Hawaii baseball feels the 2019 MLB draft

Shortstop Maaki Yamazaki, who completed his UH baseball career, will await to see if he will be picked in next week's MLB Draft for First-Year Players. / Photo by Stephen Tsai

The Major League Baseball Draft for First-Year Players is full of options for players, college recruiters and the pros. Here are the rules:

> High school seniors, junior-college graduates and third-year players at four-year colleges are eligible to be drafted.

> MLB teams have until early July to sign draft picks (the exception being college seniors).

> College juniors have the most bargaining power because they can use the threat of returning to school as leverage. In turn, college seniors probably have the least leverage.

> College coaches squeeze okole every draft hoping their recruits do not get picked high enough to want to sign. If a high school senior is picked in the first three rounds, the only college classes he will be taking will be online. Two years ago, Cade Smith was picked in the 16th round by the Twins, but opted to honor his commitment to UH. Last year, Jackson Rees turned down a chance to return to UH for his senior season and instead signed with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent.

> With the uncertainty of the draft, college coaches continue recruiting through the summer. Last year, Calvin Turchin committed to UH a few days before the start of the 2018 fall semester.

All of which brings us to this year’s draft. Consider:

> On Saturday, 6-foot-7 right-hander Dakota Engleman-Donovan struck out 15 and walked none in the JC World Series. He’ll have more leverage if he pitches well as a UH junior next year. But if he gets picked high, well …

> UH closer Dylan Thomas is considered a top-300 prospect. That figures to be in the 10th-round range, which means he’s played his last UH game. Thomas has a big-time slider that can cut to both sides of the plate.

> There wasn’t enough exposure for shortstop Maaki Yamazaki to be drafted last year. But he is one of the best-fielding shortstops in recent UH history, and he has demonstrated a nice contact swing. He was well regarded until he experienced discomfort making long throws a month ago. An MRI showed no structural damage. But will the injury impact his draft status?

> Ethan Lopez can play short, third and outfield. He has demonstrated gap power, too. He is deserving of playing at the next level. But as a senior, it’s difficult to predict where he will place in the draft.

> Before the season-ending shoulder injury, center fielder Adam Fogel was viewed as a solid draft choice. But his return months away, his pro arrival probably will be delayed until 2020.

> First baseman Alex Baeza drew tepid interest as a third-year sophomore. Baeza is expected to return to UH, whether he is drafted or not, to gain weight and improve his stock. He also is a year away from becoming the first member of his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. That’s important to him.


  1. Jim Little May 27, 2019 6:33 am

    Very interesting, how can a College Coach sleep?
    Wishing the best for you Trap!

  2. Whitey May 27, 2019 6:57 am

    Good morning Tsaikos. My thanks to all the veterans of the armed forces who gave their lives so we could be free.

  3. wafan May 27, 2019 7:34 am

    Ditto Whitey’s #1.

    Many many thanks!

  4. A-House May 27, 2019 7:51 am

    to all my fellow veterans who made the sacrifice in combat or who perished because of combat injuries including my OCS classmate from Alabama, I kneel and bow to your presence.

    to those who are still here, thank you for your service to keep America free!

  5. Old School Dave May 27, 2019 8:05 am

    Happy Memorial Day to all that served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

    Holiday Rambling: South Alabama to build new on-campus stadium. They already have an indoor practice facility there. Thinking that if the State of Hawaii is “going small” with the new stadium, why don’t they built it where the grass fields are in the Lower Campus? Traffic will be heavy for 7-8 days/times out of 365 days in a year and I think that they can be creative in handling or restricting the traffic (to all of the naysayers). Save some money, since all of it is going to the rail. No need for build one shopping mall, condos, and amusement park.


  6. burro sabio May 27, 2019 8:22 am

    Detouring back to football:


    This post is robot-free.

  7. Stephen Tsai May 27, 2019 11:59 am

    Yep, Harry Hill is on the way.
    I’ll have his comments tomorrow. He’s at the beach now.
    He should add some nice competition. Meskell will be a senior, Alex Trifonovitch graduated and won’t be back, and the Last Chance U guy has departed.

  8. A-House May 27, 2019 3:14 pm

    great news! just great!!!

  9. cappie the dog May 27, 2019 4:53 pm

    If you’re a free agent, you pretty much have one season to prove yourself. Jackson Rees did a nice job at staying alive. 0.40 earned run average.

