Results tagged ‘ Aaron Kurcz ’

I don’t care what language you speak, that’s just funny…

The first-half of the 2010 season was memorable in a lot of ways. The Boise Hawks set some personal records, made national news, and made an impact on the community.

Like most journalists, I always have my digital voice recorder handy. Over the course of the first-half of the season, I was able to catch some pretty funny quotes from former and current Boise Hawks players.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites. Hope you enjoy them!

“A buddy of mine owned a fireworks stand and he did a big fireworks show every year. Well one year, the stand caught on fire and there were mortars going off everywhere.”
Former Hawks OF Runey Davis on his 4th of July memories.

“I remember when I was 12 years old, I got turned down by a girl on the 4th of July. I tried to approach a girl at a local fireworks show and got rejected. I’m still in the process of recovery but I am back to where I want to be (laughs).”
Former Hawks RHP Corey Martin on his 4th of July memories.

“I actually didn’t finish the pitch the right way; I was turned around once I let the ball go. But I was able to see the ball come at me and I got my glove down there in time to snag it. A friend who plays for Salem-Keizer sent me a text last night and said “I’m at a bar and you made it onto Top Plays!”. It’s always been a dream to make it on Sports Center.”
LHP John Mincone on making ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays”.

“I was actually worried. I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan my whole life and I grew up in Chicago and went to Northwestern University. A lot of my friends got on me pretty good about being a Cardinals fan drafted by the Cubs.”
LHP Eric Jokisch and his reaction to being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

“At first I was just excited to be drafted. Then when I found out it was the Chicago Cubs, I figured it would be a great organization to move up in because we haven’t won a World Series in so long (laughs).”
2B Pierre LePage on career advancement with the Cubs.

“My host family has been wonderful. They make me breakfast in the morning, help me with my laundry, and they even make my bed for me. It’s actually a little better than life at home (laughs).”
Former Hawks OF Matt Szczur on life with his host family.

“It’s a lot nicer going back to a home than a hotel in Mesa, AZ.”
RHP Aaron Kurcz on the living conditions (host families) in Boise.

“When I told a lot of my friends I was going to be a professional baseball player they were like “I’ll see you in Chicago.”
2B LePage on the misconceptions that people have about minor league baseball.

“I came from such a small school (I had 25 people in my graduating class) so there wasn’t much competition and I was able to throw fastballs and do whatever I wanted. Once we got to college, the kids got bigger. I mean, look at that guy (points to Matt Szczur).”
Jokisch on the transition from high school to college baseball.

“Matty Ott set LSU single-season saves record in 2009. In his first appearance, which wasn’t a save situation, I could tell he was kinda nervous,” said Gibbs. “I tried to calm him down as much as I could with words, but I could still tell he was nervous. As I was jogging back to home plate, the “Chicken Dance” was playing. So I was like “why not” and I got behind home plate and started doing the “Chicken Dance”.
C Micah Gibbs reflecting on his playing days at Louisiana State University.

“I think he hit that ball 500 feet!”- Corey Martin
“Nah, more like 700.”- Myself
Corey’s post-game reaction after giving up a home run on July 3rd.

“A.J, from now on when we are winning, you stay in the clubhouse! I’ll manage the game, you stay here (laughs).”
Hawks Manager Jody Davis on A.J. being a possible “bad luck charm”.

“It’s called planned obsolescence. They make minor changes to a product that should have come with it 3 years ago so idiots like you will buy it.”
LePage’s reaction to LHP Austin Kirk buying the iPhone 4.

“Brandon, you need to get on base. Everyone in the stands is getting drunk because of you!”
Jody Davis on 3B Brandon May being responsible for 4 consecutive beer batters in Eugene.

“Jesus, could you please tell Larry (Suarez) that I need him to fill this packet out as soon as possible.”- Myself
“(Laughs) You know he speaks English, right?”- Jesus Morelli
Me asking Hawks OF Jesus Morelli to translate to someone who speaks English.

“This is why you are single; you spend your free time looking up fantasy baseball statistics.”
Hawks Director of Sales Andy Simon assessing my “dating life” (or lack there of).

