Hawaii players have a little trouble in Single-A
Injuries keep some of Hawaii's pros at the lower level of the game
THIRD IN A SERIES
TEN players with Hawaii connections spent the summer with Single-A teams in leagues from coast to coast.
Micah Furtado, Brian Bock, Chad Bailey, Reid Santos, Duke Sardinha and Kala Ka'aihue played full seasons.
Rodney Choy Foo and Isaac Omura started late. Ricky Bauer's and Brian Finegan's seasons were cut short by injuries.
Furtado returned after missing 2005 due to a hyperthyroid problem to play for the Bakersfield Blaze in the California League. He regained the 40 pounds lost last year and felt he had a great spring training.
At Bakersfield, he slid up and down the lineup, playing a couple of games, then sitting one.
"They had some younger guys who had to play and once a couple of them got moved up, I played more," said Furtado (Kapaa, Lewis-Clark State).
"It was hard to get consistent, but playing more regularly gave me confidence and I finished strong. Toward the end I was batting No. 1 and was comfortable there."
Normally a second baseman, he played some third base in August.
"The coaches told me to be ready to play anywhere next year, even take some balls in the outfield," said Furtado, who will work on his defense and on keeping his swing on top of the ball in the offseason.
Bock (Hawaii), a catcher, spent his fourth season at the Class A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization. He struggled offensively with a .198 batting average, well below his career average of .241 entering the season.
Bock spent the season with the Frederick (Md.) Keys in the High Class A Carolina League.
"I could make excuses, but I just struggled the whole season. I could not get into a rhythm," Bock said.
He expected to be the everyday catcher, but that is not how things worked out at Frederick. Bock only had 222 at-bats, about half of what a regular would get in a full season.
His batting average was the lowest of his career, and just five of his 44 hits were for extra bases.
"I had one bad season in Hawaii and came back from that. I'm going to Colombia to play winter ball, and hopefully I can go into spring training with a positive attitude," Bock said.
Omura (Mid-Pacific, Hawaii) remained in extended spring training for three weeks until the Oakland Athletics sent him to the Kane County (Geneva, Ill.) Cougars in the Midwest League.
"Extended spring wasn't what I expected, but it was out of my control. Ultimately, it ended up well. I hit well there and carried that success to Kane County," Omura said.
He flirted with a .300 batting average the final seven weeks of the season, but finished at .296, 10th-best in the league.
"I was extremely pleased. It was a strong season and I needed that," Omura said of his
second year in pro ball. "I worked hard, stuck to my game and it worked out this year."
Oakland sent the second baseman to fall instructional league, where he is fine-tuning the small aspects of his game.
Bauer (Mid-Pacific, Hawaii) was bothered by soreness in his right elbow and spent the last two months of the summer rehabbing at the San Francisco Giants' spring-training facility in Arizona.
The right-hander began the season with the Augusta (Ga.) Greenjackets, then made two appearances with the San Jose Giants in the California League. He pitched 24 2/3 innings with a combined 6.18 ERA before taking the rest of the summer off.
"The elbow was checked out. They thought it was tendinitis, but the MRI and X-rays showed up fine, so they aren't sure what the problem is," said Bauer. "A clear-cut answer would be nice."
Finegan (Hawaii) had seen his average steadily rise and was hitting .266 for the Kinston (N.C.) Indians in the Carolina League when he fouled a pitch off his left foot, breaking a bone, on May 29. Finegan was placed on the disabled list two days later, done for the season.
The shortstop is attending the Cleveland Indians' fall instructional league to get ready for spring training.
Choy Foo (Kailua) was on the disabled list to begin the season with Kinston. He was activated in the middle of May, but played sparingly for a month until Finegan was lost due to injury.
Choy Foo, in his sixth year of pro ball, took over at shortstop, with an occasional game at first and third base and quickly jumped his batting average from the mid-.200s to over .300.
He finished at .293 and displayed good power, with 17 doubles, two triples and 12 homers. Choy Foo also was successful on 14 of 15 stolen-base attempts.
Santos (Castle, Saddleback CC) began his fourth pro season at Kinston with Choy Foo and Finegan. The left-hander worked out of the bullpen in 33 of his 35 appearances, had a 2-0 record and a 3.44 ERA.
After holding opposing batters to a .223 average, striking out 65 while walking 28 in 70 2/3 innings, Santos was promoted in mid-August to Akron (Ohio) in the Double-A Eastern League.
In nine games at Akron he did not issue a base on balls and fanned 20 in 10 1/3 innings.
Sardinha (Kamehameha, Pepperdine) played third base in 106 games for the California League's Modesto Nuts. That almost equals the 130 games he played during his first four injury-plagued pro seasons.
"The good thing was I got to play," said Sardinha. "I had a strong first half, but the second half was a battle. I'm not happy as far as it went for a full season. I think not playing for two years caught up with me in the second half."
He had decent power numbers, with 21 doubles, two triples and 12 homers, but wasn't satisfied with his .235 batting average.
Sardinha was a late addition to the Hawaii Winter League's Waikiki Beach Boys.
Ka'aihue (Iolani) blistered the Low Class A South Atlantic League with a .329 batting average, 16 doubles, 15 homers and 49 runs batted in for the first half of the season with the Rome (Ga.) Braves.
The Atlanta Braves then promoted the first baseman to the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Pelicans in the Carolina League, where the power numbers remained solid (eight doubles, 13 homers), but his batting average dropped to .223.
"It is gratifying when you do well enough to move up. You know you are doing the right things," Ka'aihue said.
"I had an unreal first half and wish I could have had a better second half. The pitching (in the Carolina League) was a little better, but I think I lost a little bit of focus."
The Braves were impressed enough to have Ka'aihue play for the HWB's Honolulu Sharks.
Bailey (Campbell, Seminole State) received a second chance with the Colorado Rockies after being released by the Los Angles Dodgers during spring training.
The left-hander spent most of the summer with the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists in the South Atlantic League before finishing up with the Tri-City (Pasco, Wash.) Dust Devils in the Northwest League.
Bailey won his three decisions and had combined totals of 19 walks, 33 strikeouts and a 3.13 ERA in 46 innings.