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.