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..
Media Relations Assistant