Wright leading draft prospect
Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft is full of question marks for players with Hawaii connections once you get past UH pitcher Steven Wright.
There were several professional scouts based on the mainland checking on Wright as far back as the Rainbows' season-opening series against San Diego State.
The junior right-hander was drafted out of high school by the San Diego Padres and has been watched by numerous scouts every time he has pitched on the mainland. He is expected to be selected on the first day of the draft on Tuesday.
Wright's statistics (11-2, 2.30 ERA, 19 walks and 123 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings) are impressive, and one mainland scout said, "Steven might have the best makeup of any player in my area."
Another scout in Hawaii said, "The only name I'm submitting is Steven Wright."
The two-day draft lasts for 50 rounds, although, in some years, a few of the 30 major league teams will pass on making a selection between the 40th and final rounds.
"I think some of our seniors, Matt Inouye and Esteban Lopez, will be getting an opportunity to play pro ball," said Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso.
"I think it is possible that Luis Avila and Justin Costi may get a chance."
Lopez has started 45 of 48 games. He is quick to go to the mound with a word of advice and has made just two errors in his two years at UH.
Avila (.333) and Inouye (.337) have been consistent on offense. Avila is solid on defense at first base and Inouye, who still might receive interest as a catcher, has an excellent arm for the right-field position.
Costi has gone from 2-5 as a junior to 8-2 as a senior.
Senior signings sometimes come a few days after the draft when a team is unable to sign a number of its selections and turns to free agents to fill out rosters on rookie league teams.
There are several Hawaii players at mainland schools who have received varying amounts on interest from scouts.
They are second baseman Keoni Ruth (Kamehameha '03) at San Diego, right-hander Patrick McGuigan (Mid-Pacific '02), who set a San Francisco single-season record with 12 victories this year, and possibly Jonathan Sakurai (Aiea '03), a middle infielder at Cal State Northridge.
The Cincinnati Reds are trying to sign infielder Milton Loo of Molokai, who finished second in the Junior College World Series yesterday with Yavapai (Ariz.) College.
The Reds drafted Loo the past two years and have until tomorrow to sign him.
"Because he's been playing, it's prolonging the whole scenario," Reds scout Randy Tamashiro said.
Trapasso, meanwhile, is concerned about recruit Matt Jaimes, an outfielder and pitcher from Chino (Calif.) High who hit .500 with 15 home runs and was 10-1 on the mound.
"He was lights out this year," Trapasso said. "I expect he will go in the third or fourth round. If we lose him, it will hurt."
Ian Mopas, a draft-and-follow selection from Iolani last year by the Minnesota Twins, did not see a lot of action at Golden West College this spring. He may be picked again by the Twins, play summer ball, and be a summer draft-and-follow selection.
There is no dominant player in the prep ranks this year.
Iolani right-hander Wally Marciel is one player who could be drafted. Marciel has signed a letter of intent to play for Kansas next year.