Category: Blog

Second time’s a charm: Wang rebounds in second stint with the Hawks

In grade school, getting held back was every kid’s worst nightmare. In minor league baseball, the feeling is often mutual. Scouting personnel, like parents, see immature kids that may need a few more years of fundamental instruction.

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.

ROAD UPDATE: Hawks drop two in Tri-City, bounce back against Yakima

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.

Alvaro Ramirez and Pierre LePage: Two players that don’t belong in Boise


With a commanding 6-3 win over the Tri-City Dust Devils (5-10)
Thursday night, the Boise Hawks moved into a tie for third place in the
Northwest League East Division, and will look to complete the sweep with Austin
Kirk on the mound, in front of an anticipated sold out crowd at Memorial
Stadium tonight.

Still, the Hawks (5-10) sit four games behind the division
leading Bears, who, are on pace to capture the final playoff position in the

Clearly the second half of the season hasn’t started out as
planned but with the amount of roster moves made by the Chicago Cubs (Matthew
Szczur led the Hawks in hitting during his 18 games in Boise with a .397
batting average), consistency can be hard to come by.

The only people keeping this sinking ship afloat for the fifth
worst offensive team in the NWL: Alvaro Ramirez and Pierre LePage.

Since arriving in Boise from his home in Wolcott, Conn.,
LePage, 21, has had nothing but success for the Hawks. In 42 games, the little
man with high hopes is second on the team in the majority of offensive categories;
behind only Ramirez.

Ramirez is now in his fifth season in the Chicago Cubs
organization, but has yet to be promoted higher than Class-A Boise for more
than 12 games. He now leads the team in average, hits, runs, plate appearances,
stolen bases, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus

In last night’s game, Ramirez went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while
making a pair of jaw dropping catches in right field. LePage also went 2-for-4,
but showed off his speed with a stolen base.

Each of these players have voiced themselves as leaders on
the team not with their screaming or intricate handshakes, but with their
hustle and everyday love for the game, though neither has seen any love from
scouting director, Tim Wilkins, and his team.

Though it would pain me to see them leave, Ramirez and
LePage don’t deserve to be in Boise, and, if they return next season, questions
should be asked of the Cubs’ scouting “genius.”

With only 12 home games left in the season, Hawks fans are
running out of time to see possibly two of the best players to call Boise home.

Hawks road update, playoff procedures

After what seemed like an eternal road trip, the Boise Hawks
will wrap up their eight game stint away from Memorial Stadium Monday, and will
resume play at home on Wednesday.

While on the road, the Hawks capped a July month that
yielded little success and a drastic drop in the Northwest League East Division
standings. In July, the Cubs’ Class-A affiliate went 13-16, dropping them out
of contention for the first-half playoff position.

This season, the winner of each division, in each half of
the season, will clinch a playoff position come September. If one team wins the
division in both halves of the season, the second place team will assume the
final playoff spot.

Though the Hawks are currently 22-27 this season, their
second half record (3-8) will determine their postseason involvement.

For Boise to participate in the playoffs this September,
they need to either win the East Division outright or finish second to the
first-half division winner, Spokane.

The Everett Aquasox and the Spokane Indians have already
secured their positions in the playoffs after winning the West and East
divisions respectively.

Currently, the Yakima Bears (25-24) are in first place in
the East Division with a second-half record of 7-4.

Though unsupportive of their playoff push, the Hawks were
forced to forfeit against the Aquasox, after failing to return to the field
following a 20 minute rain delay Saturday night.

The Hawks will kick off their three-game home stand against
the Tri-City Dust Devils Wednesday, followed by a five-game series against the
Everett Aquasox; two crucial series for the Boise’s postseason future.

Szczur on the move, Hawks reunited with former local star

matt szczur.jpg

The Boise Hawks front office announced the newest set of
moves by the Chicago Cubs, which includes recent standout Matt Szczur, just
before their five-game series against the Vancouver Canadians.

