Star-Bulletin Sports


Dan Dixon, area scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau, timed catchers during yesterday's tryout at Murakami Stadium.

Isle youths get MLB tryout

By Al Chase

Approximately 100 young baseball players showed up at Les Murakami Stadium yesterday for a tryout camp conducted by the Major League Scouting Bureau.

This was the first open camp the Scouting Bureau has run in Hawaii. Last year an invitation-only tryout camp was held and 77 players were evaluated by scouts from the Bureau and those based in Hawaii.

"Our plans are to run a camp and alternate between open and invitation every other year," said Dan Dixon, head man here from the MLB Scouting Bureau.

There are 33 such camps scheduled this summer around the nation. The MLB Scouting Bureau evaluates players and the reports are available to all 30 major-league teams.

The day begins with registration, and every player is assigned a number and separated by position. The first order of business is to time the position players and pitcher/position players in the 60-yard dash.

About 100 baseball players attended the tryout camp Major League Baseball held yesterday at Murakami Stadium.

"We're looking at 6.9 seconds as being the average major-league time," Dixon said. "Something I stress right from the start to the players is we are grading against major-league standards. They may have been studs in high school or college, but this is how we do our job."

The players sped down the 60-yard course in the stadium outfield, some looking good, others obviously laboring a bit. This could be related to when their team last played.

Silas Ah Sui, an infielder from Nanakuli High School and a 2000 draft pick in the 42nd round, opted for college and played for the College of Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., this past spring. He wasn't drafted this year so was looking for another opportunity to showcase his talents.

"I actually had a better year this year than I did when I was drafted, but our school is out in nowhere. No one (scouts) ever sees us until we go to Sacramento," Ah Sui said. "I just wanted to show my abilities, my talents. It was kind of hard just having two at-bats. I haven't played since the end of April, but hopefully I opened some eyes."

Following time trials, Ed Sukla, who pitched for the Hawaii Islanders in 1964, 1969 and 1970, watched the pitchers throw in the bullpen, two at a time. Occasionally, he stopped a player to offer a suggestion.

"We have them throw nothing but fastballs. We're looking at their mechanics. Ed will pick the top 20 pitchers and keep them for the game in the afternoon," Dixon said.

At the same time, Dixon and Rick Oliver, who helped Salt Lake City beat the Islanders for the 1979 Pacific Coast League championship, started grading the position players, outfielders first.

The outfielders fielded balls in right field and made three throws to home plate from around 280 feet. Some were on target, some sailed high and others started bouncing before they got to the infield.

Third basemen, shortstops and second basemen were next, all fielding grounders from deep short and throwing to first base.

"We're grading their fielding mechanics and arm strength," Dixon said.

The first basemen got to field and make the throw to third with an interesting assortment of results. The catchers then got to make three or four throws from behind the plate to second base with quickness of release and time being included in the grading process.

"There are kids here who are still juniors in high school who can't sign and there are those for which this is the last chance," Dixon said.

In fact, the MLB Scouting Bureau doesn't sign players. That's up to the major-league teams, and the same eligibility rules that apply for players selected in the First-Year Player Draft apply to those "discovered' in tryout camps.

Oliver didn't want to make a guess on the percentage of players who are signed from a tryout camp, but agreed with Dixon that the percentage is low.

Yet, that wasn't about to deter any of the hopefuls who went through the paces yesterday.

"It's good to participate in these tryout camps because you find out what they are looking for. You find out where you stand," said Darren Chun, a scout for the Cleveland Indians.

Once the skill evaluations were completed, Dixon and his staff kept 55 players for a game. One more chance for someone to make an impression.

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