“There was so much excitement and adrenaline that people were yelling in the dog pile on the field. Louis Coleman, who was the SEC Pitcher of the Year, closed it out for us. I don’t think there is anyone in baseball who was more of an automatic win than him. When we were in the dog pile it’s kinda funny; he kissed me on the forehead and said “I love you man” (laughs). It was a little weird.”
C Gibbs talking about winning the 2009 College World Series.

“The night before the first playoff game I pitched, I was walking through the bar. I never drink the night before a game, especially when I am pitching. I see Lou Pinella and he says “sit down and have a beer with me”. At first I said no but then he said “what’s the worst that could happen? We are down 0-2 in the series. If we lose, we go home. Stay here and have a couple of beers with me; no need to rest.” I ended going 8.2 innings and we won.”
Hawks Pitching Coach Jeff Fassero on his memories of Lou Pinella.

“He struggled to find the plate early in the inning. I was just going up there and making sure that I got a good pitch to hit. He called a ball in the previous at-bat that was the same pitch that he threw me in this at-bat. I guess being short does have some benefits.”
2B LePage on a drawing a bases-loaded walk to beat Spokane on July 19th.

Thanks to Hawks photographer Scott McDaniel for the photos!

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks


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“True Life: I’m a Boise Hawks Rookie” Part 2

It’s not easy moving from life as you know it and going to a place (that’s kinda in the middle of no where) and starting a career. It’s even tougher when you 18 to 22 years old and trying to accomplish this.

I had a chance to sit down for a round-table discussion with six of the Boise Hawks baseball players and talk to them about life as a rookie. In this interview we look at the transition from college to the pros, life with their host families, and we even discuss life after baseball.

The six players I sat down with include 2B Pierre LePage, SS Elliot Soto, OF Matt Szczur, LHP Eric Jokisch, RHP Aaron Kurcz, and C Micah Gibbs.

Does the professional game move faster or slower than college?

PL: “The game is definitely faster but sometimes you might think it is slower because you don’t have the same action with wooden bats as you would metal bats. The defense is better and pitchers are making better pitches and getting out of innings quicker.”

EJ: “I think you pitch different at this level. The wooden bat is definitely a big thing because you pitch more inside and try to get on their hands. The hitters are definitely better. It’s the best of the best from the college and high school ranks so you have to concentrate more on hitting spots and making the right pitch.”

AK: “The biggest thing that I have learned is that first-pitch strikes are a big priority. If you can get that, you have a better chance of getting the guy out and throwing what you want to throw to him.”

MG: “The game is definitely a lot faster because from the catcher’s role, you don’t get to look into the dugout and get signs for which pitch to call. I like it because it has helped me grow up and you are more into the game. I feel like I am able to work more the pitcher and I have to know who is hitting, who is on deck, and who is in the hole so I know how to pitch the guys that are in there. It speeds the game up so much.”

How has the transition been from aluminum to wooden bats?

ES: “We have all used wooden bats at one point or another. We know how it is but to hit it consistently, you have to tweak your swing a little bit and square the ball up.”

MG: “From the catching stand point, I am able to call fastballs a lot more because of the pitching staff we have. Not everyone I played with at LSU got drafted, so what that is saying is that you are able eliminate some of the guys that can’t throw as hard or don’t have as good of off-speed stuff. As you move up, pitchers stuff is getting better and you can beat people with wood bats a lot easier.”

Do you plan on going back to school and getting your degree?  

EJ: “There is no doubt I plan on going back to school. I went to Northwestern because of it’s academics. I’m not going to waste the three years I was there. I am going to finish my degree while I am playing baseball and work in sports psychology if baseball doesn’t work out the way I want it to.”

PL: “I want to go back and finish my degree as soon as possible. I think the longer you wait to get it, the more guys get weeded out on going back and getting their degree. I plan on going to law school is baseball doesn’t work out for me.”

ES: “I was studying communications at Creighton University. I will more than likely head back but if I don’t for whatever reason, I will probably work in our family business. We own a Mexican restaurant.”

When you told your friends and family that you were a professional baseball player, did they have any misconceptions?

