. Won’t that problem only increase with a larger stadium?
TR: Actually, our only problem currently is with the first base side and the sun. We have no trouble filling the third base and home plate stands on any given night. We’re sold out almost any given night in those two sections. The problem is, first base and we still draw 82 percent capacity which is far and away the best in this league. CSL, who did a study for the city, has shown that we have the demand in this town for 5,500 to 6,000 in attendance on a nightly basis. Our goal is for 4,500-5,000. We’re going to build it right, so we don’t have to deal with the issues with we’re dealing with right now.
JE: In the end, is stadium expansion even feasible or is it just a dream?
TR: Do I think it can happen?
TR: Yes I do. It’s up to citizens and corporate citizens to get in the ballpark and use it. I believe the plan is good and solid. They we’re doing it, the burden will be put on the owners of businesses or condominiums that will be built in the zone through property tax. You and I won’t see the difference.
Home sweet home. After only three weeks of baseball, it is already becoming clear that the rickety park known as Memorial Stadium is becoming a safe-haven for the Boise Hawks. On the road, Boise is 4-5 with four losses of two runs or more. At home, the Hawks are 5-1 and have outscored opponents 39-28.
The second road trip of the season saw little offensive support from the Hawks, leading them to drop 2-of-3 to the Tri-City Dust Devils. In their home-opening series against the Dust Devils the Hawks won two games in front of three passionate Memorial Stadium crowds.
In the first game against Tri-City, the Hawks saw strong efforts from Willson Contreras and Reggie Golden at the plate and four shutout innings from Yao-Lin Wang.
Contreras went 4-for-4 with four hits in the game, while Golden slugged his first homerun of the season to go with two RBI.
Wang received his second win of the season, throwing 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and only one run-scored.
In the second game of the series, Travis Garcia, Kenny Socorro and Rafael Lopez all had multi-hit games after recently being promoted from Arizona Rookie League in Mesa, AZ. Reggie Golden also had three hits.
Right handed pitcher Jin-Young Kim was pulled after the first inning when he allowed two runs on two hits and three walks. Kim was given the loss.
Despite earning 10 hits on the night, the Hawks were unable to cash-in on runners in scoring position and fell to the Dust Devils, 5-3.
In the rubber match of the three-game series, the Hawks had multi-hit games from Contreras, his second of the series, and Pin-Chieh Chen. However, the Dust Devils had nine runs on nine hits to earn themselves the win, 9-3.
Joseph Zeller made his first appearance for the Hawks after playing in four games for the club in 2010. He threw 2 2/3 innings, giving up one hit and two walks, while earning three strikeouts. Zeller spent the majority of last season with the Arizona Cubs in the Arizona Rookie League.
Over the past few seasons, the Chicago Cubs have shown their deep investment in Asian prospects through multiple free agent signings that have landed many foreign born players on the Boise Hawks roster.
Most notable of these recent acquisitions was Korean born short stop Hak-Ju Lee, who played in Boise during the 2009 season and is now rated the number 92 prospect in minor league baseball by Baseball America.This season the Hawks may have received their best overseas prospect yet in 19-year-old Pin-Chieh Chen from Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.
Despite being considerably slower than his counterpart Kyung-Min Na — signed by the Chicago Cubs in 2010 out of Seoul, Korea — Chen boasts a well-rounded skill set, while Na showed deficiencies at the plate.
Through six games with the Hawks, Chen is leading the team in batting average at .440 and is second in both slugging and on-base plus slugging to Paul Hoilman.
Chen is very comfortable in centerfield and shows good range while making only minimal tracking mistakes. He also has an above average arm, and has yet to commit an error thus far in 2011.
On June 23, Chen started in centerfield over Na, who started the majority of the 2010 season in center for the Hawks.
Though short season Class-A is the only level Chen has amounted to thus far in his short career, he should expect continued promotion in the Cubs organization over the next year. Na was promoted as high as Class AA Tennessee (majority of top prospects), with little success at the plate at each level.
Overall, it can be seen that Chen is an incredible all around prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization with plus hitting and fielding ability and above average speed. Though the season may have just started, Hawks fans are running out of time to see Chen in action.
Behind the glitz and glamour of the money-making machine that is Major League Baseball are 20 leagues comprised of 246 teams and over 6,000 young athletes, trying to survive the daily grind of minor league baseball. Low pay, awful traveling conditions and zero job security are all obstacles that each player must surmount in order to reach the show
For 19-year-old Wes Darvill, the adventure of minor league baseball has already been a whirlwind of movement and confusion since being drafted in the fifth round of the amateur draft by the Chicago Cubs in 2009 when he was 17.
