BOISE—Despite the uncooperative actions of the Treasure Valley weather gods, summer is among us and the 2010 Northwest League season is just two days away. Media Day has come and gone from Memorial Stadium, marking the return of the Boise Hawks and the renewal of minor league relationships.
Though the Chicago Cubs placed 26 players on the Hawks’ 2010 roster—15 of which have previously played for Boise—only two were selected by the club in this year’s First-Year Players Draft just nine days ago.
Jeff Vigurs and Joseph Zeller were both inducted into the life of professional baseball when they were selected in the 22nd and 28th rounds respectively, and were the only two draftees to find their way onto the Hawks’ 2010 roster.
Vigurs was selected by the Cubs as a catcher, after totaling four home runs, 13 doubles and 41 RBIs to match his .333 batting average as a Bryant University Bulldog in his junior season. Although he saw success in college, Vigurs has already felt the drastic transition from collegiate to professional baseball before even playing in a game.
“It’s a lot different than college,” said Vigurs, “and it’s really exciting right now. I’ve only been [with the Cubs] a couple of days and I’ve already been to Arizona and Boise the next day, so it’s been nice to finally settle down.”
A Mission Viejo native, Zeller, formally a right-handed pitcher for The Masters College in Santa Clarita, California, was drafted by the Cubs in the 28th round after going 5-7 with a 5.24 ERA in 91 innings for the Mustangs. Zeller previously played second base until his senior season, and played his freshman season for Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.
Like Vigurs, Zeller expressed a feeling of excitement and confusion when first experiencing professional baseball.
“It’s really exciting, but the initial reaction was just trying to figure out what’s going on because you get thrown right into it and just trying to figure it all out,” said Zeller.
For rookies like Virgus and Zeller, it takes the leadership of experienced players like George Matheus, in addition to the coaching staff, to develop young players into confident teammates. Matheus will be making his second stop with the Hawks, after beginning the season with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs where he hit .208 with four RBIs in 16 games.
“What I say for the new guys is that the most important thing is, ‘don’t change how you play; if you play hard, keep playing hard.’ The difference now is that there are more people in the stands. Last Year was my first year playing in front of a lot of people, in this ball park, and I see for the first time a lot of people watching me play.”
“I understand that it’s their first time and they’ll feel a little bit e nervous, everyone is a little bit nervous,” said Matheus.
With the leadership of veterans and returners from last season, Zeller and Vigurs are sure to have a successful debut in professional baseball.