Baseball

From MVPs to regular all-stars, these are the best players in Boise Hawks history

Stadium developer explains why he thinks model can work in Boise

Chris Schoen, of Atlanta's Greenstone Properties, explains how the lessons and path of mixed-use stadium projects in Fort Wayne, Ind., and North Augusta, S.C., could be templates for a $41 million stadium in Boise.
Up Next
Chris Schoen, of Atlanta's Greenstone Properties, explains how the lessons and path of mixed-use stadium projects in Fort Wayne, Ind., and North Augusta, S.C., could be templates for a $41 million stadium in Boise.

Editor’s note: The below story originally ran in 2017 to celebrate the Boise Hawks’ 30th anniversary. All stats and rankings have been updated prior to the Hawks’ 2019 season.

More than 1,300 players have put on a Boise Hawks uniform in the club’s first 32 years. As an outpost in the low minor leagues, the odds are long any will make it to the Majors.

But more than a few have (139, to be exact). And many became stars at the national level just a few short years after roaming Boise’s Memorial Stadium.

Here are the top 10 players who either made their professional debut in Boise or donned a Hawks uniform early in their careers. The ranks are determined by the advanced analytics stat, career Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

WAR incorporates several advanced stats to measure how many wins above a replacement-level minor leaguer a player contributes to his team. The higher the number, the better the player.

The Boise Hawks host their home opener at 7:15 p.m. Monday against the Everett AquaSox.

1. JOSH DONALDSON

Position: Third base

WAR: 40.2

Year in Boise: 2007

The 2015 American League MVP played catcher in Boise before converting to third base. In nine years in the Majors, he’s made three All-Star teams and has been named a Silver Slugger twice.

2007 Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson tries to avoid a tag while stealing third base in the final regular season game of the Boise Hawks’ 2007 season. Kerry Maloney Idaho Statesman file

2. JOHN LACKEY

Position: Starting pitcher

WAR: 36.3

Year in Boise: 1999

The right-handed pitcher played 15 MLB seasons before retiring after the 2017 campaign. He owns a career record of 188-147 with a 3.92 ERA and won World Series titles with the Angels (2002), Red Sox (2013) and Cubs (2016). He’s the 16th pitcher in MLB history to earn a win against all 30 teams.

3. JARROD WASHBURN

Position: Starting pitcher

WAR: 28.5

Year in Boise: 1995

The lefthander posted a career record of 107-109 with a 4.10 ERA in 12 MLB seasons. His best year came in 2002, when he went 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA to lead the Angels to a World Series title.

4. GARRET ANDERSON

Position: Outfielder

WAR: 25.6

Year in Boise: 1990

After 17 years in the Majors, Anderson retired a three-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger with a .293 career batting average, 287 home runs and 1,365 RBIs.

5. FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ

Position: Closer

WAR: 24.5

Year in Boise: 1999

The six-time All-Star finished his 16-year career fourth in MLB history with 437 saves. He set the single-season saves record (62) with the Angels in 2008.

6. KRIS BRYANT

Position: Third base

WAR: 23.3

Year in Boise: 2013

The second overall pick in 2013 shot through the Cubs system. After 18 games in Boise that summer, he won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award, then was the 2016 NL MVP and led the Cubs to a World Series title. He’s the fastest player in Cubs history to reach 100 home runs, needing just 487 games to surpass the mark in 2018.

2001 Dontrelle Willis
A 19-year-old Dontrelle Willis poses for a portrait with the Boise Hawks before the 2001 home opener. Gerry Melendez Idaho Statesman file

7. DONTRELLE WILLIS

Position: Starting pitcher

WAR: 20.3

Year in Boise: 2001

The high leg kick and exaggerated twist made the lefthander a national sensation. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2003 and finished second in Cy Young voting in 2005, when he won 22 games. He made two all-star games in his nine-year career, finishing 72-69.

8. TROY PERCIVAL

Position: Closer

WAR: 17.5

Years in Boise: 1990-91

Percival made his pro debut as a catcher in Boise in 1990, hitting .203. He returned the next year as a reliever and finished his MLB career with 358 saves (11th in MLB history) and as a four-time All-Star.

JavierBaez
Former Boise Hawk Javier Baez avoids an inside pitch during a 2011 game at Memorial Stadium. Chris Butler Idaho Statesman file photo

9. JAVIER BAEZ

Position: Second base/shortstop

WAR: 14.8

Years in Boise: 2011

The dynamic middle infielder broke out in 2016 as the Cubs won the World Series. He turned in an even better performance in 2018 (.290 batting average, 34 home runs, 111 RBIs) to finish second in the National League’s MVP race, make his first all-star game and win a Silver Slugger award.

10. RICKY NOLASCO

Position: Starting pitcher

WAR: 12.6

Year in Boise: 2002

The righthander owns a 110-110 record with a 4.54 ERA and 1,432 strikeouts in 12 seasons. He owns the Marlins franchise record for wins (81) and strikeouts (1,001). He last appeared in the Majors in 2017 and is currently on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Double-A roster.

Honorable mention

Other notable former Boise Hawks include:

  • Josh Harrison (2008), a two-time all-star for the Pirates
  • Rich Hill (2002-03), a 15-year MLB veteran now in the Dodgers’ starting rotation
  • Geovany Soto (2002), the 2008 NL Rookie of the Year for the Cubs
  • Jeff Samardzija (2006), a 12-year MLB veteran in the Giants’ starting rotation and two-time All-American wide receiver at Notre Dame.

  • Wilson Contreras (2011), made his first all-star team last season with the Cubs

  • Gleyber Torres (2014), made the American League all-star team as a rookie for the Yankees last summer.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

  Comments