The Hawk Picks Up First Double-A Win

The Cardinals former organizational Top Prospect, Blake Hawksworth, picked up his first Double-A win Saturday. Signed as a draft-and-follow in May of 2002 for $1.475 million, Hawkworth has been plagued with injuries keeping him from developing into a major league pitcher, until maybe now.

Shaun Boyd's solo shot in the bottom of the seventh snapped a 2-2 tie, as the Springfield Cardinals went on to defeat the San Antonio Missions by a final score of 4-2, on Saturday night at Hammons Field.

San Antonio starter Robert Rohrbaugh (2-1) pitched well through six innings, but surrendered Boyd's first homer since returning from Triple-A Memphis.

Boyd had a big night offensively, as he drove in Springfield's first three runs. In the second inning with the Cards trailing 2-0, Boyd picked up a two-out, two-run single, tying the game at 2-2.

Jarrett Hoffpauir's third homer of the season, with one out in the last of the eighth, provided some breathing room for Cards' reliever Mark Worrell. Worrell, who entered in the eighth and recorded the third out with two Missions aboard, worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his league-best 23rd save of the year.

San Antonio got to Springfield starter Blake Hawksworth early, as Yung Chi Chen's two-run homer put the Missions in front 2-0. Hawksworth started the first inning by walking Sebastien Boucher and then surrendering Chen's second homer of the year one batter later.

Hawksworth (1-1) would allow just two more base runners the remainder of the evening, hitting Wladimir Balentien in the first and then hitting Boucher in the third. The Cardinal right-hander worked a total of seven innings, allowing two runs on just one hit, giving him his eighth win of the year, but his first career victory at the Double-A level.

Hawksworth, plagued by injuries since 2003, has pitched less than 25 innings over the past two seasons.

Ranked by Baseball America as the Cardinals' Top Prospect in 2004, Blake Hawksworth stock fell to the point the he dropped out of the Top 20 Rankings in 2006, all the way down from #3 in 2005 down to #22 in 2006.

In the pre-season prospect rankings conducted by the editorial staff of the Birdhouse, to include Senior Editor, Brian Walton and Minor League Editors Jason Scott & Leonda Markee, Hawksworth was ranked #28 among the Top 40 Prospect list.

Among our staff I ranked Blake higher than my distinguished colleagues at #16 prior to the season starting this is what I had to say about Blake in our 40 Days, 40 Nights, 40 Prospect series: "Hawksworth is another player I ranked much higher than the other members of the staff. Labrum surgery cost him most of last two seasons and he didn't return until August. Prior to last season, Baseball America ranked Blake as high as No. 3 on the Cardinals Top 10 Prospect list. When healthy Hawksworth offers the complete package. His best pitch is his changeup, and he has a fastball that can touch 96 mph and he has excellent command and control. He's the kind of prospect the Cardinals are looking for to keep them in the playoffs and is adept at getting strikeouts and inducing groundouts. He needs to put together back to back strong seasons to ever have a chance to make it to the show. Drafted in the 28th round in 2001, the clock is ticking on this former top prospect."

This spring Blake reported to Florida healthy and ready to pitch. Prior to being promoted to Double-A Springfield in June, Blake had posted a 7-2 won-loss record with the Palm Beach Cardinals, with a 2.47 ERA.

At the Birdhouse, none of us ever doubted that Hawksworth had the potential to return to the form that made him the Cardinals Top Prospect in 2004. The question was always, can he stay healthy?

The Cards improve to 11-12 in the second half with the victory with the first of what should be many wins for "the Hawk".

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