Tagged: Chicago Cubs

Hawks fall to Volcanoes in opener, lineup becomes more balanced

BOISE
— Typically, losing efforts are marked by distressed fans and heckling
critics, but in the Boise Hawks Monday night opener at Memorial Stadium,
baseball fans seemed satisfied with the Hawks 5-2 loss to the Salem-Keizer
Volcanoes. In the seventh inning, with a three run deficit, the sold out crowd
actively participated in their rendition of the timeless “Macarena” dance.

Austin
Kirk received the loss for Boise, going four innings and giving up five hits,
three runs and two walks. Though he gave up two homeruns in the game, Kirk
still showed strong movement on his pitches while earning five strikeouts.

Although
the loss can be disheartening to a young ball club, the Hawks season opener was
highlighted by a complete offensive attack throughout the batting order,
something absent in their previous series against the Yakima Bears. The Hawks
won their in Yakima, 2-1.

“Most
of those guys down at the bottom [of the order] are more speed guys, so we have
to create a little havoc down there, so that we can at least put a little
pressure on the defense,” said first-year manager of the Hawks, Jody Davis.

When
they played the Bears, Boise was carried by the offensive production of Brandon
May, Jesus Morelli and Wes Darvill at the bottom of the order. They combined
for nine of the team’s 11 RBIs, 14 of the team’s 21 hits and five of the team’s
12 runs.

Despite
a relatively calm first two innings, Kirk began to lose composure in the fourth
inning when he gave up back-to-back homeruns to Salem Keizer right fielder,
Jose Medina and designated hitter, Jesse Shriner, on consecutive pitches over
the right and left field walls respectively.

It
was clear that newly appointed Davis aimed at giving Kirk a set amount of
innings before the start of the game after he chose to leave Kirk to finish the
fourth following a visit to the mound.

“I
thought Kirk did a pretty good job even though he gave up those two home runs,”
said Davis. “We’re developing these guys, and they’re all on a pretty strict
pitch count and when they’re out there we expect to win some games. Developing
these guys and getting them to Chicago is the ultimate goal.”

Boise
narrowed the gap with the Volcanoes in the bottom of the fourth inning when
Richard Jones doubled to score Jesus Morelli from second after Morelli turned a
single into a double on an error by Salem-Keizer third baseman, Kyle Mach.
Jones was left on base to end the fourth with a 3-1 score in favor of the
Volcanoes. Jones was one of two Hawks left on base.

After
taking over for Kirk in the top of the fifth inning, right handed pitcher
Carlos Rojas took control of the game. Despite an error by Boise shortstop Arismendy
Alcantara that scored the Volcanoes’ fourth run, Rojas was able to force
Salem-Keizer into an inning-ending double play.

Rojas
finished with one walk, three strikeouts and one earned run in three innings.

Darvill – one half of the 6-4-3 double play in the fifth – was able to cut the
Volcanoes lead down to two in the sixth, when his ground ball out scored Alvaro
Ramirez from third following a sacrifice by Boise catcher, Jose Guevara.

The
final blow came by way of a pass ball in the top of the eighth inning, scoring
Kyle Mach of Salem-Keizer, increasing the lead to 5-2 Volcanoes.

Christopher
Huseby and Andres Quezada each pitched one inning for the Hawks. Huseby gave up
two hits and one run and had one walk with one strikeout.

Though
a loss wasn’t the desirable way to kick off the season for anybody, the
fireworks show to cap off the night was met by cheers and laughter from
thousands of fans, relieved that the true first day of summer had finally
arrived.

The
Hawks will try and once again emerge above the .500 mark with a win over the
Volcanoes tomorrow night. Game time is once again 7:15 pm, and gates will open
to fans at 6:45 pm. 

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
game.

“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.”

joe_zeller.jpg

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
baseball.

MLB Draft: Analysis of the Chicago Cubs First 15 Draft Choices

ReggieGoldenStillBig.jpgDay one of the MLB First-Year Players Draft began with the most predictable draft pick in baseball history, when the Washington Nationals selected 17-year-old phenom Bryce Harper. 

