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MLB drafts
6 players with
Hawaii ties

Azze was the first picked despite
not playing for 10 months

Six players with Hawaii ties were selected yesterday in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft.

Justin Azze, who spent the spring watching the Hawaii Rainbows after being declared ineligible last November by the NCAA Clearinghouse, was selected first. He went in the seventh round, 194th overall, to the Baltimore Orioles.

The left-hander was picked in the 10th round by the Montreal Expos a year ago, but was not offered enough money to sign. Despite not pitching competitively for 10 months, he moved up three rounds in this year's draft.

"I'm pretty excited," said Azze. "I'm pretty much set on signing, but I haven't talked with anyone from the Orioles' organization yet. If they try to fool me with a low-ball figure then there might be complications, but if they give me average money for the round, then I'm ready to go."

There was no action involving Hawaii players for the next few rounds until Kainoa Obrey and Brian Bock were selected 10 picks apart. Obrey was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round, 395th overall, and Bock was chosen by Baltimore in the 14th round, 404th overall.

"I'm pretty sure I'm going to sign," said Obrey, who had an excellent season playing third base for Brigham Young after fighting back problems the year before. He was an 11th-round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2002 but decided to return to school and needs one semester to finish his degree in sociology.

"The back feels really good. I'm a little surprised about the team, because the Cardinals haven't contacted me lately. But, they called just before they picked me to see if I was interested in signing and I said 'go ahead.' "

Bock's selection probably is the biggest first-day surprise. Following Hawaii's final home game, the four-year catcher for the Rainbows said he had hardly spoken to a scout during his senior season. However, he played some of his best ball when UH was on the road and a Baltimore scout took notice.

He hit .272 this year with eight doubles, his lone career triple, four homers and 22 runs batted in.

"I was really shocked, not only to get drafted, but to get drafted on the first day," said Bock. "I actually got a call from (Rainbow) Coach Trap and he said 'congratulations'. I said 'for what?' because I hadn't even seen it on the Internet yet because I wasn't listening to the audio. I thought he was joking.

"I called Justin (Azze) and we're hoping we go to the same team."

Keoni Ruth, the shortstop for Kamehameha's state championship team, was listening to the draft on the Internet while trying to relax on Molokai.

"I had a call from the Royals saying they were going to pick me soon, but as every round went by and I didn't hear my name I got more and more stressed," said Ruth, who has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of San Diego in the fall.

"It was a big relief when I heard my name. It's hard to say what I'm going to do. I'll just wait and see how negotiations go."

Jeffrey Pry Jr., a 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander, was the Cleveland Indians' choice in the 17th round, the 498th pick overall. The Portland, Ore., resident signed a letter of intent with Hawaii last fall. He averaged two strikeouts per inning for the Franklin High School Quakers this spring.

His selection came on graduation day.

Micah Furtado was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 20th round, 586th overall. He helped the Lewis-Clark State Warriors win their second consecutive NAIA national championship last month. Hitting in either the first or second spot in the lineup, the second baseman from Kapaa High School had a .339 batting average with seven doubles, four triples, five homers and 21 RBIs.

There were 607 players selected yesterday and 427 were from four-year and junior colleges. The final 30 rounds take place today.


Draftees with Hawaii connections

Players drafted on the first day of Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft. The final 30 rounds are today.

Player Pos School Round No. team

Justin Azze lhp Hawaii 7th 194 Baltimore

Kainoa Obrey 3b BYU 13th 395 St. Louis

Brian Bock c Hawaii 14th 404 Baltimore

Keoni Ruth ss Kamehameha 17th 492 Kansas City

Jeffrey Pry Jr. rhp UH recruit 17th 498 Cleveland

Micah Furtado 2b Lewis-Clark St. 20th 586 Texas


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