The player who helped Caldwell High to a 5A state baseball tournament trotted onto the Memorial Stadium field Tuesday night to take a familiar position, wearing an unfamiliar uniform.
The second player in College of Idaho history to earn first-team All-American honors, and a key member of the first Coyotes team to reach the NAIA World Series in a decade, stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the second inning against the Yakima Bears.
One of the Treasure Valley’s own was home again.
“From Caldwell, now batting for the Hawks … Izaac Garsez,” the public address announcer blared over the loud speakers.
Garsez made his professional debut with the Boise Hawks in a 5-0 victory over the Yakima Bears and many of his family and friends were among the 1,810 fans in attendance.
“Ever since I was drafted, I was looking forward to it,” he said.
Garsez was promoted from the Chicago Cubs’ Arizona League rookie team in Mesa on Tuesday. He arrived in Boise around 2 p.m. and made his professional debut with the Hawks.
Garsez was drafted in the 30th round by the Cubs in June and had been in Mesa since June 12.
He batted .273 with three triples, one home run and eight RBIs in 13 games with the Arizona Cubs. Bijan Rademacher was promoted from Boise to the Cubs’ Low-A team in Peoria, Ill., creating a spot for the Caldwell native.
Boise had three outfielders available for Tuesday’s game, so Hawks manager Mark Johnson needed to place Garsez into the starting lineup right away. He played right field and batted eighth in the Hawks’ lineup.
“I would have put him in there anyway, even if we had four (outfielders),” Johnson said. “He’s an older guy and needs to get in there and play.”
Garsez grounded out to second base in his first three at-bats and struck out in his fourth and final at-bat.
He said his debut with the “hometown” minor league baseball team didn’t play out the way he had hoped.
“I didn’t have the best day,” he said. “I had a little extra excitement behind me, hopefully I’ll be able to settle down.”
Many former teammates from Caldwell High and College of Idaho made sure they were at the game.
“It’s pretty darn cool,” said Duncan Koga, who attended Caldwell High and roomed with Garsez at College of Idaho. “It’s something that you dream about when you’re a kid. I’m just happy for him.”
Former Caldwell and College of Idaho teammate Jeffrey Harris also was a roommate with Garsez at C of I and attended Tuesday’s game.
“It was awesome (for Garsez) to get drafted by the Cubs, and then the fact that he gets to play here this early in the year is super exciting,” Harris said. “I’m pretty excited for him.”
Garsez’s parents, Dianne and Joseph Garsez, sat near the Hawks’ dugout, along the first-base line. Dianne Garsez took pictures of his first at-bat and Joseph joined the loud ovation Garsez got when he was first introduced.
“I can’t even explain how cool it is,” Dianne Garsez said. “It’s very exciting. We’ve watched our boys since they were 5 and to be at this level and keep watching, oh yeah, very cool.”
Joseph Garsez wore a Cubs cap to the game and said he was at a loss for words as he readied to watch the youngest of his two sons play his first professional baseball game in Boise.
“The kid has been so driven, on his own and by his brother (Jacob),” Joseph Garsez said. “This is it. This is the fruit right here.
“You can’t help but be proud.”
Garsez is the fourth Treasure Valley native to play for the Hawks since the Cubs began their affiliation in Boise in 2001 and the first since Centennial High graduate Jordan Latham pitched in Boise in 2007 and 2010.
Vallivue High catcher Pat McIntyre (2003) and Capital High and Northwest Nazarene pitcher Roger Evenson (2005) also played for the Hawks.
Garsez also is the second College of Idaho player to play for the Hawks, joining Bill Oliver (1998).
Until last month, Garsez played in front of a hometown crowd throughout his high school and college career. And to be back in front of friendly faces is something Garsez relished Tuesday.
He found out late Monday night that he was being promoted. He called his parents and brother and texted his friends.
“I’m coming home,” Harris said Garsez texted him.
“The odds of that happening are ridiculous,” Garsez said. “And the fact that it happened to me, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to play baseball in front of my parents, play professional baseball in front of my friends.”