2011 Hawaii Collegiate Top 10 Prospects
: After finishing the regular season with just three wins in their final 11 games, the Kamuela Paniolos rolled through the playoffs undefeated, capping their run with an 11-6 win over the Waikiki Surfers to claim the 2011 Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League crown. The Paniolos rode their starting pitching in their three previous playoff wins and the championship was no exception. Six-foot-8 starter James McDonald (Lower Columbia, Wash., CC) allowed 10 hits in eight innings without recording a strikeout but held onto an early 6-0 lead, giving up four runs. Cleanup hitter Chad Bolibol (Hawaii Pacific) led the offensive attack, going 4-for-5 with two triples and two RBIs. Catcher Andrew Lowers (Central Connecticut State) chipped in two hits and two RBIs as all but one Paniolos starter recorded at least one hit en route to the title.
1. Trey Teakell, rhp, Kauai (R-Fr., Texas Christian)
Without a lot of innings available thanks to a loaded and veteran Horned Frogs pitching staff, Teakell redshirted his first year in Fort Worth. But if his summer performance is any indication, Teakell is poised to do big things on the mound for TCU in 2012. At 6-foot-5 and just 165 pounds, Teakell has a rail-thin but projectable body. Already armed with a fastball that touched 92 this summer, he has the potential to add velocity as he continues to fill out his frame. His mechanics are clean and his delivery is easy and effortless. In addition to his fastball, he throws a 12-to-6 curveball and a changeup for strikes and was confident throwing his offspeed stuff at any point in the count. He even developed a split-finger while working in the bullpen this summer, and by the end of season, Kauai coach Steve Gewecke said the pitch had legitimate swing-and-miss potential. His advanced stuff helped him earn the league's pitcher of the year award after he finished 3-2, 0.91 with 46 strikeouts in 59 innings. He still has a lot of maturing to do—physically and mentally—and he still needs to add polish and get some more experience under his belt, but his future is bright.
2. Kai'iana Eldredge, 2b/c, Oahu (So., Kansas)
After being named the No. 2 prospect in the HCBL last season, Eldredge finds himself a familiar position on this year's list following a strong freshman campaign in the Big 12, and another strong summer playing for his father at Oahu. Eldredge started 48 games for the Jayhawks, mostly at second base, and hitting .268/.343/.395 with 20 runs and 26 RBIs. This summer he showed better pitch recognition and plate discipline, and it resulted in a .327/.415/.398 slash line. A great athlete with a very strong arm and good baseball IQ, Eldredge is a solid option in the infield, but most believe his future will be behind the plate. Eldredge is still learning to catch, but his pop times were consistently in the 1.8- to 1.85-second range, and he improved his receiving skills as the summer went on. The reason he may need to transition behind the plate full-time is because there are concerns that he might not be able to hit enough to stay in the infield. A sturdy 6 feet and 190 pounds, Eldredge has decent gap-to-gap power for a player his size, but his swing is a little bit long and opposing teams had a lot of success pitching him inside. His athleticism and baseball background may help carry him to the next level, but improvements at the plate will ultimately determine just how far he goes.
3. Jonathan Hochstatter, lhp, Waimea (Fr., Stanford)
Hochstatter, like many high school pitchers facing stiff competition for the first time, struggled to get into a groove early in the summer. But it was clear as the summer progressed that he was making large strides on the mound and has a bright future ahead of him. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Hochstatter is not nearly as skinny as Teakell, but he does have some projectability in his frame and is another candidate to add velocity as he gains strength. Hochstatter has little effort in his smooth, easy delivery. His fastball sits between 86-88 mph and his curveball improved tremendously once coach Josh Hansen convinced him to start coming over the top with it more often. His changeup needs improvement, but he has an impressive knowledge of his own stuff and feel for the game, especially for someone who still hasn't pitched above high school. He isn't overpowering and needs to get more aggressive on the mound. He also needs to work on incorporating his lower half more and on shortening his delivery slightly.
4. Jacob Wakamatsu, ss/2b, Waimea (Fr., Arizona State)
The son of former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, Jacob has intriguing skills and pedigree, he just needs to get some experience. A number of coaches said Wakamatsu looked tentative when they first saw him play in the HCBL. They also said that as the season progressed, he made dramatic improvements, and he finished the season hitting .287/.370/.372 with 12 RBIs and 24 strikeouts in 94 at-bats. At 6 feet and 175 pounds, Wakamatsu still has a lot of room to fill out his frame and add muscle, which could make a huge difference in his offensive game. For now he is still getting by on his athleticism and baseball IQ. He needs to make a number of adjustments to his swing, which is a little long currently. He also has a slight uppercut in his swing and struggled early recognizing offspeed stuff. Despite the need for Wakamatsu to add muscle, he already has sneaky pop, and late in the season he blasted a ball off the fence in a league where home runs are few and far between. Defensively, he is an exceptional athlete with enough range and speed to potentially stick at shortstop, and he has good actions and fundamentals in the infield despite 13 errors. With some offensive refinement, he could become an impact player early for the Sun Devils.
5. Jimmy Filter, ss, Oahu (Sr., Northeastern)
After struggling in his first full season of Division I baseball, Filter made a name for himself on the islands this summer, impressing coaches with his all-around ability and strength. A San Diego native, Filter was initially planning to play for San Diego State where his uncle, Rusty, was the pitching coach. But when Rusty took the same job at Stanford, Filter looked elsewhere and transferred to Northeastern from San Diego Mesa JC. Filter struggled to adjust in his first season at Northeastern, hitting just .213/.263/.281 with 27 strikeouts in 89 at-bats, but he seemed much more comfortable this summer. The wiry 6-foot, 190-pounder was named the league's MVP after hitting .327/.388/.540 with two home runs and 16 RBIs. While his summer teammate Eldredge may be more versatile defensively, most coaches agree Filter was the more dangerous hitter. Filter crowds the plate to cover the outer half, making him vulnerable on the inner half at times. But he uses his quick hands and quick bat to cover some of the holes and has solid plate discipline despite high strikeout totals. Defensively, Filter has a strong arm, good footwork, and solid hands. But his average speed and fringy range at shortstop left some coaches convinced he is destined for either third or second base.