Szczur and third baseman George Matheus were promoted to
Class-A Peoria to join 2009 Boise standout, Hak-Ju Lee; while three players –
Alvaro Sosa, Marcos Perez and Wes Darvill — were demoted to the Mesa Cubs in
the Arizona Rookie League for further instruction.

In 18 games for the Hawks this season, Szczur is leading the
team in average (.397) and on-base percentage (.439) , and is third in runs
(17) and doubles (9) for the club.

Matheus was sent down to the Hawks after starting the 2010
season in Peoria, where he played in 16 games, hitting .160 with an OBP of only
.208. After returning to the Hawks, Matheus had a .237 batting average, while
increasing his OBP to .423.

Joining the Hawks for the home stand is former Centennial
High School pitcher, Jordan Latham, who went 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA for the Hawks
in 2007. Latham went 1-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 35 appearances for the Peoria
Chiefs this season.

Three rookies were also added to Boise’s roster Wednesday;
infielders Ryan Cuneo and Dustin Harrington, as well as pitcher Eric Rice, will
be joining the team from the AZL.

The Hawks (19-19) currently sit at second place in the East
Division to the Spokane Indians after losing five in a row, including a series
sweep by the Yakima Bears.

Fans should look to see how Boise responds after losing one
of its most consistent hitters, Szczur, who has provided a large amount of
offensive support for a lackluster lineup at times.

Save it aint so: Corey Martin continues to dominate Northwest League hitters

corey martin.jpg

On Saturday night, in front of 3,901 fans at
Memorial Stadium, the Boise Hawks held on to defeat the Yakima Bears, 4-3, as a
preemptive celebration of  our great nation’s
birthday. The real story of the night was, however, the collaborative team
success by the Hawks; and ultimately the triumph of closer Corey Martin, who has
the Northwest League best, six saves in as many opportunities.

Martin has a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings pitched for the
Hawks and shut down an attempted comeback by the Bears in the eighth and ninth
innings. In little over one inning pitched Saturday, he also had three
strikeouts, fanning three of the final four Yakima batters with one home run

Boise’s famed closer wasn’t the only contributor
against the Bears; however, first baseman Richard Jones provided the majority
of the Hawks offensive production in the sixth spot in the lineup. Jones went
2-for-4 with a double and a single that drove in two strong RBI in the sixth
inning, despite striking out twice to start the game.


The first five hitters in the Hawks lineup – Alvaro Ramirez,
Pierre LePage, Jose Morelli, Brandon May and Micah Gibbs – went  3-for-17, and average of .176.

On the mound for the Hawks, John Mincone had 4.2
quality innings pitched, giving up six hits and two runs to match his three strikeouts.
Making his third professional appearance, Eric Jokisch was awarded his first
win of the year, throwing one inning Saturday, with four strikeouts and one


According to’s Chicago Cubs beat writer,
Carrie Muskat, first-round draft pick Hayden Simpson was expected to be
assigned to a minor league team this month, but has come down with a “viral
infection” and won’t be reporting until he is healthy. 

Three Is Company Too: The catcher position gets crowded with new addition

micah gibbs.jpg

According to a Thursday press release by the Hawks
front office, the Chicago Cubs have sent 2010 third round draft choice Micah
Gibbs to Class-A Boise from their Mesa based rookie-team. He is now the third
catcher on the Hawks roster, along with 22nd rounder, Jeff Vigurs, and two-year
Hawk, Jose Guevara.

Though the catcher position may seem more crowded
than a Twilight Saga Premier, Gibbs’ arrival couldn’t be more needed – Vigurs and
Guevara are both struggling offensively with .188 and .097 batting averages

Before being drafted, Gibbs hit .388 with 10 home
runs and 60 RBI for the Louisiana State University Tigers, earning him 2010
All-Southeastern Conference status.

