State Report: Pacific Rim

Alaska, Hawaii




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Though there's not much talent to be found in Alaska and Hawaii, that makes it a pretty standard year for the Pacific Rim. As usual, there's nobody of note in Alaska, after lefthander Chris Aure was the state's best prospect in years in 2008. He was a 15th-round pick of the Pirates and went 3-2, 3.90 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer. Hawaii's crop is filled with players already at Hawaii or committed to play for the Rainbows.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Sam Spangler, lhp, Hawaii
2. Vinnie Catricala, 3b, Hawaii
3. Piikea Kitmura, ss, Kamehameha HS, Honolulu
4. Breland Almadova, of, Iolani (Hawaii) HS
5. Landon Hernandez, c, Hawaii
6. Carlton Tanabe, c, Pearl City (Hawaii) HS
7. Bryson Namba, 3b, Pearl City (Hawaii) HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

When lefthander Sam Spangler showed up at Hawaii, he was a skinny walk-on from New Mexico with a fastball in the 81-83 mph range. He redshirted and committed to the weight room, filled out, learned how to control his body and harnessed his delivery. He stays over the rubber longer, getting good leverage and load on his pitches, and his fastball is now sitting 88-91 and has touched 93. He throws strikes and has a firm curveball that he can locate.

Hawaii's best position prospect is junior third baseman Vinnie Catricala, who has shown an ability to make contact since coming to Hawaii as a freshman out of high school in California, where he was a 50th-round pick of the Indians in 2006. Catricala didn't play last summer, hitting the weight room instead and adding strength to his 6-foot-3 frame. This spring he has shown power to all fields, hitting 13 home runs after he hit just seven in his freshman and sophomore years combined. He has a balanced swing and can catch up to good velocity and hard breaking balls, but struggles when a soft-tosser is on the mound. He's just adequate defensively and a move to a corner outfield position may be in his future. Senior catcher Landon Hernandez is a good catch-and-throw guy who takes control of a pitching staff but comes up light with the bat.

Shortstop Piikea Kitmura got pitched around this year because he's the best high school bat on the island. He's a good athlete and a good student and is committed to Hawaii. He doesn't project to stay at shortstop at the next level. Another player committed to the Rainbows is outfielder Breland Almadova. He's a good athlete at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and throws lefthanded and bats righthanded. He's a great runner for his size, getting from home to first in 4.1 seconds, so he has the range to play center field. He has shown good opposite-field power, which is rare for hitters his age.

Pearl City catcher Carlton Tanabe is a 6-foot, 190-pound catcher for Pearl City (Hawaii) HS. The solid defender has a strong arm, but needs to get stronger and work on his approach at the plate. He'll have a chance to do both with a full-ride to Yavapai (Ariz.) JC next season.

Third baseman Bryson Namba has been on the prospect radar in Hawaii for a long time. He was the star player for Hawaii's Little League World Series team in 2003, but changed high schools this season and then got kicked off of his new team, losing his chance to play at Hawaii next year in the process. He is also slated to attend Yavapai next year.