One way or another, Jacob Hannemann was going to end up on Treasure Valley sports fans' radars.
As it turned out, Hannemann is wearing a Hawks uniform this week as Boise hosts the Hillsboro Hops. He was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of this summer's draft.
Had Hannemann opted to stay at BYU for his sophomore year, he would be vying for a starting cornerback job on the Cougars' football team. BYU plays Boise State on Oct. 25 in Provo.
"I love football," Hannemann said. "It's just a different type of love. If I had stayed in college I would have continued to play both sports. The football thing would have been great, and I had a chance to start this year, but I'm where I'm supposed to be."
The Cubs made Hannemann's decision easier when they signed him to what Baseball America reported was a $1 million bonus.
"Baseball is fun, and that's what I came here to play," he said. "I'm glad I made the decision. I'm just going to focus on my body, staying healthy and playing the game I love."
The decision to go pro wasn't the first life-altering choice Hannemann has made.
He was drafted after high school (Lone Peak, Utah) by the Royals in 2010, but decided to go on a Mormon mission.
"I felt strongly about my mission," said Hannemann, who spent his two years in Arkansas. "I feel more mature now. I know how to handle different types of people."
Hannemann returned to the game as a freshman at BYU. He batted .344 with five home runs and 29 RBIs before being named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year.
Despite the stellar season this spring, Hannemann is the first to admit he has plenty to learn. That became evident shortly after he joined the Hawks.
"When he told us in Spokane that he had never really hit with a wood bat, we were kind of caught off guard," Hawks manager Gary Van Tol said. "You don't really hear that."
Hannemann said when his baseball teammates were practicing in the offseason with wood bats or going to wooden-bat tournaments, he was working out in football pads.
"When you think about all those things and what he's doing now, it's pretty impressive," Hawks hitting coach Bill Buckner said.
"Every game he's gotten better. Every game, it's slowed down a little bit for him. He's got a good approach, a real simple approach, so he gets it in a good spot every time."
In his five games at Spokane, Hannemann batted .208 with three doubles, two RBIs and one impressive home run.
"It was out of the park as soon as it came off the bat," Buckner said.
The Hawks' staff planned to let Hannemann play a few games before stepping in with any instruction, but the 22-year-old told the coaches he wanted to learn anything he could sooner rather than later.
"From my standpoint, it's exciting to work with him because he's very hungry and very disciplined," Van Tol said.
Said Hannemann: "I was playing baseball half the year a lot of times. I'm just curious to see how good I can get and what my potential is. I love to work hard, and I'm going to keep on working hard to get to my potential."
HAWKS PLAY TWO, ADD TWO PLAYERS
Boise and Hillsboro played two seven-inning games Wednesday at Memorial Stadium after Tuesday's game was rained out. The Hawks won the opener 4-3 after a bunt by Jacob Hannemann induced a throwing error that resulted in two runs scoring in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Boise went into the bottom of the seventh inning trailing by one run again in the second game, but Hillsboro hung on for the 3-2 win. Boise starter Paul Blackburn took the loss despite pitching five innings without allowing an earned run. The Hops scored three unearned runs in the fourth inning.
Former Hawks pitcher Andrew McKirahan and 2013 11th-round draft pick Jordan Hankins joined the team Wednesday. McKirahan made four appearances with the Hawks in 2011, but is coming off Tommy John surgery. Hankins, an infielder out of Austin Peay State, hit .352 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs this season. He was a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424