In his 2009 collegiate season, Gibbs received ABCA
(American Baseball Coaches Assosiation) Gold Glove honors and was placed on the
SEC’s All-Defensive Team individually, while catching for the 2009 College
World Series Champion Tigers as a sophomore.

The previous season, Gibbs was named a First-Team Freshman
All-American by Baseball America – an organization devoted to following
promising prospects in the collegiate and minor league ranks.

As with all minor league coaches, Jody Davis will
attempt to award ample playing time to each of these emerging catchers, but in
the end, the best will see the most playing time.

In the five games that he’s played in, Vigurs is
3-16 with an 0-11 slump currently underway; while Guevara is 0-14 in his last
four games. Defensively, the pair has a combined five errors – despite that
Vigurs has the second least playing time on the team.

New players can add a new excitement to a young team
that has been struggling of late. The Hawks received four new players from the
draft: left-handed pitcher, Eric Jokisch, right-handed pitcher, Aaron Kurcz, in
fielder, Pierre LePage and Gibbs.

In his sophomore season with Northwestern
University, Jokisch was 12-9 with a 5.48 ERA. Teammate of first-overall pick
Bryce Harper, Arron Kurcz was selected with the 310th pick by the Cubs after
going 3-3 in 35 innings of relief with the College of Southern Nevada. Lepage
was selected in the 13th round by the Cubs after hitting .327 with three home
runs and 57 RBI in his junior season with Connecticut.

Gibbs is most likely to make the quickest impact for
Boise, because of the current state of the catcher position, until the still
unknown arrival of first-round pick Hayden Simpson. His strong defensive skills
behind the plate and above average power should add more stability in the
middle of the batting order. 

The arrival of Hayden Simpson: “We have no idea.”

draft - hayden simpson.jpg

of Wednesday afternoon, the Boise Hawks coaching staff still has, “no idea” on
the arrival of Hayden Simpson – the first-round selection in the 2010 First
Year Player’s Draft by the Chicago Cubs – according to Hawks pitching coach,
Jeff Fassero.

Manager of the Hawks, Todd Rahr was also amiss for a time table on the number
16 pick’s arrival, but said that fans may be able to see Simpson and fellow
2010 draftees as early Friday or on the ensuing home stand against Yakima in

Simpson’s notoriety to baseball junkies (like myself) and Chicago Cubs executives,
Simpson could slip under the radar of most fans according to Rahr.

you have a number one guy, then that’s a good story for the press and we’ll get
some good media out of it and subsequently you’re hoping that will translate
into ticket sales,” said Rahr, “but in general, especially in baseball, the
draftees are so unknown – no matter if you’re a real baseball fan or not – that
it’s a rarity that a first round draft pick carries enough of a name to really
make a real difference at the game.”

matter the skill level of former fifth round draft pick Jeff Samardzija – more notable
for his tenure as a wide receiver at Notre Dame than his wild two-seam fastball
– fans in 2006 chose to buy tickets because they thought they were seeing a “big
name” player, and at that point, they were right.

for the young draft pick, Simpson and Samardzija have a lot in common. After
his arrival, they will both have entered enormous amounts of expectations and
pressure in Boise. The difference is that Samardzija entered into the Cubs
organization when the club was a first-place playoff team in the National
League Central Division, when the team was a pitching breading ground.

however, is entering a Chicago Cubs organization trying to stay afloat in the
NL Central, where the rotation is bigger mess than Louisiana, something that
Samardzija helped create.  

potential is immeasurable and the talent is clearly there, but at the end of
his career, I hope that Hayden Simpson has more than a beer and food vendor at
Memorial Stadium named after himself to show for it.  

After three games, Hawks show top-heavy hitting ability

brandon may.jpgThough only three games have been played by the Hawks in a still very young 2010 season, Boise has shown a very lopsided hitting performance throughout the lineup against the Yakima Bears.

