The Boise Hawks slogged through a brutal start to the Northwest League season, completing their 45th game in 46 days Sunday at Memorial Stadium.
A reprieve comes the next three days as the league takes time off for its all-star game Tuesday in Spokane. But three Hawks won’t get any extra rest.
Third baseman Kevin Padlo (.289 batting average, five home runs, 28 RBIs, 23 stolen bases) and first baseman Brian Mundell (.267, two home runs, 19 RBIs) will start Tuesday in the first Pioneer-Northwest League All-Star Game. Catcher Hamlet Marte (.306, three home runs, 16 RBIs) goes as a reserve.
“I was a little surprised,” Mundell admitted of his selection. “I feel like I’m playing well, but the all-star game, only two (first basemen) are going. So it’s a surprise to me. It’s just excitement and pride in something I’ve earned, something I look forward going to and competing in.”
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The Northwest League revived its all-star game in 2013, pitting the best players from its circuit against each other. But by joining the Pioneer League for the first time this summer for a cross-league all-star game — similar to the High-A California-Carolina League All-Star Game — it halved the number of its own players selected, making the selection of Padlo, Mundell and Marte even more prestigious.
The joint all-star game also brings another quirk: Hawks will compete against other members of the Rockies organization.
The Northwest League operates as a short-season A league. The Pioneer League is classified as advanced rookie. But six of the eight Major League teams in the circuit treat their Pioneer League affiliates as short-season A clubs. The league even has a rule exemptions for clubs to operate as short-season A teams.
Only the Rockies (Grand Junction and Boise) and the Diamondbacks (Missoula and Hillsboro) have a team in both leagues.
Marte played with Grand Junction all-star Daniel Suero while in the Dominican Republic, and both Marte and Padlo suited up with Pioneer League all-star Hunter Brothers while playing in Grand Junction last season.
“It’s kind of weird,” Marte said. “I mean, your teammates on another team? But it’ll be fun.”
The all-star game will feature a home run derby before Tuesday’s game and dinners and lunches between the players during the three-day break. Padlo said he’s most looking forward to those activities for a chance to trade tips with other players, even ones from rival organizations.
“We’re always talking,” Padlo said. “You pick people’s brains and just see what they do to maybe help you out in the future. It’s always good to get to know those guys and get to know what they’re about.”
Both Mundell and Padlo said they haven’t set any goals for the game. But Marte said he won’t leave cheated on any swings.
“I mean, the numbers don’t count there. I will try to hit a home run for sure,” he joked.
Marte and Padlo were honorable mention Pioneer League all-stars last season when the league didn’t play an all-star game. And Marte played in the 2013 Dominican Summer League All-Star Game.
But for Mundell, a seventh-round pick in June, Tuesday marks his first all-star recognition beyond high school. While he hopes it won’t be his last, he’ll treat it that way.
“I’m going to treat it like it is,” he said, “because you never know what’s going to happen.”
CANADIANS CLOBBER HAWKS
Vancouver racked up 20 hits, hit three home runs and scored seven runs in the seventh inning on its way to a 13-9 victory Sunday over the Boise Hawks on at Memorial Stadium.
Alec Kenilvort took the loss for Boise (17-28, 3-4 second half), giving up seven runs on six hits during the seventh. Left fielder Eric Toole led the Hawks at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Boise takes three days off for the all-star game break and resumes the second half Thursday in Hillsboro.