Rodrigues and Sanchez sign with MLB teams
RENO, Nev. » The long stay here after being ousted from the Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament wasn't a total lost weekend for two Hawaii Rainbows.
Pitcher Mark Rodrigues and first baseman Kris Sanchez have made free-agent pacts with Major League organizations and will bypass next month's draft.
Rodrigues, a senior left-hander from Koloa, Kauai, came to agreement with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. Sanchez, of Tucson, Ariz., did so with the Seattle Mariners.
"It's a great feeling even though it hasn't all really sunk in yet," Rodrigues said. "After the draft I think I'll start getting the butterflies."
Rodrigues and Sanchez declined to reveal their signing bonuses.
Because they are fifth-year college seniors, Rodrigues and Sanchez are exempt from the Major League First-Year Player Draft on June 7. Instead, they were free to negotiate with any team up to a week before the draft.
Rodrigues was drafted in the 29th round by the Expos in 2001 out of Kauai High School, and again in 2002 by the A's when he was at Los Medanos College. Both times he elected to stay in school. He graduated from UH this spring.
After he transferred to Hawaii in 2003, Rodrigues suffered arm trouble and eventually underwent surgery and rehab.
Rodrigues was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA in 2007, and led the Rainbows in wins at 9-3 this year. He had a 3.75 ERA, while striking out 39 and walking just 10 in 98.1 innings. He improved in all meaningful statistics from 2006, his first season back from the injury.
"I've seen him since high school, then several other times after," said Indians cross checker Paul Cogan, who was joined by area scout Don Lyle in signing Rodrigues on Sunday. "We're very optimistic about him. He's a left-hander and a great kid. He's two years out of surgery, and the best might be to come for him."
After the draft, Rodrigues will report with other Indians signees to Winter Haven, Fla., for a mini-camp, after which they will be assigned to various teams in the organization.
Sanchez had plenty of suitors following a monster senior season in which he batted .362, hit 10 homers and led UH in most significant batting categories.
"The Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays and Devil Rays were also in the mix," said Sanchez, who redshirted at Arizona and played at Central Arizona CC before UH. "I had a little bit of bargaining ability that a senior usually doesn't have."
Sanchez said he chose the Mariners because of the financial aspect and location. He reports to the Mariners' camp for new players at Peoria, Ariz.