Star-Bulletin Sports



4 with Hawaii ties
have signed

Some of the others have already
decided to continue their education

By Al Chase

One month after 11 Hawaii players and two University of Hawaii recruits were selected in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, just four have signed professional contracts.

Two players, third baseman Kainoa Obrey at Brigham Young and left-hander Waianae High's Dane Awana at Santa Ana (Calif.) College, definitely plan to continue their education this fall.

The rest either are involved in negotiations at some level or are being watched by scouts this summer.

Right-hander Shane Komine (Kalani, Nebraska), a ninth-round pick by Oakland, made his pro debut Monday night with Visalia in the California League. He pitched an inning of hitless relief, striking out one.

Also wearing pro uniforms are first baseman Kila Kaaihue (Iolani), who was selected in the 15th round by Kansas City and is with the Royals in the Gulf Coast League; third baseman Duke Sardinha (Kamehameha, Pepperdine), Colorado's 19th round selection, who is in Casper, Wyo., in the Pioneer League; and catcher Grady Symonds (UH), a 39th round pick by Arizona, who is in Missoula, Mont., also in the Pioneer League.

Rainbow recruits Justin Azze, a left-hander from Orange Coast College, and Nick Ponomarenko, a right-hander from Cuesta College, were drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 10th and 38th rounds.

Azze waited at home for three weeks while the Expos kept telling him they were looking for more money. Although he and the Expos are still talking, Azze couldn't sit anymore and joined the Alaska Goldpanners last week.

Ponomarenko, who is pitching summer ball for the San Luis Obispo Blues, is headed to Hawaii at the end of the month.

"I've pretty much decided to play for Hawaii next year," Ponomarenko said. "I'm going to come over at the end of the month and finish the summer with the Movers."

Reid Santos, a left-hander from Castle High School and a 13th-round pick by the Cleveland Indians, plans to return to Saddleback College to complete his associate of arts degree. However, local Indians scout Darren Chun is monitoring Santos' progress. If he shows he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in June 2001, the Indians might try to sign Santos this fall. Otherwise, they hold the draft rights to Santos until a week before the 2003 draft.

Keahi Rawlins, a UH recruit from Molokai High School and a 36th-round selection by Philadelphia, has been contacted by Phillies Pacific Rim supervisor Doug Takaragawa, who at one time planned to come to Hawaii and have lunch with the right-hander.

"He called again and asked when I would be pitching (for the Island Movers) on the mainland," Rawlins said. "He said he wants to see me pitch and then we would go to lunch and talk story."

The Movers leave for their three-week California road trip Wednesday.

Another UH recruit, catcher/outfielder Matt Inouye, said the Boston Red Sox are keeping an eye on him.

"The Red Sox told me they want to watch me play this summer and they would get back to me in August," he said.

Boston selected the Mid-Pacific Institute standout in the 41st round.

Chad Bailey, a left-hander from Campbell High School who pitched for North Idaho College this past spring and is with the Movers this summer, is a draft-and-follow with Los Angeles. The Dodgers used their 47th-round pick on Bailey and are helping him find a college to play for this year, as North Idaho dropped baseball.

UH Athletics

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