With 22 new players on campus for the upcoming season, Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso was able to turn his attention to stocking the Rainbows for the 2004 campaign.
Trapasso lands 12 in
early signing period
By Al Chase
The second-year coach signed 12 players to national letters of intent during the early signing period, which ended Wednesday. Committing to UH are five junior-college players and seven high-school athletes. Three of the signees are from Hawaii.
The junior college recruits include three pitchers, an outfielder and infielder. They are:
>> Mark Rodrigues, a left-handed pitcher from Kauai High School who is now playing for Los Medanos JC. He was drafted in the 29th round in 2001 by Montreal and this past June in the 37th round by Oakland. The Athletics have until one week before the 2003 draft to sign Rodrigues or he is eligible for that draft."Mark will throw in the mid to high 80s. He is polished, experienced and can step in and throw a lot of innings," said Trapasso.
>> Evan MacLane, a 6-2 left-handed pitcher from Feather River (Calif.) College."Evan is not a hard thrower. He hits the mid to low 80s, but he pitches. He was something like 14-1 last year. We like the program he is in and the way the guys coach there," said Trapasso.
>> Steve Bryant, a 5-11 right-hander from Feather River."Steve has a plus curveball he can throw for strikes any time," said Trapasso.
>> Brandon Bailey, a switch-hitting outfielder from Sacramento City College with, according to Trapasso, plus power. When Trapasso talks about a player having a plus this or that, the reference point is better than the average in Division I."Brandon kind of came into his own this fall and his coach, Andy McKay, says he is their top guy."
Bailey was the 45th-round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays in June's amateur free-agent draft.
>> Andrew Castillo, an infielder from Cerritos College."He is just a very good defensive player who can play any position in the infield. Andrew played shortstop his freshman year at Santa Ana College, but will play second and third for Cerritos," said Trapasso. "He is a plus runner, does the 60 in 6.6 seconds. We signed him as a safety valve in case Brian Finegan (projected as the UH shortstop this spring) signs a pro contract after next year."
The high school recruits are:
>> Kaimi Mead, a left-hander now at Roosevelt who pitched for St. Louis last year."Kaimi is a quality left-handed pitcher, a great competitor and has showed signs of being a lefty who can develop into a velocity type guy who throws in the high 80s," said Trapasso. "He was on that Babe Ruth team that won the national tournament a couple of summers ago."
>> Jonathan Serapion, a right-hander for the Pearl City Chargers."I see him as a sleeper. Jonathan is a kid who I've seen touch 87, 88 miles an hour. I love the way his arm works and there is no question his best baseball is ahead of him," Trapasso said.
"The next two guys I would call high profile. I think we'll be lucky to see them on campus, but every year you get someone you expect to turn pro and lose someone you didn't think would."
>> Steven Wright of Valley View High School in Marino Valley, Calif., and Jeff Pry of Franklin High School in Portland, Ore., both right-handed pitchers and the top prep recruits in this group."If the draft were today, Steven would definitely go in the first 10 rounds and possibly in the first five. He throws consistently in the 88-91 range, has a plus breaking ball and plus command," said Trapasso.
"Pry is just like Wright. He has a big body, is a strong guy and can pitch with the same velocity."
>> Matt Buck, a left-hander from Cactus Shadow High School in Cave Creek, Ariz."Matt is another tall, lanky left-hander who throws in the mid to high 80s. He was highly recruited and has his best baseball ahead of him," Trapasso said
>> Travis Denker, an infielder and right-handed hitter from Brea (Calif.) High School."I see Travis as a guy who is going to be a great college player as a second or third baseman. He is a tough competitor, a plus hitter and, no matter what you throw him, he can hit it," Trapasso said.
>> Derek Dupree, a left-hand hitting outfielder from Shorecrest High School in Seattle."Derek is a leadoff type player who can really run. He will get a lot stronger. You see him in a uniform and you say this is a baseball player. He is what you classify as an exciting player," said Trapasso.
It will be interesting to see how many of these recruits begin classes at UH next August.
Rodrigues and Bailey have been drafted before and probably will be again. Trapasso expects Wright and Pry to be drafted. Any of the other recruits could have an outstanding season this spring and attract more than passing interest from pro scouts and suddenly be a prospect.
Notes: New padding has been installed on the wall in front of the stands behind home plate at Murakami Stadium. The color of the padding and the new paint on the wall is dark green. The outfield fences will be painted the same color. ... The Rainbows will use the dugout on the first base side this year.
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