Arms race: Cubs, Hawks load up on pitching

Recent additions to the Boise roster include Chicago's fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks, all of whom are pitchers.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comJuly 5, 2013 

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Boise Hawks bats sit in the clubhouse before the teams home opener against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Monday June 17, 2013

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— Perhaps no one was more pleased with the Chicago Cubs' 2013 draft than Hawks pitching coach David Rosario.

Seven of the first 10 picks - and 11 of the first 15 - were pitchers.

"To be able to create a winning organization, you have to build a strong pitching system, and I think that's what they're looking for right now," Rosario said.

The Cubs took pitchers in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, and all three of have joined the Hawks in the past week. Tyler Skulina, Trey Masek and Scott Frazier come from varied backgrounds, but they have a singular goal.

"Everyone's goal is to make it to Chicago," Masek said. "I think everyone on the team, especially me, Tyler and Scott, in particular … there's a little friendly competition to push each other and make each other better."

Each has already seen limited action, and none allowed an earned run.

"It's definitely three good arms to have," Rosario said.

Here's quick introduction to the three new pitchers.

Tyler Skulina

The 6-foot-6 power pitcher was drafted in the fourth round out of Kent State, where he went 6-4 with a 3.36 ERA and helped the Golden Flashes make it to the College World Series for the first time.

"I'm definitely excited," Skulina said. "I'm ready to take that next step."

Rosario thinks so, too.

"He has great stuff and a fluid delivery," Rosario said. "He's got a really sharp breaking ball. The way he's handled himself, he's a true professional already."

All three newcomers started in college, but they'll be brought along slowly with the Hawks. They'll see one or two innings of relief at first and then add more work as the summer progresses.

"It's a little different, a change of pace coming out of the bullpen," Skulina said. "I haven't done that in two or three years. After that one inning, you're expecting to go out again and again."

When he's out there, though, he'll be bringing the heat.

"When I threw a couple of days ago, it got up to 96 (mph)," Skulina said. "My fastball's usually anywhere from 90 to 95."

Trey Masek

The 6-foot-1 right-hander was a fifth-round pick from Texas Tech.

"He has a heavy fastball that can go 92, 93 right now," Rosario said. "And he has some funkiness to his delivery that can make it tough to see for hitters."

Skulina went 5-2 with a 1.82 ERA for the Red Raiders this season as a junior while striking out a team-high 69 batters in 79 innings. Perhaps most notably, he didn't allow a home run in more than 132 innings, dating back to his freshman season.

Does he remember the last time he did give up a long ball?

"Like it was yesterday," he said. "It was to (Oklahoma's) Cam Seitzer, in the Big 12 Tournament in 2011."

Masek said the streak didn't happen by accident.

"I think it's a testament to the hard work I've put in to get more ground balls," Masek said. "It's me evolving as a pitcher."

Masek is realistic about the longevity of his streak, however.

"I know it's going to (end) eventually," he said. "These hitters are too good to never give up a home run."

Scott Frazier

The California native was selected in the sixth round out of Pepperdine.

Rosario describes him as "big, strong, healthy kid," and Frazier will definitely be hard to miss on the mound.

Listed at 6-foot-7, Frazier went 5-5 with a 4.06 in his junior season with the Waves. He had a team-high 83 strikeouts in 88.2 innings, and allowed just nine extra-base hits.

And he saved his best for last: He went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 24 strikeouts in his final three starts (21 innings).

"I definitely figured some stuff out by the end of the year," Frazier said. "I was just attracting the zone and getting ahead of batters. I was just being aggressive."

He hopes that success at the end of his college career continues with the Hawks.

Dust Devils 7, Hawks 5

The Hawks put runners at first and second with one out, but there were no ninth-inning fireworks Thursday at Memorial Stadium. As a result, Tri-City defeated Boise 7-5 in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 3,766.

Tri-City (7-14) jumped out to 5-1 lead in the top of the fifth, but Boise (11-10) scratched out three runs in the bottom of the inning to get within one run, and then tied it up in the seventh.

Tri-City regained the lead in the top of the eighth after Dust Devils center fielder Marcos Derkes hit a two-run double. Boise, which has six comeback wins this season, was unable to come up with its seventh.

Shortstop Carlos Penalver went 1-for-4 with two RBIs for the Hawks, and Shawon Dunston Jr. and Jacob Rogers each drove in a run.

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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