The Year of the Hawk: Shane Hawk

Shane Hawk's not really the imposing type. Standing at a lanky 6'6'', he was the tallest player at Capital City's club. His considerable height, however, is belittled by that unavoidable lanky part-- he tips the scales at 188 lbs. A casual observer might not be too worried and even batters might not exactly quake in their cleats.

Those would be the same batters that will be resuming their seats in the dugout after three pitches. Anyone smart enough to take a serious look at Hawk would realize that there's both talent and attitude to be found in abundance. He's not going to let some pesky fact, like the fact that the batter outweighs him by a good 30 lbs, deter him. You know why he's not worried? The answer's so simple it's almost comical. He's not going to get beat because he's just going to out pitch anybody who steps to the plate. Right-handed or left-handed batters make no difference to this left-handed pitcher. He's got a pitch for whatever you can't hit.

Although he was born in Cibolo, Texas, Hawk was actually raised in Mid-West City, Oklahoma. While there, he polished his talent until it caught the major league's eye. As a junior at Oklahoma State University, Shane bid adieu to school and signed with the Mets' organization. He went in the fourth round during the 2003 draft. Last season found Hawk on the Brooklyn team. Shane says that the main difference between Brooklyn and Columbia is the atmosphere. "It's a lot more laid back here. There's not as much pressure to be more of a winning team." Accustomed to travel and spending significant amounts of time away from home, Shane first got a taste of his future when he was sixteen. He spent the summer in Cincinnati playing with a Midlands Indian summer team. Because he knew that baseball was what he wanted to do with his life, Shane quickly became acclimated to the fact that staying near home wasn't going to happen.

Although they'd miss him a great deal, encouragement flowed from his family. In particular, Shane's father was more than happy to give his son his blessing. "My Dad's been a huge factor in my life. …Whatever I do, he's going to support me." Hawk's Dad has also been a source of welcome advice. Among the many gems passed down from father to son, one distinct thing sticks out in Hawk's mind. "Stay focused. Cause there's going to be good times and bad times. You can't always pitch your best, but you're not going to pitch your worst. You've just got to stay in the middle." The sentiment is something that's been echoed by numerous coaches and, whether or not the repetition has helped, it's something Shane has taken to heart. In his four games of play since the end of the season's first half, Hawk's posted an ERA of 0.00 and struck out eleven batters in 4.2 innings. Nothing too fancy, and his record holds steady at 0-0.

Hawk considers his best pitch to be his slider. He learned how to throw it a year and a half ago. Considerable progress has been made. Since last season, however, Hawk has spent the most time refining his change up. His year in Brooklyn was time well spent. While there, Hector Barry showed him a different grip and it's made a great difference in both Shane's efficiency at retiring batters and his confidence when on the mound. Aware of his physical stature, Shane says that his demeanor is probably what intimidates batters the most. Normally a friendly looking guy, when he crosses the white line onto the field, "my face is totally different." No longer the jovial wise-cracking teammate, his focus is apparent. Until the game starts, however, Shane says that his main concern is staying relaxed. He knows when he'll likely be called to warm-up and he doesn't want tension crowding out a potentially good game.

Reminiscent of the advice issued by his father, Shane considers the perfect season to be one that's kept on an even plane. His goal is to stay in the middle as much as possible, naturally hoping to raise the standards of where the middle is, and to get his work in. To attain this, Shane prepares by working out every day in the off-season, throwing, running, and all together staying in shape. Apparently being physically prepared is a big part of this player's strategy. If he keeps pitching on his current level, Hawk saw himself in St. Lucie later on this season and that prediction came true as he was promoted to St. Lucie last week. "It's just a matter of getting people out."

Hawk is a realistic player who knows the weakest parts of his game and then carefully learns the correct form. He's not keen on wasting his time repeating mistakes. Hawk's a true disciple of sticking to the middle ground and perfecting his art. His art, however, doesn't seem to be restricted to the mound. Shane sports a pair of killer sideburns and two tattoos. One is a black hawk's head on his right forearm and the other is a Superman logo with the word "Hawk" written above it on his right shoulder. One long arm seems to be reserved for business, the other pleasure. And as for that last 30 lbs, he never needed it anyway.

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