Island’s professional hopefuls begin to climb the ladder
Jerome Williams and Shane Victorino are the only players with Hawaii ties in the big leagues
The assignments have been made and the majority of Hawaii's professional baseball players on full-season minor league teams opened the 2006 season on Friday.
Brandon League, Shane Komine, Dane Sardinha, Shane Victorino and Jerome Williams were on major league 40-man rosters entering spring training. Victorino (St. Anthony), an outfielder with the Philadelphia Phillies, and Williams (Waipahu), a right-hander for the Chicago Cubs, survived to be included on the opening-day 25-man rosters.
League (Saint Louis) pitched 7 1/3 innings in six games with the Toronto Blue Jays this spring. The right-hander surrendered 15 hits, gave up nine earned runs, walked five, struck out four and had an 11.05 ERA. He was optioned to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League on March 17.
Komine (Kalani, Nebraska), added to the Oakland Athletics' 40-man roster after a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, was optioned to Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League on March 18. The right-hander threw four innings in two games for Oakland, allowing seven hits and five earned runs (11.25 ERA).
Sardinha (Kamehameha, Pepperdine), a catcher in his sixth pro season with Cincinnati, was designated for assignment after spending all spring with the Reds. Designating a player for assignment allows a team to open a spot for up to 10 days while waiting for a player to clear waivers.
Sardinha cleared waivers and was sent to the Louisville Bats in the International League.
Eleven players with Hawaii connections were non-roster invitees to spring training with their respective major league teams. Some got to play in a few exhibition games, others did not.
The non-roster invitees were Dusty Bergman, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Santos, Brian Bock, Darren Blakely, Chris Truby, Bronson Sardinha, Keoni DeRenne, Brandon Chaves, Rex Rundgren and Kala Ka'aihue.
Bergman, who signed a free-agent contract with the New York Yankees in the offseason, appeared in three games. The left-hander and former Hawaii Rainbow gave up nine hits and five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings (16.87 earned-run average). He has been assigned to the Columbus (Ohio) Clippers in the International League.
Suzuki (Baldwin, Cal State Fullerton) was in seven games for the Oakland Athletics. The catcher was 3-for-11 (.273). He moved up a level with his assignment to the Midland Rockhounds in the Class A Texas League.
Santos signed a free-agent contract with the San Francisco Giants in the offseason after seven campaigns in the Kansas City Royals farm system. The left-hand-hitting first baseman from Saint Louis did not show up in the Giants' spring training statistics and will start the season with the PCL's Fresno Grizzlies. This will be his second season at the Class AAA level.
Bock had the same experience. The former Rainbow catcher went to the Baltimore Orioles camp, but did not appear in any games for the big-league team. He starts the season where he finished 2005, with the Frederick (Md.) Keys in the Class A advanced Carolina League.
Blakely hit .259 (7-for-27) with three doubles and two homers as a non-roster invitee with the Chicago White Sox. The former Hawaii outfielder, in his ninth pro season, is assigned to the Charlotte Knights in the International League.
Truby (Damien), who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent, starts the season with the Las Vegas 51s in the PCL. The 13-year veteran can play third or first base.
Tyler Yates (Kauai, Hawaii-Hilo) signed with Baltimore after being released by the New York Mets last fall. The right-hander starts with the International League's Ottawa Lynx.
Bronson Sardinha (Kamehameha) returns to the Trenton (N.J.) Thunder in the Class AA Eastern League, where he hit .258 with 12 homers and 68 runs batted in a year ago. He is listed as an outfielder this season.
DeRenne (Iolani, Arizona), an infielder and an offseason free-agent signee with the Boston Red Sox, has been assigned to the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs in the Eastern League
Chaves (Hilo, Hawaii-Hilo) also is in the Eastern League with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Altoona (Pa.) Curve farm team. This is the third season Chaves has been the opening-day shortstop for the Curve.
Rundgren (Mid-Pacific, Sacramento City College) begins the season with the Carolina (Zebulon, N.C.) Mudcats in the Class AA Southern League. The shortstop in the Florida Marlins system had a .231 batting average for Carolina in 2005.
Ka'aihue (Iolani) moves up to the Rome (Ga.) Braves in the Class A South Atlantic League. This is the first baseman's second season in the Atlanta Braves system.
His younger brother by a year, first baseman Kila Ka'aihue (Iolani) earned a promotion to the Class AA level. The Kansas City Royals assigned him to the Wichita (Kan.) Wranglers in the Texas League following an outstanding season in the California League in 2005.
Also progressing to the Class A advanced California League are right-hander Kea Kometani (Punahou, Pepperdine) and infielder Micah Furtado (Kapaa, Lewis-Clark State). They are in the Texas Rangers system and have been assigned to the Bakersfield Blaze.
Jeff Coleman (Hawaii), who sat out last year following arm surgery, has been assigned to the Stockton Ports in the California League by the Oakland Athletics, but will start the season on the disabled list.
Duke Sardinha (Kamehameha, Pepperdine), a third baseman who missed most of 2005 with an injury to his right wrist, is with the Modesto Nuts, the Colorado Rockies farm team in the California League.
Infielder Rodney Choy Foo (Kailua), shortstop Brian Finegan (Hawaii) and left-hander Reid Santos (Castle, Saddleback CC) begin the season with the Cleveland Indians' farm team in the Class A advanced Carolina League, the Kinston (N.C.) Indians.
Clary Carlsen (Hawaii) returns to the Clearwater Threshers in the Class A Florida State League. This is his third season in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Former Rainbows right-hander Steve Bryant and second baseman Isaac Omura are in Oakland's extended spring training camp. They have been assigned to the Vancouver Canadians of the short-season Northwest League that does not start play until June 19.
Four players were released during spring training.
They are right-hander Justin Wayne (Punahou, Stanford), who signed a free-agent contract with the San Diego Padres in the offseason, outfielder Tim Montgomery (Hawaii), who spent three seasons in the Cleveland system, infielder Kaulana Kuhaulua (Waianae, Long Beach State), who played five seasons for the Minnesota Twins farm teams and left-hander Chad Bailey (Campbell, North Idaho, Seminole State), who pitched three seasons in the Dodgers system.
Infielder Pat Scalabrini (Hawaii), who played organized ball in the Baltimore system a year ago, returns to independent action this year. He signed with the St. Paul (Minn.) Saints in the newly formed American Association.
Josh Seligman, who was a student trainer at the University of Hawaii, is starting his second season as the trainer for the Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League. The Hammerheads are the Florida Marlins' Class A team.