There is still plenty of baseball to play, but the Boise Hawks past 10 games have them excited for the next 38.
Boise (21-17), which is 9-1 in its last 10, wrapped up the first half of the season with a 10-0 victory Monday over the Everett Aquasox for its first winning first-half record since 2008. The Hawks lost eight of nine before their recent run.
Ive been most impressed with how weve handled the last two weeks, coming off a losing streak, dug deep and have been carrying that mentality for a while, infielder David Bote said.
Manager Gary Van Tol, who had only one player born before 1990 on Opening Day, said the Hawks up-and-down run through most of the first half was not exactly a huge surprise, and has been steadied in part since the signing deadline passed July 12.
Thats to be expected a bit with a young team, with all the roster moves, the draft picks signing, but now thats past us, and its settling down a little bit, Van Tol said.
Among those Cubs signees is the team's prized prospect third baseman Kris Bryant.
Bryant, the No. 2 overall pick in last month's MLB draft, hit 31 home runs this past season for the University of San Diego, more than 223 of the 298 Division I teams. He is in Mesa, Ariz., with the Cubs Rookie League team, but is expected to come to Boise as soon as this week.
Im excited to work with him, Van Tol said. With everything I know about him, hes a huge part of the Cubs future and will be able to be a big boost for us (in Boise).
Though it is a small part of a 76-game schedule, the Hawks pointed to their back-to-back wins, Mondays win and Sundays 7-0 win over Everett, as a sign of growth by bouncing back after their seven-game winning streak was snapped the prior day.
We hadnt done that before, Van Tol said.
The Hawks racked up 16 hits, and pitcher James Pugliese tossed five shutout innings Sunday.
Its baseball, Pugliese said. Youre going to lose games, so it was good to have that. Showed what we can do as a complete team.
Pugliese, who was named Northwest League pitcher of the week Monday after throwing 11 shutout innings in his two starts, has anchored a rotation that has given up the fewest earned runs in the league.
Theres not enough innings for the staff weve got, and thats a good problem to have, Van Tol said. Weve been getting some great starts, and the relievers are making the most of each appearance, so Ive been pleased with that.
The Hawks also led the league with a .270 batting average in the first half of the season, with Van Tol praising players like Shawon Dunston (.328), Lance Rymel (.324) and Daniel Lockhart (.310) for their plate approaches. Dunston and Rymel hit a combined .186 in Boise last season, and Lockhart hit .221 in a full season in Mesa.
I think weve got quite a few guys who can hit, so were not always having to lean on just one or two guys, and that allows us to battle each and every game, said Bote, a .250 hitter who is 7-of-12 in his last four games and leads the team with five home runs.
With a solid rotation, a more stable roster and the expected addition of Bryant (along with the return of injured .280 hitter Jacob Hannemann), Van Tol cant help but look ahead.
I really like where were at, and its shaping up to be pretty exciting in the second half, Van Tol said.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420,Twitter: @IDS_Southorn