West Linn's Tim Tawa now plying his trade with Hillsboro Hops
The last time most Oregonians saw West Linn's Tim Tawa in action, he was leading the Lions into the Class 6A state baseball championship in 2017.
But Tawa — also the greatest quarterback in Oregon high school history — has hardly stood still since then.
Following his star-studded high school career at West Linn, Tawa took off on a stellar four-year run with the Stanford University baseball team, finishing his senior year as an all-tournament selection in the 2021 College World Series.
At the end of his senior season, Tawa was picked in the 11th round (318th overall) of the Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and began his professional career, first with the Arizona Complex League Diamondbacks in Rookie League, and then with the Low-A Visalia Rawhide in California.
Now, Tawa has come home.
The latest step in Tawa's baseball journey has brought him home to Oregon as a second baseman and outfielder for the Hillsboro Hops in the High-A Northwest League.
"It's pretty cool," Tawa said of playing so close to home. "When the draft was happening, I just wanted to go to a team that wanted me as a player and wanted to help me develop and grow, and hopefully, get to the big leagues.
"Then, when I got drafted by the Diamondbacks, one of the first things going through my mind was 'Wow. The Hops are one of their teams. I could play there one day and it'd be really cool to be super close to home and my parents could come watch and that would just be unbelievable.'"
"When I got drafted by the Diamondbacks, one of the first things going through my mind was 'Wow. The Hops are one of their teams. I could play there one day and it'd be really cool to be super close to home and my parents could come watch and that would just be unbelievable.'"
— Tim Tawa
So far, Tawa, 23, has played four games for the Hops, batting .231 with one home run, two walks, two runs scored and one RBI. While it's early — over the course of the 2022 season, Hillsboro will play at least 132 games (up from 75 in previous years due to the Hops' elevation to High-A competition this year) — Tawa is looking forward to good things.
"In terms of skill, I don't think (professional baseball) is crazy different (from college) — it's just … baseball and that's kind of what I try to make it feel like," Tawa said. "I personally think if you try and make the game bigger than it is, you get stressed and overthink and that's not gonna make you play very well. I kind of just treat it like the game that is."
To say the least, Tawa's mindset served him well in 2021. In his final year at Stanford, Tawa hit .290 with 46 runs scored, 13 doubles, 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 52 games (including 51 starts). He hit safely in nine straight games from March 4 to March 20, and in 37 of his 52 games. He amassed a team-best 18 multi-hit games and managed seven multi-RBI contests. And in postseason play, Tawa hit .386 with 13 runs scored, three doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs, including four three-hit games over nine contests.
In response, he was named: to the College World Series all-tournament team; the Stanford Regional's Most Outstanding Player; to the Stanford Regional all-tournament team; to the CoSIDA Academic All-America second team; to the CoSIDA Academic all-district team; and to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll.
Tawa, who graduated early from Stanford — he has a communications degree with a minor in political science — kept his foot on the accelerator in his first professional season, too. A month after finishing play in the College World Series, Tawa went to Arizona to join the Diamondbacks' Rookie League team.
"When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a professional athlete," Tawa said. "It's the dream, it's the end goal and it's pretty cool to get to work toward it in Hillsboro and be so close to home."
After just two games in Arizona where Tawa hit .400 with one homer, one run scored and three RBIs, he was elevated to the Diamondbacks' Low-A team in Visalia. In 36 games with the Rawhide, Tawa hit .264 with five homers, two triples, nine doubles, 27 runs scored and 19 RBIs, along with 22 walks and 13 steals.
"It was just adjusting to going to play baseball every day," Tawa said. "I would show up to the field and work and then go play and I really enjoyed the freedom. … But it wasn't that hard of an adjustment for me. I've always liked coming to the field early, putting in extra work.
"There was a lot thrown at you, but I really didn't feel like it was too overwhelming or too hectic. … I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed my experience."
Over the course of his 2021 college and professional seasons, Tawa played 94 games and — thanks to his early graduation (he had no classes during his senior baseball season at Stanford) — got an early feel for what professional baseball might look like.
"The schedule of college baseball's a little more rigid than in pro ball, but still, having that experience was kind of nice," Tawa said. "It was nice to have that time and the freedom to continue to work when I wanted to and not have to stress about going to a class or doing homework or a test or something like that."
There was even more freedom and focus on baseball for Tawa in his first professional campaign.
"That was part of the deal — getting to stuff the coaches wanted you to do or just doing stuff on your own because there's a lot of freedom," he said. "And then it was just getting used to the long bus rides and the adjustment of living in a hotel and being a new city."
Through it all, Tawa has remained focused on the basics — see the ball, hit the ball; throw the ball, catch the ball — continued to work and retained his gratitude.
"I'm really excited to be back," he said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything because it's been a great ride for me."
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