Hawaii's Top MLB Draft Prospects
1. Micah Bello, OF, Hilo (Hawaii) HS (BA Rank: 121)
HS • 6-0 • 165 • R-R • St. Mary's
Hawaii’s top draft prospect by a wide margin, Bello held his own during the Area Code Games and stood out at the MLB Prospect Development Pipeline showcase with an opposite-field, standup triple. The 6-foot, righthanded-hitting Bello has average or better tools across the board and a long track record of hitting. He takes aggressive swings with a small leg kick, above-average bat speed and a level bat path that produces frequent hard line drives. He’s aggressive but takes good at-bats and shows average power potential. Bello is playable in center field, but his average speed and above-average arm profile best in right field. He is one of the youngest players in the class, so his tools are still growing. Bello spent the offseason working out with Kolton and Kean Wong to prepare for pro ball. He is committed to St. Mary’s but expected to sign.
2. Kekai Rios, C, Hawaii (BA Rank: 435)
4YR • Jr. • 5-11 • 200 • R-R • Never Drafted
Rios is a offense-oriented catcher with questions about whether he’ll stay behind the plate. He has a square, block body that makes him a good target, but his fringe-average arm emboldens opponents to run on him. He is a solid-average blocker and receiver. At the plate, Rios is a pest who wears pitchers down and drives the ball with a short, compact swing. He spoils pitches until he gets the one he wants and lines the ball to all fields with doubles power. Rios lacks a plus tool and is seen mostly as an organizational player, but his ability to hit and receive behind the plate has some teams considering taking him in the back of the top 10 rounds.
3. Jackson Rees, RHP, Hawaii (BA Rank: 467)
4YR • RS-Jr. • 6-5 • 205 • R-R • Never Drafted
A transfer from Saddleback (Calif.) JC, Rees emerged as Hawaii’s top starter this spring and led the Rainbow Warriors in ERA (3.59), innings (67.2) and strikeouts (53). The lanky, 6-foot-5, 205-pound righthander succeeds more on deception than stuff. Batters don't pick the ball up well out of his three-quarters delivery, and nothing he throws is straight. His 89-92 mph fastball cuts, his two-seamer sinks and his slider flashes average. Rees’ life on his pitches makes it difficult for him to throw consistent strikes, and he has below-average control overall. Rees also has a history of injuries. He missed all of 2015 with a shoulder impingement, all of 2016 with lower back issues and missed time in 2018 with blister problems. Even with that medical history, he's performed well enough to get drafted.
4. Dallas Duarte, C, Kamehameha HS, Kea’au, Hawaii (BA Rank: 495)
HS • 5-9 • 180 • R-R • Hawaii
Duarte emerged this spring as Hawaii’s second-best prep prospect behind Micah Bello. A 5-foot-9, 180-pound catcher, Duarte is a good athlete who is advanced for his age behind the plate. His blocking and receiving are both good enough for him to start as a college freshman, and his solid-average arm strength plays up with a quick release and sound arm action. Duarte is an average runner, rare for a catcher, and he is a spray hitter with a compact swing at the plate. Duarte has the athleticism and hands to play second base, third base, and both corner outfield spots as needed. His body and athletic versatility invite comparisons to Rangers utilityman and fellow Hawaiian Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Duarte is committed to Hawaii, but projects to be picked on the draft’s third day.
5. Dylan Thomas, RHP, Hawaii (BA Rank: 497)
4YR • RS-So. • 6-4 • 195 • R-R • Never Drafted
Thomas won the Big West Conference freshman pitcher of the year award as Hawaii’s closer in 2017 and followed up this spring with a school-record 14 saves. A 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore, Thomas throws his slider almost exclusively. Opponents know his slider is coming and still can’t touch it. Thomas’ slider is a short, tight offering he commands, and it finishes with late life and a downward burst that leaves both lefties and righties swinging over top. He can both land the offering for strikes and expand the zone with it. Thomas’ fastball sits 87-88 mph and touches 90, but he rarely uses it. It’s all slider, all the time. Thomas is scheduled to pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer and has the option to return to school, but he is expected to sign if the offer is right.
6. Phillip Steering, 1B, Hawaii-Hilo (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-1 • 220 • R-R • Never Drafted
Steering is a muscular, physical masher who hit .370 with 16 doubles and 10 home runs for Division II Hawaii-Hilo this year. Opposing coaches described him as a “scary” at-bat who can do damage on any fastball and who has the bat speed and strength of higher-division players. He will expand the zone against breaking balls. Steering is physically maxed-out, not a great athlete and limited to first base. His power is real and will get him drafted as a senior sign.
7. Maaki Yamazaki, SS, Hawaii (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 185 • L-R • Never Drafted
Yamazaki had quite the journey to the draft. The 6-foot, 185-pound shortstop grew up in Japan and attended Tokyo International University for a year, transferred to sister school Willamette University in Oregon to learn English, and then transferred to Hawaii. He walked into Hawaii’s baseball office unannounced and declared “I would like to walk on.” Not only did Yamazaki make the team, but after sitting out a year waiting for his credits to transfer, he took over as Hawaii’s starting shortstop this spring and hit a team-best .320 out of the leadoff spot. Yamazaki is a singles hitter who employs a slap-hitting, middle-away approach from the left side. He can turn on an inside pitch for a home run, as he did at Louisiana State in March. Yamazaki takes smart, disciplined at-bats and posted nearly twice as many walks (24) as strikeouts (13). Defensively Yamazaki has the hands and feet for shortstop and makes all the plays, but his below-average arm is better suited for second base. A smart college player without a plus tool, Yamzaki is expected to be a late-round pick.
8. Kyson Donahue, SS/3B, Punahou HS, Honolulu (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • Arizona
A cousin of former Oregon State standout and current Cubs minor leaguer Christian Donahue, Kyson Donahue joined Micah Bello as the only players from Hawaii to make the Area Codes Games last summer. Donahue intrigues as a 6-foot-3, lefthanded-hitting shortstop with lean muscle and strong, pro body, but his skills aren’t quite ready for pro ball. Donahue’s bat speed is well below average, and as a result he is an inside-out, opposite field slap-hitter despite his physique. Scouts and coaches feel Donahue needs years of work with weighted bats to get his bat speed up to par. Donahue’s best tool is his above-average arm. He has decent hands and actions at shortstop, but his size and lack of foot speed portend a move to third base. He is a below-average runner. Donahue is committed to Arizona, where he would be a few years away from contributing.
9. Christian Kapeliela, 1B, Hawaii-Pacific (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr. • 6-0 • 215 • R-R • Never Drafted
Kapeliela hit .407/.500/.657 for Division II Hawaii-Pacific this season making him a potential senior sign. He is a thick 6-foot, 210 pound righthanded hitter who is limited to first base.
10. Ethan Lopez, 3B, Hawaii (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 200 • R-R • Never Drafted