Ask second-year Boise Hawks manager Mark Johnson about his starting first baseman this season and he answers with a smile.
Hes got a great baseball name, Johnson said.
No doubt about that.
Rock Shoulders, a 20-year-old from Tampa, Fla., was one of 21 Hawks players who arrived in Boise on Tuesday afternoon. The short-season Class A team opens play Friday at the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, and its first home game is next Wednesday against the Eugene Emeralds at Memorial Stadium.
Roderick Shoulders has been known as Rock since he was about 6 years old.
One of my friends mom couldnt really say my name, Shoulders said. So she just kind of knocked out some of the letters and used the first two letters and the last two letters.
It didnt take long for the name to stick.
My mom started calling me (Rock), my dad starting calling me it, my friends started calling me it, Shoulders said.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has certainly grown into his name.
Hes a powerful, left-handed hitting first baseman, Johnson said. Hes athletic. Hes got some really nice hands at first base, and hes got a really nice swing that has some power behind it.
Shoulders played one year of junior college baseball in Florida before being selected by the Chicago Cubs the Hawks parent organization in the 25th round of the 2011 draft. A switch-hitter until a few weeks ago, hell now focus on batting from the left side.
Ive been seeing the ball good, and the last couple of days Ive been hitting the ball good, Shoulders said. Im ready to get on the road, get to Salem and see those lights on Friday night. I havent played under the lights since college.
Hayden Simpson, the Cubs first-round pick in 2010, has been assigned to the Boise Hawks and will be in uniform for the season opener on Friday night. Simpson spent the first two months of the season at Advanced-A Daytona, where he had a 2-3 record and a 7.17 ERA, with 29 walks and 14 strikeouts.