State Report: Pacific Rim

Nothing in Alaska, but a good group in Hawaii




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THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Rating compares this year's group to what a state typically produces, not to other states
The theme in the West this year is the abundance of first-round talent coming out of places that haven't produced first-rounders for years, such as Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. You can add Hawaii to the list, as the state has two players that will be picked in the first five rounds.

Second baseman Kolten Wong could be the highest-drafted player from the state since University of Hawaii righthander Mark Johnson was taken 19th overall in 1996, though there have also been supplemental first rounders in high school righthander Jerome Williams (39th overall in 1999) and shortstop Bronson Sardinha (34th overall in 2001).

As usual, Alaska doesn't look to have any prospects for the draft.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Kolten Wong, 2b, Hawaii (National Rank: 27)
2. Lenny Linsky, rhp, Hawaii (National Rank: 81)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Blair Walters, lhp, Hawaii
4. Carlos Rodriguez, lhp, Iolani HS
5. Michael Suiter, of, Punahou School, Honolulu

SCOUTING REPORTS

Kolten Wong, 2b
Hawaii

At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Wong will likely be the smallest first rounder this year. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in tools, with his hitting ability standing out the most. With a compact lefthanded swing and good bat sped, Wong profiles as an above-average hitter who will spray line drives from foul pole to foul pole. He hadn't been pitched to much this year but hasn't gotten anxious or expanded the zone. He has a professional approach at the plate and a good understanding of the strike zone. He has surprising pop for his size and should hit 10-15 home runs a year as a pro. He's also willing to do the little things—he can bunt for a base hit and hit-and-run with the best of them. Wong has average speed and good instincts and is fearless on the basepaths. He's just as versatile defensively as he is with the bat. He profiles best at second base but played center field as a freshman and has also started games at catcher and shortstop.

Lenny Linsky, rhp
Hawaii

Linsky was a decent prospect coming out of high school—though he wasn't drafted—but he has blossomed at Hawaii. He has improved each year and was nearly unhittable this spring, helping the Rainbows finish first in the Western Athletic Conference for the first time since 1992. His fastball has incredible sink, even at 92-94 mph, and he can run it up to 96 from a low three-quarters arm slot. Hitters frequently swing over his fastball, and he has a dominating slider that can get as high as 89 mph. One scout joked that hitters need a shovel if they want to elevate the ball against Linsky. He allowed just three extra-base hits during the regular season—all doubles. Earlier in the season, he was flying open and getting under his pitches, but a few mechanical adjustments fixed that problem and he was better the second half. Linsky has a durable frame at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and a closer's mentality. He could go as high as the sandwich round and should move quickly through the minor leagues.

Top Heavy

After Lenny Linsky, Hawaii's next-best arm is lefthander Blair Walters, who pitched the most innings out of the Rainbows bullpen. Walters intrigues scouts with the heavy sink on his 93 mph fastball, but his secondary stuff needs work.

On the high school side, there's lefthander Carlos Rodriguez from Iolani High and outfielder Michael Suiter from Punahou School—a team that won seven consecutive state titles coming into this season before its streak was snapped.

Rodriguez has a good pitcher's frame at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He scraped 91 mph with his fastball last fall, and settled back into the 86-87 mph range this spring. He mixes in a firm changeup and slurvy breaking ball, but his frame and effortless delivery indicate there could be more to come. He is expected to end up at Oregon State.

Suiter wasn't at his best this spring due to a sprained knee. He's an above-average runner who can handle center field when healthy, and he has a compact swing and gap power at the plate. Suiter is committed to Santa Clara.