Brackenridge a surprise pick


POSTED: Friday, June 12, 2009

Since he didn't play baseball his senior season, Kalani Brackenridge wasn't expecting a certain phone call today.

Going through his normal daily routines, Brackenridge got out of the shower and noticed a message waiting for him on his cell phone.

The Tampa Bay Rays wanted a word with their newest draftee.

Brackenridge, who just graduated from Kapolei, was taken in the 44th round (No. 1,339 overall) of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft yesterday.

He was one of four players with local ties drafted between rounds 31 and 50 yesterday. Six were drafted a day earlier, giving Hawaii 10 players drafted among the 1,521 total picks during the three-day draft.

“;I was a little surprised because I didn't play all season,”; said the 5-foot-11 Brackenridge, who was drafted as a shortstop.

Brackenridge, who signed with Hawaii in football as a cornerback, is expecting to play both sports if he decides to attend UH.

“;I'm not sure what I'll do,”; he said. “;I've got to talk about it more with my parents and see what happens when they call me back.”;

The chance to play both sports was the primary reason he chose UH during the football recruiting season. He said football coach Greg McMackin and baseball coach Mike Trapasso are fine with it.

“;That was the main reason why I chose UH, to play both,”; Brackenridge said.

Brackenridge might have been the biggest surprise of all the draftees, although Kaohi Downing was right there with him.

Downing, a 2005 Punahou graduate, saw 1,496 people taken before the San Francisco Giants made him their final draft pick in the 50th round.

Downing did it all as a four-year starter at Point Loma Nazarene. He is the all-time career runs scored leader and hit .325 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, 45 RBIs and 29 stolen bases his senior season.

But he was drafted as a pitcher—his fastball has been clocked at 90-plus mph.

Nick Freitas, a 2005 Kamehameha graduate who played in center field for Southern Utah this past season, was the first player with local ties selected on the final day of the draft.

Freitas was taken in the 33rd round (No. 1,002 overall) by the Minnesota Twins. He hit .347 during his senior season with the Thunderbirds and led the team with 14 home runs, 60 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.

Right-handed pitcher Nick Struck, who signed to play with the Rainbows next season out of Mt. Hood (Ore.) J.C., was selected in the 39th round (No. 1,190 overall) by the Chicago Cubs.

Struck went 9-0 with a 1.17 ERA last season. He threw four complete games in his 10 starts and struck out 56 batters in 54 innings.




Getting their shot

        Players with Hawaii ties selected yesterday on the final day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft:

Nick Freitas, OFMinnesota331,002Kamehameha
Nick Struck, RHPChicago Cubs391,1902009 UH signee
Kalani Brackenridge, SSTampa Bay441,339Kapolei High
Kaohi Downing, RHPSan Francisco501,497Punahou