PL: “When I told a lot of my friends I was going to be a professional baseball player they were like “I’ll see you in Chicago” (laughs). I think a lot of people have a mis-conception about the farm system and how many steps there are to get to “The Show”. It’s a long road and a journey more than anything.”

EJ: “It’s a long road and there are only a few “Stephen Strasburg’s” who can go out there and jump through everything that quickly. It’s a learning process in terms of how the game is played on the professional level.”

What’s your biggest area of opportunity in terms of your game?

AK: “I think having Jeff Fassero as a pitching coach is going to help me a lot. He played in the big leagues for over 15 years and having a person with the kind of knowledge as my pitching coach is big. I can ask him about what I am doing wrong or doing right and he can help me out a lot more than anyone else who has coached me before.”

ES: “Being able to play with these guys and learn from people who know far more about the game than I do is going to help me. Plus, it’s nice to focus on just baseball and not worry about anything else.”

What do you plan on accomplishing before you leave Boise?

EJ: “Our goal is to just improve and make ourselves worthy of playing at the next level. The ultimate goal is to keep improving until we can’t anymore.”

PL: “Improve everyday on everything you can. When I leave here, all I want and all I ask for is that people remember me as someone who played hard and played the game the right way.”

MS: “Pierre sprints out of the dugout to second base every time no matter what kind of at bat he had. It’s awesome to play with a player who is like that because you know he will do anything for the team to win.”

AK: “The goal is to just become a better player and learn things that I have never learned before in order to get guys out.”

Does the baseball community, both major leagues and minor leagues, over-value stats?

EJ: “I think there is a place for them and as a player you shouldn’t worry about stats. If you let that get in your head too much, it can hurt you more than help you. It’s not always a good measuring stick because you could be out there trying to improve on something and you may give up two or three runs trying to do that. If you ERA goes up, people will begin to look at you and think “this guy can’t pitch”.”

ES: “I think with position players, stats can be a little mis-leading. If you ground out but advance a runner on base, then you did your job and moved the runner.”

PL: “There are a lot of team players out who don’t necessarily fill the stat books but they bring an element to the team that can everyone better (as opposed to a guy who hits .300). There is way more to the game than just stats.”

MS: “When I got here, I thought everyone was going to be selfish and no one would be a team player. It was a reality check for me because when I got here, every one on this team cares more about the team than themselves and guys here don’t worry about stats as much.”

AK: “As long as you go out there and keep getting the job done for your team, that is all that matters. If you have an ERA that is high, but you still got 10 saves, that’s 10 times you got the job done and helped your team win.”

MG: “To be honest, I truly hate statistics because I over-think them way too much. I think they are over-rated because you see a lot of people get those infield singles and guys get hits when there is no one on base. They need to have a statistic for getting the job done that needs to be done for the team.”

What has been the tough transition; high school to college or college to professional?

EJ: “I came from such a small school (I had 25 people in my graduating class) so there wasn’t much competition and I was able to throw fastballs and do whatever I wanted. Once we got to college, the kids got bigger. I mean, look at that guy (points to Matt Szczur, everyone laughs). Guys are big like him and they can hit the ball farther.”

ES: “I think in high school
kids are a little more relaxed about the game and are just playing for a bunch of other reasons. College players are there because they love the game and they take it seriously.”

MG: “College to professional has been tougher for me because you have a wood bat in your hands and it is a little less forgiving. The guys in college that you play with are going to be the same guys you play with for two to three years, so that helps. Another thing that is rough is that a lot of the foreign players use a splitter and that can be tough to catch because no one at LSU threw that and it is a pitch that I am not used to seeing it or catching it.”

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks

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“True Life: I’m a Boise Hawks Rookie” Part 1

It’s not easy moving from life as you know it and going to a place (that’s kinda in the middle of no where) and starting a career. It’s even tougher when you 18 to 22 years old and trying to accomplish this.

I had a chance to sit down for a round-table discussion with six of the Boise Hawks baseball players and talk to them about life as a rookie. In this interview we look at the transition from college to the pros, life with their host families, and we even discuss life after baseball.

The six players I sat down with include 2B Pierre LePage, SS Elliot Soto, OF Matt Szczur, LHP Eric Jokisch, RHP Aaron Kurcz, and C Micah Gibbs.

