Six more Hawaii prep players taken in MLB draft

It was a banner day for recent Hawaii high school baseball players who just graduated in recent weeks.

Six more players joined Iolani pitcher Carlos Rodriguez on the final day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Wednesday.

Rodriguez led the way by being chosen Tuesday in the 20th round by the Atlanta Braves. He was the only prep player from here taken from rounds 2 to 30.

Joining Rodriguez Wednesday in the final 20 rounds of the 50-round draft were:

Punahou outfielder Michael Suiter in the 37th round by the Cincinnati Reds. He has signed with Santa Clara.

"It feels great," Suiter said of being picked. "Finally, the hard work has paid off."

Suiter was far from home when he got the call. He is playing for the Mat-su Minters of the Alaska Baseball League, a collegiate summer league. He has been there for three days and has a game Wednesday night, he said.

"I'm going to try to feels things out," Suiter said of his decision whether to attend Santa Clara or sign with the Reds.

Suiter hit .447 with four doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI for the Buffanblu this past season.

Campbell right-handed pitcher Robert Kahana was taken in the 44th round by the Colorado Rockies. He had been followed closely by the National League West team, as its area supervisor Matt Hattabaugh watched Oahu Interscholastic Association West all-star pitch this past season.

Kahana has signed with Kansas and had indicated before the draft he was likely to go to honor his college commitment. The hard-throwing Kahana was 3-4 with a 1.72 earned run average with 44 strikeouts to 13 walks in 36 2/3 innings this past season.

Two rounds later, classmate and batterymate Chadwick Pookela Kaalekahi, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .324 with a double and homer, driving in eight. He also pitched, going 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 28 innings.

"If I get the money I want, I'll go, but if not, I'll go to school," said Kaalekahi, who plans to play at Feather River JC in California.

"It was pretty scary," Kaalekahi said of monitoring the draft from "I was waiting for quite a while, but it felt good when (the scout) called me. They wanted to know how they wanted to pronouce my name."

Though known as Pookela, he said him mother suggested he use Chadwick for the draft announcement. His brother, Charles Kale Kaalekahi was a 15th-round selection by the Seattle Mariners last year. The University of Hawaii recruit signed with the Mariners along with catcher Christian Carmichael (Kamehameha/Mililani), drafted in the sixth round last year.

Two rounds later, Aiea outfielder Brock Asher was picked by the Cardinals. He hit .378 with two doubles, five triples and a home run and six steals this past season for Na Alii. He had plans to play at Yakima (Wash.) JC.

"I've always wanted to get drafted," Asher said. "It was my dream since I was a little kid."

Kamehameha first baseman Kewby Meyer went in the 48th round to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was invited to walk on at Nevada. Meyer hit .500 with four doubles, a triple and a home run to go along with 13 RBI.

Meyer said he will play for the Island Movers this summer and decide after. The deadline for MLB teams to seal deals in Aug. 15.

"Feels like a normal day," Meyer said of getting picked. "It hasn't hit me yet, I guess."

He said the draft moderator pronounced his school's name wrong. "It sounded funny," he said.

Kailua High's Alan Baldwin, a catcher, was taken in the 49th round by the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a Hawaii recruit.

Baldwin hit .361 with three doubles, a triple and two homers.

He might have had the most adventurous day of the six prep picks.

Baldwin went diving off Lanikai Wednesday morning, assuming he was not going to get picked. Even his mother quit listening to the draft tracker after the 43rd round, he said. He didn't have his cell phone with him all day until he got home about 3:30 p.m.

"When I got home, my mom was (not pleased)," he said. "She said everyone was trying to contact me, but I didn't have my phone with me. My mom was saying, 'Why weren't you answering your phone?' Then she told me and kind of broke down.

"This is probably the best feeling I've ever had."

Baldwin said he will be playing in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League this summer.

The only other player with ties to Hawaii high schools picked was 2008 Punahou graduate Zack Kometani of the University of San Diego. The catcher went in the 21st round to the San Diego Padres.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].





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