Appy notes: Hawkins high on talent

First-rounder working on wide-ranging tools with Bristol

By Bob Sutton / Special to | July 12, 2012 6:54 AM ET

Until this summer, Bristol White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins figured he only had limited opportunities to show what he could do on the baseball field.

Now, it's full speed ahead.

"I'm just taking it day by day," he said. "I'm loving it, getting to play baseball every day."

So the 2012 first-round pick of the Chicago White Sox said he's willing to go through the expected ups and downs as a first-year professional because the overall experience is going to benefit him.

Hawkins, an 18-year-old Texan, would appear to be physically equipped for a full schedule of games. He's a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder with good instincts to roam center field.

"I'll adapt to it fine," he said. "As long as I'm playing every day, I'll be good. Come out trying to produce every day. Don't try to do too much."

The daily baseball regimen is something that will make Hawkins better, Bristol manager Pete Rose Jr. said.

"That's something you have to learn how to do every day," Rose said. "He's doing fine."

Hawkins said he knows he's raw in several categories, so he hasn't pinpointed certain areas to concentrate on while he's in the Appalachian League.

"There's nothing in particular," he said. "Every day I try to improve on every single thing. ... We throw every day. We hit every day. It's the same routine every day."

Hawkins had some football recruiters looking at him as a safety. But he ditched that sport as a high school senior so it would be clear that baseball was his passion.

He had committed to play for Oklahoma, then changed that to Texas. When he was a first-round pick in June, that went by the wayside as well.

Hawkins is the draftee who performed the back flip on the MLB Draft telecast after his selection. That might have just foreshadowed the type of athleticism that the White Sox expect to see from Hawkins.

"He's got a very, very bright future," Rose Jr. said. "His tools are off the charts."

There will be plenty of adjustments along the way. Hawkins was normally in the leadoff spot in high school so he could get more at-bats. He's in the No. 3 position in the Bristol batting order.

"Get opportunities every day, play a full game," Hawkins said. "I just wanted to play straight baseball. Now we're playing real ball."

In brief

One strike away: Burlington Royals pitchers Colin Rodgers and Lincoln Rassi toyed with a no-hitter against the Bristol White Sox until outfielder Kale Kiser launched a two-out home run in the top of the ninth. That blast came one batter after teammate Jake Brown worked a walk out of an 0-2 count against Rassi, who had retired the first eight batters he faced.

"I got a pretty good swing on it," said Kiser, a four-year college player from Nebraska whose shot sailed out over the fence in right-center field.

One out away: Bluefield lost back-to-back games by one run to Burlington, all on walk-off two-out hits after the Blue Jays had entered the ninth inning with leads. In the aftermath, Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg had a suggestion: "I need to call [league president] Lee Landers about this," Holmberg said. "We need to shorten these games to eight innings."

After the first of those games, Bluefield reliever Colby Broussard fell ill in the visiting clubhouse and was removed on a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance. The next day, Holmberg said Broussard was resting at the team hotel and he seemed to have recovered.

Rewarded for it: Elizabethton Twins reliever Josh Burris has gone a four-game stretch without giving up a run. It's a span covering 9 1/3 innings, and it has paid off handsomely for the 20-year-old right-hander. Burris has been the winning pitcher in three of those games, running his record to 4-0. That gives him more than one-fourth of Elizabethton's pitching victories through July 10. In Burris' first six outings, the first-year pro has given up one run and nine hits in 15 innings.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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