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.”
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.
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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.
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