The Chicago Cubs, however, made one of the more shocking picks of the first round, when they selected the unknown Southern Arkansas right-hander, Hayden Simpson, with the 16th pick. Despite the lack of name recognition, many analysts have jumped on the Cubs scouting director, Tim Wilken, who also selected rising star, Tyler Colvin, in 2006, and have deemed Simpson as one of the safest picks in the draft thus far.
Surprisingly, the Draft did continue past the first round, and the following is a summary of the first two days of draft choices by the Chicago Cubs.
Round 1, Pick 16: Hayden Simpson, RHP (Southern Arkansas University)
Simpson was a surprising pick at 16 to say the least, but has been known to throw a 97-mph fastball, to match two devastating off-speed pitches. Simpson finished second in D-ll Player of the Year voting in 2010, though his jaw-dropping statistics in his junior season–13-1 record with a 1.81 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 15 starts–speak much louder than any award could.
Ranked 191 by Baseball America as a pitcher, Simpson was the first choice by Wilken, and once again, he knows something we still don’t: How to scout.
Round 2, Pick 65: Reggie Golden, CF (Wetumpka High School)
Despite believing that he would be picked within the first 35 picks of the draft, Wetumpka High School product, Reggie Golden (above right) fell to the Cubs who selected him with the 65th pick in the second round of the First-Year Players Draft. If he chooses to deny Chicago’s offer, Golden has signed with the University of Alabama.
Golden is classified as a “self-taught” hitter, with somewhat of a wild swing and inconsistency. Despite the questions surrounding his swing, Golden is a raw five-tool player, with bursts of power and exceptional play to overshadow his faults.
At 5’10”, 210 pounds, Golden is a tank with average range and arm strength, but with the help of the Cubs’ strong farm system, can develop into one of the game’s future greats. With more time on the field, Golden will be on the fast-track to Major League success. Staying at the Alabama may be a better choice for him at the moment, unfortunately.
Round 3, Pick 97: Micah Gibbs, C (Louisiana State University)
In a fairly shallow draft class for catchers, Micah Gibbs is renowned as being one of the most well rounded journeymen in the draft. Gibbs has shown raw power and strong defensive skills while behind the plate for the Louisiana State University Tigers, along with strong range and average arm strength. The 20-year-old hits for good average, posting .294 and .322 in his first two seasons with LSU.
Round 4, Pick 130: Hunter Ackerman, LHP (Louisburg College)
The second pitcher selected by the Cubs in the 2010 Draft, Ackerman went 8-1 with a 1.40 ERA in his freshman season for the Hurricanes. After joining the West Virginia Miners baseball club–a college summer league–however, Ackerman is 1-1 with a 8.21 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.
Round 5, Pick 160: Matthew Szczur, C/OF (Villanova)

For the second straight pick, the Chicago Cubs picked a player with the same first name as the previous player selected, when they chose Matthew Szczur, junior, out of Villanova with the 160th pick of the Draft.  While there, the 19-year-old catcher/outfielder hit .346 with 24 RBI’s as a freshman — yet another hit-for-average player selected by the Cubs.
Round 8, Pick 250: Cameron Greathouse, LHP (Gulf Coast CC)

With yet another somewhat surprising pick, the Cubs selected Cameron Greathouse out of Gulf Coast Community College in Florida. Greathouse had a 3.06 ERA and was 10-2 for the Commodores. The Cubs usually don’t take risks with pitchers with such high ERA’s like Greathouse, but with development, he has strong break on his fast ball and off-speed pitches.
Round 9, Pick 280: Kevin Rhoderick, RHP (Oregon State)

The Chicago Cubs selected Kevin Rhoderick as the third pitcher in their draft class with the 280th pick in the ninth round. While at OSU, Rhoderick won three games as a reliever, with a 8.0 hits per nine innings ratio. Rhoderick has an above average fastball that tops out at about 91 mph, and a sweeping curvball that hits along the high 70s. He also carries a change-up, that floats at about 80 mph. Rhoderick has strong potential as a reliever for the Cubs, and proved himself at a Pac-10 powerhouse as a junior. He was previously selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 18th round of the 2007 Draft, but did not sign.
Round 10, Pick 310: Aaron Kurcz, RHP (College of Southern Nevada)

Not to be shown-up by his world famous teammate — first round draft choice, Bryce Harper — Aaron Kurcz was selected with the 310th pick by the Chicago Cubs, just 10 rounds later than the Phenom.  As a sophomore, Kurcz went 3-3 in 35 inni
ngs pitched while in relief.
Round 11, Pick 340: Eric Jokisch, LHP (Northwestern)

I feel dumber already. The Chicago Cubs selected left-hander, Eric Jokisch out of the prestigious Northwestern University as a junior. In two season, Jokisch was 12-9 with a 5.48 ERA in 2009. Jokisch was previously drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 39th round of the 2007 draft, but rejected the offer.

