HONOLULU—Perhaps the laid back atmosphere of Hawaii is just what Buster Posey needs.
Since the Giants made him the fifth overall selection in the June draft, Posey has zipped through their minor league system like one of his throws to second base.
It began with a brief stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he hit .385 with three doubles, a triple and his first professional home run in seven games. It was off to short-season Salem-Keizer of the Northwest League for three games, with two doubles among his three hits. He then joined high Class A San Jose for the California League playoffs.
After a brief stop AT&T Park in San Francisco, Posey arrived in Hawaii last week to play for the Waikiki BeachBoys of Hawaii Winter Baseball. Even his team’s nickname sounds laid back.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind, just going to all the different places,” said Posey, the College Player of the Year at Florida State this spring. “It’s been good to meet a lot of guys in the organization and it’s been fun.”
All this after a brilliant Florida State career that culminated this past season with the Golden Spikes Award and a trip to the College World Series. It all helped land him a $6.2 million bonus.
What HWB will do for Posey is give him at-bats against good pitching. Some of it will be a little advanced, such those from Nippon Professional Baseball.
“My main goal is not to give any at-bats away,” Posey said. “My goal each at-bat is to put the barrel on the ball and hit the ball hard.”
Moreover, Posey will get a chance to work on his catching. He was a shortstop his freshman year at Florida State and started catching his sophomore year. He also wants to work on his pitch calling, something most collegiate catchers don’t get to do. This type of league allows him to learn under less stressful circumstances.
“It’s a little different in college,” Posey said. “It’s still the same game. It’s just a matter of making adjustments along the way.
“You have guys on this staff who have better arms than a college staff will have. Getting on the same page as them, I think that’s an important part of being a catcher.”
Posey will have ample opportunity to work on improvements. The league plays six times a week during the six-week season. They have Mondays off and three Thursdays off later in the season. But it won’t be just work for the players. They’ll have time to enjoy the climate.
“I want to explore the island,” he said of O’ahu. “I’d like to see the different parts and learn a little bit about the culture out here.”
Posey added that he and his roommates—Giants farmhands Steven Edlefsen (pitcher) and Roger Kieschnick (outfielder)—are contemplating learning to surf.
“I might try to surf, but I don’t know how long that will last,” Posey said laughing. “We’ll have to get a professional to teach us.”
There are several HWB players with some tie to Hawaii. Honolulu Sharks first baseman Kala Ka’aihue (Braves), the Southern League playoffs MVP, is making his second stint in HWB. He played in 2006, but was hampered by an injury. He homered off Yankees pitching prospect Jeremy Bleich in a Sept. 28 win against the BeachBoys. His older brother, Kila, was a September call-up with the Kansas City Royals.
• The league added two players they are listing as reserves because they weren’t assigned by their respective organizations. HWB did secure permission from the organizations to use former University of Hawaii infielder Jon Hee (Red Sox) and former Hawaii Pacific pitcher Kaimi Mead (Indians). Like Ka’aihue, both reside in Hawaii and were June draft picks. Hee is with the North Shore Honu and Mead is with the Sharks.
• West Oahu CaneFires outfielder Greg Burns (Marlins) signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Hawaii. But the third-round pick in 2004 opted to sign for $395,000 to turn pro.
• CaneFires’ hitting coach Chris Truby, of the Pirates organization, graduated from a Honolulu high school, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He was an all-state receiver in football and had a scholarship to play baseball at Hawaii Pacific, a Division II program. However, scouts noticed him at the Area Code games the summer after he graduated in 1992 and the Astros signed him as a nondrafted free agent. He also played for the CaneFires in 1995.
• The Waipio team that won the Little League Majors (ages 11 to 12) World Series in August was honored prior to the Honu-CaneFires season opener at Hans L’Orange Park on Sept. 27. Too bad BeachBoys infielder Todd Frazier (Reds) was playing his game at Les Murakami Stadium. Frazier was a member of the 1998 Little League World Series championship team from Toms River, N.J.