When you found out you were drafted by the Chicago Cubs, what was your initial thoughts?

PL: “At first I was just excited to be drafted. Then when I found out it was the Chicago Cubs, I figured it would be a great organization to move up in because we haven’t won a World Series in so long (group laughs). I was just happy to finally make it and get to where I’ve wanted to be my whole life.”

EJ: “I was actually worried. I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan my whole life and I grew up in Chicago and went to Northwestern University. A lot of my friends got on me pretty good about being a Cardinals fan drafted by the Cubs.”

ES: “I’m from Illinois and I have been a die hard Cubs fan my whole life. I was shocked when I found out.”

What was life like from the time you got drafted to the time you went to Mesa, AZ (rookie ball)?

MS: “My deal was a little different because I am going to be playing football in the Fall. I had to wait for the commissioner to sign off on my contract, so I was actually kinda nervous and worried. During the summer, I was getting paid a salary and I didn’t know if it was going to go through. I just wanted to come out here and get my feet wet so if I come back and play after the football season is over, I know what to expect.”

MG: “I talked to Jim Hendry (Cubs Vice President/General Manager) a couple of days after the Draft and he told me to take a couple of weeks off. I played 63 of 65 games in college and he wanted me to have a rest.  I wanted to come out here right away but he told me he wanted me to take two weeks off. A week before I headed off to Mesa, I went lifting, running, and began to hit to get myself back into shape.”

AK: “During the season it was hectic because there were a ton of scouts at every game. Once the Draft and everything played out, things began to settle down. I spent time with family and friends and got myself ready to play ball.”

What has been you general impression of Boise, ID?

EJ: “It’s a very clean city. There are very supportive fans at the stadium everyday and anytime you go out and say you play for the Hawks, they know who you are.”

AK: “When I first heard about Boise, ID I didn’t how big the town was. I figured it would be a town of 10,000 people. But it’s a nice town and there is always a good crowd at every game.”

PL: “It’s more of a populated town as opposed to a city because it is very clean and it is beautiful out here with the mountains. This is a great atmosphere to play baseball. Having all of the fans, it makes the grind easier. We play 76 games with four off days. If we only had four fans in the stands each game, it would be harder to get out of bed and play the game. It makes us have more of a team atmosphere and really go out there and win not just for our team, but the crowd that’s behind us.”  

How has the host family program helped you in this transition from home?

MS: “My host family has been wonderful. They make me breakfast in the morning, help me with my laundry, and they even make my bed for me. It’s actually a little better than life at home (laughs). They are great people who are willing to do anything for you, so it’s definitely an awesome thing to have.”

MG: “My host family has been great. Anything I could ask for, they pretty much have it or if they don’t, they get it in a day. They asked me to make a list of things I wanted to eat and I was hoping to get a few things out of the list and they pretty much got everything on there. They have exceeded all of my expectations.”

AK: “It’s a lot nicer going back to a home than a hotel in Mesa, AZ.”

EJ: “Life in Mesa wasn’t as good because you are in a hotel room until it’s time to go play baseball. Up here, there are things that you can go do in the little amount of free time that you have and I think that is necessary to keep you wanting to play the game.”

Do you miss home and how often do you get to talk to your families?

EJ: “All of us went to college, so we have been away from home for quite some time. Right now it feels a lot like summer baseball but next year when it is full-time thing, it will sink in a little more.”

ES: “I talk to my family every couple of days. It’s nice just to talk to them and see how things are gong with them and they always ask me how things are going out here. Due to the time change, I usually try to talk to them in the morning.”

With 13 non-US born players on this roster, how has communication on and off the field been?

EJ: “The game is played the same way pretty much everywhere, so you have faith in your infield and outfield to make the plays. I don’t think the differences in languages or countries should matter.”

MS: “It’s a lot of fun to communicate with this guys and figure things out. We use a lot of hand signals and Kyung-Min Na speaks English and Spanish, so he helps me out in the outfield.”