Darvill began his career at the lowest level of the Chicago Cubs organization, with the Arizona Cubs in the Arizona Rookie League where the majority of young draft picks go to start their journey. After spending an entire season in AZ, Darvill started the 2010 season with the Boise Hawks as the starting shortstop, but struggled to make the transition initially.
After 31 games, Darvill was struggling against Class-A pitchers and found himself batting a lowly .143 after posting a .301 average in the Rookie League the previous season.
“If you’re working hard and don’t see results, it’s all right, because it’s a process, especially for young guys,” said Darvill. “You see a lot of progress in the future, even if you don’t see it right away.”
Though the players on the Hawks all suit up under the same colors, in the end, every player is competing for a chance to move up to the next level and playing time a priceless commodity. The stress of not getting repetitions on the field is rough on many young athletes.
“You have to focus on what you can control. You can’t control how other people play,” said Darvill. “You have to focus on yourself and keep having fun. Then, everything will work out for you.”
Darvill’s patience with the process of minor league movements has allowed him to continue enjoying the game, while other players may see the day-to-day monotony overwhelming.
An average day for a budding minor league player includes long, tiresome days filled with practice, training and bothersome bus rides throughout the ranks.
Darvill reiterated that the details of minor league baseball are pretty routine no matter where you go; the main difference with the Hawks being the friendly Boise lifestyle we all know and love.
“One of the best things you get about Boise is you get the home experience,” said Darvill. “In Arizona you just live in hotels, the guys here really take advantage of [living in Boise].”
After beginning a career in baseball, every day throughout the year is occupied by the game. The home away-from-home environment provided by host families in the Treasure Valley gives players consistency throughout the season, as well as a much needed hot meal.
“Obviously you miss your family, but you’re doing what you love to do. I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else,” said Darvill. “This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid.”
Hawks (2-3) 11, Emeralds (3-2) 6.
Despite somewhat of a disappointing road series against the Eugene Emeralds to begin the 2011 season, the Boise Hawks finished the fifth game of a five game series with an 11-6 victory to finish the series 2-3.
The Hawks had a combined .222 batting average at the plate over the series against the Emeralds, putting them only ahead of the Yakima Bears (.167) for worst in the Northwest League through the first week.
Boise will play the first game of a three game series against the Tri-City Dust Devils (3-2) tonight, who are currently third in the Northwest League standings behind both Vancouver and Spokane.
Emeralds 5, Hawks 4. (Rosario, 0-1)
In their first game of a five-game road series, the Hawks fell to the Eugene Emeralds 5-4, to start the season in Eugene, OR.
Despite reaching base by way of eight walks as a team, Boise was only able to earn three hits in the game, while the top four hitters in the lineup went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts.
Arkansas native Ben Wells — a highly touted right-hander out of Bryant High School — threw five innings of quality work, allowing only two runs on five hits and two walks in his professional debut. The Hawks lost their 4-2 lead in the sixth, when a Wes Darvill error to lead off the inning was followed by a single, a pass ball, and three straight walks thrown by Jose Rosario.
The Hawks face off against the Emeralds again tonight, and can be heard on 1350 KTIK, The Ticket at 8:05 pm.
Don’t forget to check back daily for the latest on the Boise Hawks and Memorial Stadium!
Visit HAM Insider Laura Verillo’s blog for more! hawkshotcorner.mlblogs.com
After nine months that included an outspoken actor “winning”, La Niña freezing and Osama Bin Laden dying, baseball is finally back for the summer.
Today, the Hawks arrive for the first time in 2011, and begin the monotonous schedule of “media day”, followed by a season ticket holder exhibition game. The Hawks will play the Idaho Cubs prospect team, led by Bench Coach Gary Van Tol, composed of high school players in the greater Treasure Valley area with hopes to play at the next level.
Familiar faces on the Hawks roster this season include pitchers Kyler Burke (2007-08), Dustin Fitzgerald (2010), Yao-Lin Wang (2010); infielders Wes Darvill (2010) and Dustin Harrington (2010); outfielders Ping-Chieh Chen (2010) and D.J. Fitzgerald (2009). More to come on returning players later tonight following the media day meet-and-greet.
My blog as well as those of the other Hawks Advanced Media Insiders will be updated all season long to give Hawks fans an inside look at the team and different events happening at Memorial Stadium! Subscribe to the blogs and receive e-mail alerts when a new post is made!
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