Community colleges are all about helping people reach the next step in their careers, but rarely do students hit it as big as former Bellevue College alumni Blake Hawksworth. Hawksworth played baseball with the BC Bulldogs back during the 01-02 season, and was recently a member of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff.
After being drafted by the Cardinals straight out of Eastlake High School, Hawksworth played a season for the Bulldogs before actually signing with the team.
Hawksworth has been on the fast track to the big leagues for the better part of a decade now, projected by scouting group Baseball America as the number one prospect in the Cardinals organization back in 2003. Unfortunately, a series of small injuries have slowed his ascent to one of the most successful baseball clubs in recent memory.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be in the big leagues. But I feel extremely blessed to be on this platform, just to be able to give more,” Hawksworth said to the Sammamish Review.
After finally getting on the plane to St. Louis on June 6th, Hawksworth had a rough debut in Major League Baseball, despite forcing former all star Todd Helton into an out. After that, he was forced to battle through two innings, allowing four runs and a home run in the process.
“My first game, it was nerve-wracking. When the phone rings and you start warming up, you start to mentally prepare and breathe. The fans have never really bothered me. It’s just the atmosphere at Busch,” he said.
“That was great. To come in and throw strikes, it was a lot of fun.”
Hawksworth didn’t give up another earned run through ten innings pitched, finishing with a 3.00 ERA. On July 13, he was sent back down to the Cardinals Triple A squad, the Memphis Redbirds, in order to make room on the Cardinals roster for pitcher Kyle Lohse. Lohse was returning from a stint on the 15 day DL, and is a valuable member of the Cardinals starting rotation.
Those big league stats match a number of years of solid performance in the farm systems of baseball. His best year might have been 2006, when he finished the season with an 11-4 record. He had also pitched well this year before the promotion
His appearance in the bigs may have been short lived, but he reportedly made an impression with the coaches on the Cardinals staff. At 6-foot-3-inches, he may not be Randy Johnson on the mound, but he can still be intimidating with superior pitch control and over 50 strikeouts in the minors this season. It is normal for rookies to have a hard time in their first call-up to the major league level, and signs point to him being brought back to the Cardinals squad, health permitting.
“This year has been by far my healthiest year since 2006, overall,” he said. “My health, Lord willing, is not an issue. So now it’s just remaining confident and maintaining that belief in yourself.”