Yes, the Hawks won their first opening series in God knows how long (at least since 2005 from the records I found), but the victories were delivered by the hitting successes of three players: Brandon May, Wes Darvill and Jesus Morelli. Combined, the three sluggers have accounted for nine of the team’s 11 RBIs, 14 of the team’s 21 hits and five of the team’s 12 runs; while averaging .391 to the rest of the team’s .089.
Clearly there is no reason to get alarmed after the first week of baseball, but some strengths and weaknesses thus far should be highlighted.
In each of the first three games of the season, South Korea national, Na Kyung-Min has led off for the club and has a .000 batting average in 11 at bats with three walks and three runs scored. Though the statistics may not praise Na early, his numbers do show strong plate discipline and base running ability (Na has two stolen bases on the season). In addition, the Chicago Cubs are no notorious for finding strong Korean talent (see Hak-Ju Lee, 2009), so we’ll give him some time to develop.
Hawks veteran, George Matheus is 1-8 through the first three games, and also has a low average of .091.
On the pitching side of things, skipper Jody Davis is limiting his hurlers to around three innings, while Juan Yasser Serrano (1-0) stayed on the mound through the fourth inning in Sunday’s win against the Bears.
Davis will send Austin Kirk to the mound against the hated, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Memorial Stadium’s, Monday night opener. He is in his second season with the club and will try to improve on his 2009 statistics when he went 1-1 with a 5.40 in two appearances.

Welcome to the Big Leagues: Joseph Zeller and Jeff Vigurs experience professional baseball for the first time

jeff vigurs.jpg

BOISE — Despite the uncooperative actions of the Treasure
Valley weather gods, summer is among us and the 2010 Northwest League season is
just two days away.  Media Day has come
and gone from Memorial Stadium, marking the return of the Boise Hawks and the
renewal of minor league relationships.

Though the Chicago Cubs placed 26 players on the Hawks’ 2010
roster – 15 of which have previously played for Boise – only two were selected
by the club in this year’s First-Year Players Draft just nine days ago.

Jeff Vigurs and Joseph Zeller were both inducted into the
life of professional baseball when they were selected in the 22nd and 28th
rounds respectively, and were the only two draftees to find their way onto the
Hawks’ 2010 roster.

Vigurs was selected by the Cubs as a catcher, after totaling
four home runs, 13 doubles and 41 RBIs to match his .333 batting average as a
Bryant University Bulldog in his junior season.
Although he saw success in college, Vigurs has already felt the drastic
transition from collegiate to professional baseball before even playing in a

“It’s a lot different than college,” said Vigurs, “and it’s
really exciting right now. I’ve only been [with the Cubs] a couple of days and
I’ve already been to Arizona and Boise the next day, so it’s been nice to
finally settle down.”


A Mission Viejo native, Zeller, formally a right-handed
pitcher for The Masters College in Santa Clarita, California, was drafted by
the Cubs in the 28th round after going 5-7 with a 5.24 ERA in 91 innings for
the Mustangs. Zeller previously played second base until his senior season, and
played his freshman season for Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.

Like Vigurs, Zeller expressed a feeling of excitement and
confusion when first experiencing professional baseball.

“It’s really exciting, but the initial reaction was just
trying to figure out what’s going on because you get thrown right into it and
just trying to figure it all out,” said Zeller.

For rookies like Virgus and Zeller, it takes the leadership
of experienced players like George Matheus, in addition to the coaching staff,
to develop young players into confident teammates. Matheus will be making his
second stop with the Hawks, after beginning the season with the Class-A Peoria
Chiefs where he hit .208 with four RBIs in 16 games.

“What I say for the new guys is that the most important
thing is, ‘don’t change how you play; if you play hard, keep playing hard.’ The
difference now is that there are more people in the stands. Last Year was my
first year playing in front of a lot of people, in this ball park, and I see
for the first time a lot of people watching me play.”

“I understand that it’s their first time and they’ll feel a
little bit e nervous, everyone is a little bit nervous,” said Matheus.

With the leadership of veterans and returners from last
season, Zeller and Vigurs are sure to have a successful debut in professional