6. Luke Esquerra, of, Waimea (Jr., Cal Baptist)
Overshadowed by his twin brother Zach at NAIA Cal Baptist, Esquerra has flown under the radar despite being an impressive physical specimen with good tools. While his brother hit 17 home runs and slugged .637 for the Lancers last season, Luke made just two starts and finished the season with four hits, four RBIs, and two stolen bases in 16 at-bats. With plenty of available at-bats this summer, Esquerra showed a little bit more of his potential, hitting .306/.425/.435 with 24 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Esquerra was the most physically impressive prospect on the circuit this summer, but he is still raw and has a long way to go if he wants to make it to the next level. Esquerra runs well, has a very strong arm, and has plenty of righthanded power potential. But he still gets very pull-happy, struggles to stay back and recognize offspeed stuff, and opposing teams knew they could get him out by pitching him inside. He started to try and take the ball the other way as the season wore on. Esquerra has many of the tools in place to be a good player; he just needs to refine his game. His fielding technique and routes in the outfield still need to get better, and he will need to work out the holes in his swing.
7. James Yacabonis, rhp, Waikiki (So., St. Joseph's)
Yacabonis was one of the more intriguing prospects in the HCBL this summer because he has electric stuff, but he hasn't even come close harnessing it yet. As one coach put it, "He is the kind of guy who will walk the bases loaded and then strike out the side to get out of the inning," and his stats seem to back up that observation. As a freshman at St. Joseph's, Yacabonis pitched just seven innings, allowing seven earned runs while walking six and striking out eight. It was more of the same in the summer, as he struck out 47 hitters in just 40 innings. But he posted a 6.81 ERA, issued 37 walks and threw 15 wild pitches. Consistency was his biggest issue, and he seemed to wear down at the end of the season. Despite all of his control issues and inconsistency, Yacabonis offers tantalizing projectability and raw stuff. At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Yacabonis seems likely to add velocity if he can hone his mechanics. He relies on a 90-92 mph fastball and a hard slider with sharp bite when he had it working. His repertoire, coupled with his funky, low-slot delivery means he projects best as a reliever at the next level, and his competitive streak and aggressive approach would fit well in the bullpen.
8. James Stanfield, c, Kamuela (Sr., Kansas)
Not the most physically imposing backstop at just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Stanfield made his presence felt in Hawaii this summer before having his season cut short when he tore his meniscus. After making 43 starts behind the plate as a sophomore, Stanfield made just 23 starts at catcher as a junior, but his offensive output soared as he hit .327/.394/.456 with two home runs, nine RBIs, and just 13 strikeouts in 114 at-bats. In less than a month with the Paniolos, Stanfield's advanced approach had helped him to a .488/.551/.605 slash line and 12 RBIs in 43 at-bats. Stanfield, who hits from the left side of the plate, is an excellent line drive hitter with a short, compact swing, quick hands and a discerning eye in the batter's box. An infielder in high school, Stanfield is still a work in progress as a catcher, but he made significant strides in his short time with the Paniolos. He does a good job of getting rid of the ball and consistently clocks in the 2.0- to 2.1-second range on pop times, right around average. He is still learning the intricacies of receiving, and his footwork needs improvement as well. With an advanced bat and mature approach at the plate, Stanfield's improvement as a catcher (and return to health) will be the difference between a good college hitter and a potential pro prospect.
9. Robert Kahana, rhp, Oahu (Fr., Kansas)
The third incoming freshman on this list, Kahana more than held his own against more experienced competition this summer, and opposing coaches took notice. Listed generously at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Kahana has a long, wiry frame that still has room to add strength. He wore down as the season went on, finishing with a 4.20 ERA, 23 walks and 33 strikeouts in 49 innings. Kahana has a funky delivery but a loose, whippy arm action. His fastball sat between 86-88 mph, but he occasionally touched 90. Coaches couldn't agree on whether his breaking ball was a curveball or more of a slurve, but they did agree that the pitch was effective, though it still needs some refinement. He'll need to develop a third pitch in college to have a chance to start, but for now, he fits best as a reliever. He is a bulldog on the mound and always seems to want the ball in important situations.
10. Ben McQuown, of, Waikiki (Jr., Campbell)
An island native who plays center field and is lacking size but not heart, McQuown drew obvious comparisons to Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino. In the first 12 games of the summer, McQuown was hitting .417. Then he broke his jaw sliding into home plate and needed to have his jaw wired shut. Surfers coach Adam Millan assumed McQuown's summer was over, but less than a month later, McQuown approached his coach and told him the doctors had cleared him to play. He then proceeded to play in the last seven games of the season and finished hitting .302/.421/.365 with 12 RBIs and nine stolen bases. HCBL coaches raved about McQuown's work ethic, toughness, and hard-nosed mentality. Undersized at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, McQuown will have to prove himself at every level. Considered the best defensive center fielder in the league, McQuown has excellent speed, takes good routes to the ball and has a solid arm and strong release. He is an intelligent baserunner who takes good jumps and uses his speed to take extra bases. He has surprising strength and power at the plate for his size, and his quick hands and short swing make him very difficult to strike out. This year McQuown will get to take his talents to the Division I level, as he heads to Campbell after spending last season at Lower Columbia (Wash.) CC.