    That should be Kirby Yates’ ERA but the Padres manager brought Yates in twice to start the inning in a tied game, an unfamiliar situation, and gave up the wealth of his season’s earned runs.

    I think Adam Fogel will be drafted.

    I am so relieved that the season is over.

  10. burro sabio May 27, 2019 5:31 pm

    Mr. Tsai, is Cameron Hayes going to play somewhere else next year, or is he going to pocket his degree and move on?

  11. Kanole May 27, 2019 8:09 pm

    Enough off coach Trapasso already. Mediocre teams are the norm nowadays. Not much interest in following the team this year. Time for a change!

  12. Stephen Tsai May 28, 2019 11:44 am

    Burro Sabio:
    The last I checked, he was going to see about playing somewhere else.
    Most likely, he probably will go on to graduate or law school. He’s a sharp guy.

  13. Stephen Tsai May 28, 2019 11:47 am

    Burro Sabio:
    The last I checked was, oh, 17 seconds ago. He said he’ll give me a call when he gets home. Sounds like he was driving. Or pretending to be driving.

  14. sackkabooya May 28, 2019 12:06 pm

    The Rainbow Baseball team has seemingly had a lot of talent (purportedly) but has regretfully under achieved. This season was the most disappointing.

    In (recent) past seasons there seemed to have been some reason for optimism for the program. There was a good mix of size, locally produced talent, and players of some acclaim that combined to make a solid (on paper) product. But something is missing. Something that the 80’s and 90’s teams had that Trapasso’s teams don’t.

    I don’t really have an answer as to what it could be but it’s not as much to do with talent I think. It’s something else. Coaching style maybe? Too much humility? Not enough swag (confident “cockiness”) or emotion? I don’t know what it could be but Someone (Matlin?) has to figure out what the problem is and fix it.

    I believe when all the pieces fall into its perspective places this team can win 30-35 games next year. From there the “sky’s the limit”. but the Program (with or without/or despite Trapasso) has to turn the “proverbial” corner first. When you look at the personnel it’s so possible. Just got to figure it out.

  15. Stephen Tsai May 28, 2019 12:31 pm

    I think the outfield was thin entering the season, and it got worse once Fogel went down. And the infield really struggled after Maaki Yamazaki hurt his shoulder.
    But, hey, Fogel, Demeter and Baeza are back, Scott, Duarte and Best had nice freshmen seasons, and Campos gets the red shirt taken off. Pitching should be OK. And they have a nice little recruiting class. Is that enough for the masses? Who knows. But I love baseball, so, hey, as long as there are garlic fries and Logan Pouelsen, I’m good.

  16. sackkabooya May 28, 2019 12:47 pm

    And Calicdan too…… They don’t seem overly stressed out and pressing so something else is the problem. Can win the Conference next season I think behind the strength of the (young and semi tested) returning pitching staff. One more power hitter maybe?

  17. sackkabooya May 28, 2019 1:12 pm

    I am a firm believer in the “Flutie Effect”. Once the Football team attracts more national viewers with its “style of play” more student/student athletes will “eye” UH as a destination. Every Athletic program has a chance to benefit especially Basketball and Baseball because a larger student body can more readily fill on campus venues and thus become an attractive recruiting tool. Depends on Football though. The “blueprint” Coach Rolovich laid out has been wonderfully executed. More to do with Culture (literally) than anything else. Seems that we are in the beginning of this “Flutie effect” already. Unbelievable now. Just got to get Ganot and Trapasso on board.

  18. sackkabooya May 28, 2019 1:51 pm

    BTW I think the MBB team has a chance to be really good despite all the concern over recruiting, just depends on off season skills development of current roster They will not be as undersized (height and “skinniness”; Steptoe being their best player needed to be on the court as much as possible) game to game as last season. They have recruited an athletic wing (Madut). They have another athletic wing that might be ready to contribute (Hemsley). They still need an athletic “big” but I think got lots of options (the APR fit seems important to Ganot). He has less pressure to use guys he did not trust in (because they transferred). And he has two offensively exciting small guys coming. Just needs that athletic big to matchup and counter opponents. Plus he has two open scholarships to use or roll over for the “Flutie Effect” year. Anything is possible (good and bad) I guess. Anything.

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