Zeke DeVoss barely had time to learn the names of his new teammates and coaches when he first stepped in the batter’s box for the Boise Hawks.
By the time the leadoff hitter returned to the dugout the final time on July 18 at Spokane, everyone else knew surely who the new guy wearing No. 5 was.
The Chicago Cubs’ third-round draft pick made an instant impression with his new team, stealing five bases and scoring four runs in the Hawks’ 8-7 loss to the Indians.
“They were joking around that it was my first day with the team and I’m already leading the team in stolen bases,” DeVoss said. “They were having fun with it.”
DeVoss not only took over the team lead, he swiped the most bases in a Northwest League game since Wayne Rudolph had six steals for the Medford A’s in 1980.
“It was pretty impressive,” Hawks manager Mark Johnson said.
He finished his first week in the shortseason Class A league with eight stolen bases to go along with a .471 batting average (8-for-17), one double, three walks, two hit by pitches and six runs scored.
He did not play in the final three games of the first half, including Monday night’s 8-2 loss to the Spokane Indians at Memorial Stadium.
DeVoss said he is aggressive on the basepaths and taking advantage of his speed. He’s also smart. He has spent a great amount of time reading pitchers, something he refined during his two years at the University of Miami.
In his first game, he took advantage of high leg kicks a few pick off attempts by Spokane pitchers.
On Friday, DeVoss forced action on the basepaths again. He swiped third base with two outs in the bottom of the 10th and eventually scored the winning run on Rafael Lopez’s single up the middle.
Lopez said it’s nothing new for DeVoss.
“He’s going to steal bases, he’s going to play hard and he’s going to play well,” said the former Florida State catcher, who played against the 5-foot-10, 171-pound DeVoss in college.
“He gets pretty good jumps and he’s fast. He’s fast after his first step and it’s almost like he gets faster. He can really eat up ground even though he’s a little guy. I think it’s just overall speed — everything’s quick about him.”
DeVoss, 21, played center field and second base in college. He said the Cubs like him at second base and as a leadoff hitter. He signed for $500,000 earlier this month and is Chicago’s highest drafted player to sign.
“He’s your prototypical leadoff guy: Short swing, switch hitter, (who) usually sees a lot of pitches and he’s fast, and a good base stealer,” Johnson said. “So, pretty good combination to have.”
Notes: With Monday’s loss, the Hawks finished the first half of the season 17-21. ... Tri-City won the first half title in the East Division. .... Infielder Dustin Harrington has been assigned to rejoin the Hawks from High-A Daytona (Fla.). ... Hawks catcher Jose Guevara has retired after five minor league seasons, including parts of three seasons with the shortseason Class A Hawks.