MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
11 with isle ties drafted by MLB teams
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Dustin Antolin's graduation party today will double as a celebration of his selection in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"We were hoping that's how it would work out," said Lawrence Antolin, Dustin's father.
Antolin, a pitcher from Mililani High School, was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round and was the first of 11 players with Hawaii ties selected on the second day of the 50-round draft.
Aiea's Randy Castillo, a friend of Antolin's, was hours away from picking up his diploma when he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 31st round. Both would have been headed to Central Arizona College if the draft hadn't worked out, but will likely sign with their pro teams.
Kamehameha-Hawaii's Kolten Wong faced a decision after being picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 16th round. Wong, the Star-Bulletin's co-Position Player of the Year, signed with Hawaii in the fall and is weighing whether to start his professional career now or after three years in Manoa.
Four current UH players were picked, led by pitcher Matt Daly's selection by the Blue Jays in the 13th round. Infielder Jon Hee (Boston, 21st round), outfielder Brandon Haislet (Philadelphia, 23rd round) and junior catcher Landon Hernandez (Detroit, 50th round) were also drafted.
Also picked were Baldwin graduate Derrick Saito of Cal Poly (Kansas City) and Mid-Pacific graduate Troy Hanzawa of San Diego State (Philadelphia), both taken in the 16th round. Hawaii Pacific pitcher Kaimi Mead went to the Cleveland Indians in the 18th round.
UH recruit Nick Croce, a catcher at Mission Bay (Calif.) High, was taken in the 45th round.
Players with Hawaii ties taken in MLB draft
||Round (No.), Team
|Dustin Antolin, RHP
||11 (339), Toronto
|Matt Daly, RHP
||13 (399), Toronto
|Derrick Saito, LHP
||Cal Poly (Baldwin)
||16 (475), Kansas City
|*Kolten Wong, 2B
||16 (486), Minnesota
|Troy Hanzawa, SS
||16 (496), Philadelphia
|Kaimi Mead, LHP
||18 (561), Cleveland
|Jon Hee, 2B
||21 (652), Boston
|Brandon Haislet, OF
||23 (706), Philadelphia
|Randy Castillo, RHP
||31 (942), Seattle
|*Nick Croce, C
||Mission Bay H.S.
||45 (1,358), Atlanta
|Landon Hernandez, C
||50 (1,496), Detroit
* University of Hawaii signees
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The prospect of playing professional baseball was little more than a distant daydream when Jon Hee and Troy Hanzawa struck up a friendship as freshmen at Mid-Pacific Institute.
The duo played together for the next six years before their college careers took them down different paths. They continued to keep in touch, though, and were on the phone again yesterday morning when those professional dreams took a big step toward becoming reality.
The infielders were among 11 players with Hawaii ties selected on the second day of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.
"In high school you don't really think about the draft, you pretty much concentrate on college and graduating and you don't really expect to be playing baseball as a profession," said Hanzawa, a San Diego State shortstop picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round.
"But you dream about it and when it happens, it's a great thing. I'm just glad I got to share it with guys like (Hee) and the other guys that got picked up that I know."
Following his graduation from MPI, Hanzawa spent two years at Hawaii before transferring to Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College and moving on to SDSU, where he hit .370 for the Aztecs this season.
Hee bounced around the infield over five years at UH, and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 21st round.
"I was just kind of relieved, I felt like all the pressure was gone," said Hee, who hit .368 and posted a .985 fielding percentage this season. "(Hanzawa) had a great college career and I guess it feels complete that we both got drafted today."
Expressions of excitement and relief repeated throughout the day as players from three islands were represented in the draft.
"It was awesome," Kamehameha-Hawaii standout Kolten Wong said after being picked in the 16th round by the Minnesota Twins. "Just seeing my name, I was kind of shocked.
"Ever since I was a little kid and I saw my first professional baseball game, I told my dad I want to be there one day. To get this chance is shocking, I still haven't really taken it all in."
Wong, whose father, Kaha, played professional baseball, was among three players drafted out of Hawaii high schools. Mililani pitcher Dustin Antolin was the first player with local ties taken, going to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round. Aiea's Randy Castillo went to the Seattle Mariners in the 31st round.
Wong's selection left the Star-Bulletin's co-Position Player of the Year with a weighty decision: begin his pro career now or after three years at UH. He was a standout catcher at KS-Hawaii, but was drafted as a second baseman.
While Wong mulls his options, four current UH players -- two juniors and two seniors -- were drafted yesterday.
Junior right-hander Matt Daly was the first to go, joining Antolin with the Blue Jays in the 13th round. UH's strikeout leader the last two years is expected to sign with Toronto.
Senior outfielder Brandon Haislet, the Rainbows' leading hitter this season, went to Philadelphia in the 23rd round. Junior catcher Landon Hernandez has the option of going pro or returning for his senior year after being picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 50th round.
Nick Croce, a catcher at Mission Bay (Calif.) High School who signed with UH, was drafted in the 45th round by the Atlanta Braves.
"You usually look at the draft more so with recruits that the impact on next year's team isn't too great," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "But then you're looking at your guys that you've been battling with, Jon for five years, they deserve it and they're going to do well in pro ball. That's what's special."
Both Antolin and Castillo had committed to Central Arizona College, but will likely sign with their professional teams.
"It was just overwhelming," Lawrence Antolin said of seeing his son's name appear. "I can't really describe what I was feeling at that point."
While Antolin was awaiting word on where he would be assigned, Castillo, who graduated from Aiea last night, expects to start his career in Peoria, Ariz.
Baldwin graduate Derrick Saito represented Maui in the draft. The left-handed pitcher who walked on at Cal Poly was drafted as a junior by the Kansas City Royals in the 16th round.
"He didn't get recruited," Baldwin coach Jon Viela said. "We knew he had the potential to be really good, and when he went (to Cal Poly) he just flourished."
Kaimi Mead was picked by the Cleveland Indians in the 18th round after a lengthy journey that took him from Roosevelt to UH to the College of San Mateo and back to Hawaii Pacific, where he earned PacWest Conference Player of the Year honors as a senior. He went 7-1 for the Sea Warriors with a 2.25 earned-run average.
"It makes it that much better when you know all the stuff you've been through to get to this point," Mead said after celebrating with a round of golf with his father.