Tuesday, June 8, 2004


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5 players with Hawaii
connections chosen on
MLB Draft’s first day

Baldwin alumnus Kurt Suzuki is
the first player with island ties chosen
in the Major League Baseball Draft,
going 67th overall to the Oakland A's

There were five players with Hawaii connections selected on the first day of Major League Baseball's First-Year Players Draft yesterday, but only two are local high school products.

Kurt Suzuki, a Baldwin graduate and catcher for Cal State Fullerton, was taken in the second round, 67th overall, by the Oakland Athletics. Milton Loo, a shortstop from Molokai High School, was picked in the 17th round (498 overall) by the Cincinnati Reds.

"I was home when I got the call and I was excited," said Loo, who has signed with Yavapai Junior College.

Cincinnati officials have not set up a meeting with Loo yet, but until he hears what the Reds have to say, he is leaning more toward attending college in the fall.

The Hawaii Rainbows had two recruits taken in the early rounds and senior shortstop Brian Finegan was chosen by the Cleveland Indians in the 15th round (437 overall).

"I'm very happy for Brian. Cleveland is a good organization. The director of player development, John Farrell, is a former teammate (Oklahoma St.) and a good friend of mine so Brian is in great hands," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.

"All Brian has to do is go out and do what he is capable of doing and have fun."

Finegan started 111 consecutive games for the 'Bows after transferring from Cuesta College. He was UH's second leading hitter this year with a .339 average, had 13 doubles, two triples, two home runs and was successful on 13 of 15 stolen base attempts.

"I was supposed to go somewhere between the 10th and 15th rounds, but I've been hearing that the past two years ," said Finegan, who will meet with a Cleveland representative later this week. "I was happy and so was the family."

Greg Burns, who signed with the 'Bows last November and is an outfielder from Walnut High School in Philips Ranch, Calif., was taken in the third round by the Florida Marlins. He was the 98th overall pick.

Another UH recruit, James Parr, a right-hander from La Cuerva High School in Albuquerque, N.M., was selected in the fourth round by the Atlanta Braves. He was the 131st overall choice.

"We knew Burns was going to go anywhere from two to five and we had been hearing lately that Parr would go anywhere from three to eight," Trapasso said. "I expect both of them to be offered sizable bonuses.

"We took a hit with those players, but it is a great honor for them. We will just have to wait and see what happens."

Trapasso expects more UH recruits to be selected today and said a lot of things can happen between the first and second days."

"We were fortunate to not have more recruits taken in the first 18 rounds, but there will be a lot of scouts making calls tonight trying to close deals before tomorrow," Trapasso said yesterday.

Suzuki, who was expected to go in the first three rounds, said, "More than likely, I'm going to sign, but I'm trying not to think too much about it now. I've got a lot more things to focus on right now."

Cal State Fullerton advanced to an NCAA Super Regional showdown with Tulane this week, the last stop in the Titans' bid for a return trip to the College World Series.

"The only pressure is on winning games. It's crunch time now," said Suzuki, who leads the Titans in batting average (.435), hits (97), homers (16) and RBIs (83). "You want to keep the uniform on as long as you can and go to Omaha."

In the Western Athletic Conference, Rice's starting rotation for much of the past two seasons of Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend accounted for three of the first eight first-round picks.

Humber was the third selection by the New York Mets, Niemann went fourth to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Baltimore Orioles made Townsend the eighth pick.

FSU had a first-round pick yesterday when outfielder and WAC Player of the Year Richie Robnett was drafted by Oakland with the 26th overall choice.

The final 32 rounds are today.

Notes: Other WAC players selected were Josh Baker, right-hander, Rice, 4th round, 106 overall, Milwaukee; Paul Janish, shortstop, Rice, 5th round, 138 overall, Cincinnati; Chris Kolkhorst, outfielder, Rice, 10th round, 292 overall, San Diego; Kevin Frandsen, second baseman, San Jose State, 12th round, 370 overall, San Francisco; and Ryan Haag, second baseman, Fresno State, 16th round, 489 overall, New York Yankees.

Hawaii picks

Players with connections to the islands who were drafted yesterday, the first day of the MLB first-year player draft:


Kurt Suzuki c Baldwin/CSUF 2nd 67 Oakland

Greg Burns of UH recruit 3rd 98 Florida

James Parr rhp UH recruit 4th 131 Atlanta

Brian Finegan ss Hawaii 15th 437 Cleveland

Milton Loo ss Molokai 17th 498 Cincinnati

3 Owls taken in first 8 picks

HOUSTON >> Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend made a historic entrance into pro ball a day after their disappointing departure from college competition.

Rice's remarkable trio of right-handers were all taken in the first eight picks of the major league draft yesterday, the first time three pitchers from the same school have been chosen that highly.

Three teammates hadn't been drafted in the first round since Fresno State's Tom Goodwin, Eddie Zosky and Steve Hosey in 1989.

Humber went to the New York Mets with the third pick. The 6-foot-4 junior pitched the Owls to the title last year, and went 13-4 with a 2.27 ERA this season.

The 6-9, 260-pound Niemann was taken fourth by Tampa Bay, and Baltimore took Townsend at No. 8.

Padres make Bush top pick: The San Diego Padres made hometown high school shortstop Matt Bush the No. 1 pick.

Leading up to the draft, the Padres said they narrowed their choices to three college players, including Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew and Long Beach State right-hander Jered Weaver.

Instead, they selected the strong-armed Bush from Mission Bay High School, located just minutes from Petco Park.

The Padres were said to be close to signing Bush to a bonus worth around $3.15 million. Both Drew and Weaver were believed to be asking for significantly more than Bush.

Associated Press


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