Four of the current Hawks are first-round draft picks: Mark Pawelek ('05), Kyler Burke ('06), Josh Vitters ('07), and Ryan Flaherty ('08). Pawelek will be making his fourth trip to Boise, while both Burke and Vitters were members of the Hawks last season.
Pitchers -- Of the 16 pitchers on manager Tom Beyers' roster, seven of them have played previously at Memorial Stadium. Left-hander Michael Bunton has had the most success, going 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 2007. Marcus Hatley, Jon Muller, Arik Hempy, Harol Tolentino, and Pawelek will all return to Boise after spending a part of last season with the Hawks, while Jake Muyco, who was a catcher on the 2005 Boise team, returns this season after converting to a pitcher.
Of the newcomers, Texas Tech lefty James Leverton and Furman right-hander Jay Jackson bring quality resumes. Leverton went 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA out of the Red Raiders bullpen, while Jackson went 9-2 with a 3.17 ERA, earning All-Southern League honors. An interesting story will be Mike Perconte, a free agent signee out of Murray State - the son of former big-leaguer, Jack Perconte.
Position Players -- Two-thirds of the outfield will initially be former Hawks, as Burke and Drew Rundle return. Burke had nine home runs after joining the team following a trade from San Diego, while Rundle had two homers and 20 RBI in 48 games. The third outfielder is 13th-Round draft pick Tony Campana, who stole 44 bases this season at the University of Cincinnati.
Three catchers will come to town, including seventh-round pick Luis Flores of Oklahoma State and 35th-round selection Michael Brenly, the son of current Cubs television analyst and former big-leaguer Bob Brenly.
The infield will be anchored by third-baseman Vitters, the third-overall selection in last season's draft, who has been hitting well of late in extended spring training. 2008 draftees will make up the majority of the spots -- including the shortstop Flaherty, the supplemental first-round pick out of Vanderbilt, who it 14 home runs this spring for the Commodores. Sixth-round pick, second-baseman Josh Harrison out of Cincinnati, had 22 doubles and 32 stolen bases this spring, with Jake Opitz, the 12th-round selection out of Nebraska, playing one of the middle infield positions. Draftees Ryan Keedy of Alabama-Birmingham and Rebel Ridling of Oklahoma State, who combined to hit 28 home runs this spring, will platoon at first.
The team will arrive in Boise tomorrow and is scheduled to play an exhibition game on Sunday afternoon against the Boise Summer League All-Stars at 4:30 p.m. Tickets for the game are $5.00, with all proceeds going to charity. Opening night is scheduled for Tuesday, with the Eugene Emeralds headed to town for a five-game series.
* Player drafted in 2008.