Round 12, Pick 370: Austin Reed, RHP (Rancho Cucamonga HS)

Austin Reed was selected out of Rancho Cucamonga High School, in California, with the 370th pick in the First-Year Players Draft. Reed throws his fastball around 88-mph and floats his breaking ball at a speed of 73-75 consistently.
Round 13, Pick 400: Pierre LePage, 2B (Connecticut)

Only the second infielder selected by the Chicago Cubs thus far, Pierre LePage –second baseman from the University of Connecticut — became the 400th pick of the 2010 Draft. LePage hit .327 while slugging in three home runs and 57 RBI’s in his 2010 junior season.
Round 14, Pick 430: Colin Richardson, RHP (Winter Haven HS)

With the 430th pick, the Cubs selected Colin RIchardson, a strong pitcher out of Winter Haven High School in Florida. Richardson had a .550 ERA in 2010 in 76 innings pitched. He also showed some strength at the plate, hitting .254 with four doubles in the same season.
Round 15, Pick 460: Elliot Soto, SS (Creighton)

Now the Chicago Cubs have another Soto in their organization, after they selected Elliot Soto with the 460th pick of the Draft out of Creighton. The junior hit three home runs and drove in 28 RBI’s for the Jays, while averaging .297.


Hayden Simpson: Will He Become Another Samardzija-Sized Mess In Chicago?

hayden-simpson.jpgHello Hawks fans! Welcome to the first installment of my Boise Hawks Insider’s blog, geared toward the casual and die-hard fan alike, in order to deliver inside accounts beyond the diamond. This blog will be updated regularly throughout the 2010 summer season, and can be a one-stop-shop for everything Boise Hawks and Chicago Cubs. 

Just 13 days before the start of the Class-A Minor League season, the Chicago Cubs selected right-handed pitcher, Hayden Simpson, with the 16th pick — much to the surprise of draft analysts.
Simpson was absent from the majority of first-round projections, mainly due to his lack of exposure while playing for the Division II, Southern Arkansas Muleriders.
Despite being overlooked in the Draft, the Mangolia, Ark. product posted a 13-1 record, with a 1.81 ERA — ranked 10th among D-ll pitchers — and 131 strikeouts in 15 starts in only his junior season for the Muleriders.
In those 15 starts, Simpson held a 42.2 inning scoreless-innings streak — according to the Cubs’ front office — in addition to three shutouts. During his career at SAU, Simpson went 35-2 with a 2.39 ERA and 323 strikeouts.
Simpson recorded a low-to-mid 90’s fastball in the 2010 season, with a breaking ball achieving a 25 mph speed differential. The lethal combination of off-speed and power allowed Simpson to be ranked second in D-ll in strikeouts and victories for SAU. He was named runner-up for the inaugural Tino Martinez D-ll National Player of the Year award at the end of the season.
Scouting director Tim Wilken will most likely be questioned for selecting the unknown pitcher from Arkansas in the first round, but keep in mind, in his first draft in 2006, Wilken selected an undersized outfielder from Clemson, promising that he would be a successful major league player. That player was Tyler Colvin, and everyone and their mother have heard of his recent success after making the Cubs roster as a result of an incredible spring training.
According to Baseball America, Simpson was the 191st ranked pitcher heading into the first day of the draft, placing him possibly as a late 6th or 7th round pick.
The MLB Network was so surprised about the Cubs’ pick, that they scrambled to design a make-shift nameplate to be placed on the draft board.
In line with past first round draft picks, Simpson will most likely suit up for the Boise Hawks in  July, after making stops in either the Cubs’ Arizona Summer League or Dominican Summer League teams.
Luckily for Simpson, expectations are high, but manageable.
The last pitcher first round draft pick, Andrew Cashner (19th overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Players Draft) , has since been called up to the Chicago Cubs, after only two years in the minor leagues, and is expected to assume the set-up position for the club soon.
As a starting pitcher, however, Cubs’ officials hope that Simpson develop into the same trap that 25-year-old right hander, Jeff Samardzija has become. Samardzija 18.90 ERA with the Cubs this season and 5.89 career ERA in the bigs.
Though both will have made appearances with the Hawks after the conclusion of the 2010 season, the 175 pound right hander has incredible upside and odds are that he won’t become a “BP sized” catastrophe like Samardzija.