State Reports: Pacific Rim
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||Solid, not spectacular
||Not up to par
||Nothing to see here
Hawaii's Punahou High was featured in Sports Illustrated this spring as the nation's best high school athletic program, and Punahou figured to produce the highest draft pick from the state's prep ranks since Jerome Williams back in 1999. But righthander Jeeter Ishida, an Arizona State signee, didn't have a big spring, and most scouts expect him to attend school instead of signing out of high school. It also was a disappointing year for the top college player in the state as righty Matt Daly struggled with command issues.
Meanwhile, it's a relatively bountiful year in Alaska, with two draftable high school players.
|NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS
1. Matt Daly, rhp, Hawaii
2. Dustin Antolin, rhp, Millani (Hawaii) HS
3. Jeeter Ishida, rhp, Punahou HS, Honolulu
4. Brandon Haislet, of, Hawaii
5. Kolten Wong, c/of, Kamehameha HS, Hilo, Hawaii
6. Chris Aure, lhp, North Pole (Alaska) HS
7. Blake Amaral, ss, Kamehameha HS, Hilo, Hawaii
8. Randy Castillo, lhp, Aiea HS, Honolulu
9. Joe Kohan, Douglas HS, Juneau, Alaska
10. Aaron Fujiki, c, Mid-Pacific HS, Honolulu
11. Michael Higa, 2b, Hawaii-Hilo
12. Landon Hernandez, c, Hawaii
13. Josh Schneider, rhp, Hawaii
14. Jonathan Hee, ss/2b, Hawaii
Hawaii Disappoints, But North Pole Delivers A Gift
Matt Daly opened eyes as a freshman reliever for the Rainbow Warriors, hitting 96 mph and showing the durability to pitch back-to-back games as a short reliever. He was a key piece of their 2006 regional team. After starting in the Cape Cod League last summer (and throwing a no-hitter), though, Daly wanted to start this spring for Hawaii, and he didn't throw enough strikes to succeed. He peaked at 94 mph as a starter, and at 5-foot-10, his fastball lacks the downward plane to be effective without better command. Daly's not just an arm strength guy; his slider and changeup are good enough for him to start. He just needs better command of his fastball. He was still generating single-digit interest as a potential middle reliever.
The rest of the Warriors' team also was disappointing from a draft standpoint. Landon Hernandez, who has solid-average catch and throw tools that could have made him a first 10 rounds pick entering the year, expands his zone too much at the plate. He hit ninth for Hawaii this season and fits better as a senior sign.
Outfielder Brandon Haislet could be an excellent senior sign this year if he can show intensity to match his tools. He's physically gifted, runs well enough to play a solid center field and throws enough to move to a corner if needed. Haislett has raw power but stiff actions at the plate. He has a good approach at the plate, ranking third in the Western Athletic Conference in batting and first with a .482 on-base percentage, but needs one on the bases to take better advantage of his speed.
Fifth-year senior Jonathan Hee also could be a senior sign, and would kill for one of Haislet's tools. Hee scraps his way on base and has good hands, which work for him at the plate, where he can bunt and spray the ball from pole to pole, and in the field. He played shortstop mostly this spring despite lacking the range for the spot and fits better at second base or as a utility player. Hawaii-Hilo's Michael Higa also lacks tools at 5-foot-7 but has a classic quick, compact swing. The question is whether he has the strength to hit with wood, and he's merely a capable fielder at second base.
Righthander Jeeter Ishida entered the year as the top prospect on the islands thanks to a strong 6-foot, 200-pound frame and 87-89 mph fastball that he threw with command. This spring, however, he has rarely surpassed 85 mph, and righthander Dustin Antolin surged to become the best prep pitcher in Hawaii. He could go in the sixth- to 10th-round range. He threw 8 1/3 no-hit innings in a duel with Rudy Castillo in his best start, and was removed after 107 pitches. He has a loose, skinny frame at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and needs to add strength. Signed with Central Arizona JC, Antolin has touched 93 mph in shorter stints but generally sits in the 85-89 mph range. He has a clean arm action and loose wrists that should allow him to throw harder in the future and add power to his breaking ball. His low three-quarters arm slot helps give his two-seamer good sinking life and lends itself to a slider that has average potential. He mixes in a changeup as well and could be drafted higher than Daly.
Castillo has a similar skinny body to Antolin's, and his stuff grades out a notch lower. He's touched 90 mph and throws four pitches, including a curveball that has potential to be average. He's long and loose-bodied and probably not physically ready for the pro grind; he's committed to Cuesta (Calif.) JC.
The son of a high school baseball coach, lefthander Chris Aure is the best prospect out of Alaska in years, perhaps since Juneau's Chad Bentz back in 1999. He's a lefthander with arm strength, and he touched 88 mph during an April trip to Arizona with a Canada-based club team, the Langley (B.C.) Blaze, which also featured potential first-rounder Brett Lawrie. He's touched 89 in the past but projects to throw harder in the future. More impressively, Aure showed potential for a pair of good secondary pitches in his changeup and curve. The 6-foot, 190-pound Aure would be a perfect draft-and-follow if the process still existed, but he's going to junior-college route anyway, signing with Cochise (Ariz.) JC.
Alaska's best position player, Joe Kohan, committed to Nevada. The state's player of the year has a plus arm, having touched 90 mph off the mound, but he focused on hitting this spring. He's at least an average runner and has strength in his swing. He's 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and has an older brother Zach who was a 2003 draft pick of the Brewers and just finished his college career at Williams Jewell (Mo.), an NAIA school.