MG: “It’s been fun trying to learn their language and communicate with them. On the field, we are lucky to have at least one guy in the infield who can help translate some things for me. In baseball, there are some universal words that help out like fastball, curveball, slider, and change up. The hardest part is trying to get signs with a guy on second base. A lot of people want to go with the first sign and they can pick that up pretty easily on second.”

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks

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Don’t rebuild, just reload.. New Faces in Boise! 6/28/2010

One down, six more to go. No, I’m not talking about the bills that are due (it’s expensive living on your own). I’m talking about the remaining home stretches left on the Hawks 2010 schedule.

This being my first home stretch, I got to say things went pretty darn well. I only messed up the starting lineups once (and was quick to correct it) and we had minimal issues, although the Internet has decided it will only work when it wants to. “Hicks and Chicks” night was a huge success that netted our highest attendance of the season, and the Hawks are currently third in terms of average attendance in the Northwest League!

Unfortunately, three of our highest attendance nights resulted in loses for the Hawks. Salem-Keizer spoiled the fun with 5-2, 11-0, and 9-1 victories on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But even though the Hawks had some struggles for the opening home stretch, there is a silver lining to the cloud. The reason? The Hawks are about ready to get an injection of young, talented players who could really give the club a boost.

The Hawks have plenty of established talent. 3B Brandon May is currently in the Top 5 in the Northwest League in home runs (2) and he leads the league in RBI with 11. RHP Corey Martin is second in the Northwest League with three saves and CF Kyung-Min Na has made enough plays to have his own Sports Center “Top 10 Plays”.

Getting on base and keeping people off base has been the issue up to this point. The Hawks are batting .204 as a team and on the mound, they have a league high in ERA (4.40) and WHIP (1.60), two categories you don’t want to be first in. The solution to this problem? Bring in three, Top 13 draft choices who feature all the physical tools to contribute to the Hawks now, not later.

RHP Aaron Kurcz (10th round selection) will be joining the Hawks after spending most of 2010 at the College of Southern Nevada, where he went 3-3 with an 4.11 ERA. The 6’1″ Kurcz has a plus fastball that hits around 92-94 mph and his curveball is also a strong pitch in his arsenal. Between those two pitches, he was able to hold the opposition to a .225 batting average while striking out 52 in 35 innings at Southern Nevada.

The Hawks will also get a 6’3″ LHP with a great fastball, curveball, and change-up in Eric Jokisch. Jokisch is a Cubs’ 11th round selection out of Northwestern, where he went 5-7 with a 4.39 ERA. Jokisch comes to Boise with an impressive resume. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2008. Having a tall lefty in the pitching staff will be a welcomed addition to the Hawks, who only have three other lefties.

In the field, the Hawks will add even more speed with the addition of IF Pierre LePage, a 13th round draft choice out of University of Connecticut. LePage swiped 29 bags this season at Connecticut and he hit .327 with 3 home runs, 57 RBI, and three strikeouts in 278 at bats. LePage has hit at least .300 in each of his three seasons at Connecticut.

Now that you know the players, the big question is how they will impact the team? LePage should make an immediate impact. He is a complete player and with the speed and ability to get on base, he should help provide some stability at the top of the order (the Hawks have changed their leadoff hitter in the lineup four times).

Kurcz has already made an appearance this season with the Hawks and based on what we know, he could be a solid reliever. In Sunday’s win against Eugene, Kurcz pitched a scoreless inning of relief and struck out two while surrendering no zero walks. Kurcz could be the bridge that the Hawks are looking for to spell either Alvaro Sosa or Corey Martin in the 9th inning.

Jokisch is the only one of the bunch that we have not seen in action up to this point. Jokisch has the physical make up that managers covet. He’s tall, a lefty, and he has three solid pitches, including a deadly change-up. It’s more than like they will try Jokisch in the rotation and feature three lefties, alongside John Mincone and Austin Kirk. But if Jokisch is switched to the bullpen, he could be a great compliment to lefty Marcos Perez . Only time will tell.

Usually when you lose three out of five games, there is not a lot of reason for optimism. But if the draft picks gel with an already solid nucleus of players, the Hawks could be a favorite in a tight division race. And with the current playoff structure the way it is, every win counts.

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
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