Halfway through his first season of professional baseball, Paul Hoilman hopes his best swings are ahead of him.
The former East Tennessee State first baseman is hitting .250, with nine home runs and seven doubles, for the Boise Hawks of the Northwest League. He has also driven in 28 runs and drawn 29 walks.
The number he doesn’t like: 55 strikeouts in 127 at-bats.
“I’ve had my ups and downs – quite a few,” Hoilman said Tuesday. “I don’t love the average, but I can live with it. I like the home runs, RBIs, slugging and on-base percentage. And the walks are pretty good.
“The Ks, I don’t like at all. But when I’m hitting the ball, I’m hitting it well.”
Hoilman was taken by the Chicago Cubs in the 19th round of the June draft. After a few days in Arizona, he was sent to Idaho for the Class A short season.
His new job takes some getting used to.
“Playing every day, getting to know all the players and coaches, playing in this part of the country … it’s different,” said Hoilman. “Our team started off really well, then we went through a bad skid on the road. Some of the road series in this league are tough. We can be gone from Boise eight days in a row.”
The Hawks finished the first half of their schedule Monday night. Hoilman hit a homer that accounted for their only runs in an 8-2 loss to Spokane that dropped the team to 17-21, good for third place in the East Division.
The slate is wiped clean for the second half. And that’s mostly the way Hoilman is approaching his hitting.
He’s trying to shorten his swing and be more selective at the plate.
“I’m trying to simplify my swing and be a little more consistent,” he said. “The simpler, the better and easier to maintain. I’m trying to get my foot down and be fairly still so I can see the ball better and swing at better pitches.
“Most of those Ks, I’m helping the pitchers out. Hopefully the second half, I can cut down on the strikeouts and be more consistent.”
n Hoilman is one of four former Bucs currently toiling in the Class A leagues this season. Updating the others:
Pitcher Chas Byrne is 3-1 with seven saves for the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League. He has struck out 48 and walked eight in 49.1 innings, and he has a 3.47 ERA.
Catcher Derek Trent is hitting .235 for the State College Spikes of the New York-Penn League. He has only one homer and six RBI in 84 at-bats, but Trent is batting .290 over his last 10 games.
Pitcher Bo Reeder has no record and no saves in eight appearances for Pulaski of the Appalachian League. He has pitched 12 innings in middle relief, allowing 11 hits and six earned runs.
n The ETSU athletics website (etsubucs.com) had undergone another redesign, this one by Streamline Technologies of Nashville. The company is the same one that designed the Atlantic Sun Conference site and those of league members Lipscomb and Florida Gulf Coast.
American Eagle.com of Chicago had hosted the ETSU website for over a decade.
“We did a redesign last summer to make the site more fan friendly and decided to take another step,” associate athletic director for communications Mike White said Wednesday. “We’re helping to streamline the on-line presence of the league, but we have several unique features on our site.
“We especially wanted to use more of the social media, so we’ve incorporated a Twitter feed along with Facebook and YouTube. We’ve included video and audio, and ticket links. If fans have a question about ETSU athletics, there should be an answer on the website.”
White said the site has more than 5,000 “unique users” on a typical day, but that number can swell during basketball season.
“We had tens of thousands of views on a daily basis when we were in the NCAA tournament,” said White.
n There’s a new promotion in the works for basketball season that will feature t-shirts for each of the home games.
“It’s still in its infancy,” said White, “but we’re working with our marketing and promotions people to create a set of unique t-shirts. We’ll have a limited number made for each home game and given out at the door; maybe the first 500 will receive one. Each set will have a very unique design.
“We’re trying to have fun with them, and the idea is to continue to grow student attendance. We’d like to fill up both ends on the floor and get more interaction with the students.”
The Bucs’ schedule has yet to be released.