Wholesale changes to the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft have occurred for the second straight year, as the 2021 MLB Draft will feature 20 rounds instead of the traditional 40. Despite the reduced amount of rounds, the 2021 draft will still be a major upgrade from the 2020 edition, which had just five rounds due to the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with a draft that features half the amount of picks in a traditional year, the state of Hawaii still figures to have its share of pro prospects.
Below is a list of players with Hawaii ties who have been identified to KHON2 by MLB scouts, coaches and other sources as likely or potential draft picks.
Caleb Lomavita, catcher, Saint Louis: Lomavita, Hawaii’s 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year, was also the only player with ties to the state at the inaugural MLB Draft Combine in June and had a solid showing, going 2-for-2 with a walk during one scrimmage. Lomavita was also Saint Louis’ ace pitcher during the spring season, but his bat is viewed as too valuable of an asset to be neglected moving forward.
If selections were based on talent alone, Lomavita could very well be Hawaii’s first selection come draft week. But with a baseball scholarship to the University of California, Lomavita is considered a tough sign.
Aaron Davenport, pitcher, University of Hawaii: After going 4-0 in 2020, Davenport impressed early on in the 2021 season for the Rainbow Warriors with a quartet trio of solid starts against Arizona State, Hawaii Pacific, Hawaii-Hilo and Long Beach State as the ‘Bows earned an early national ranking. Davenport went 3-6 in 2021 a 3.74 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 21 walks in 86.2 innings. His best pitch is considered to be his curveball, which scouts believe will translate well to the next level because of its high spin rate.
Cade Halemanu, pitcher, University of Hawaii: A late bloomer who didn’t make any starts in his first two seasons at UH, Halemanu emerged as an All-Big West Conference second team starter after posting a 5-2 record with a 3.60 ERA in 12 starts. To the intrigue of scouts, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Halemanu’s fastball velocity rose to the mid-90’s during the season.
Bronson Rivera, shortstop, Konawaena High School: Rivera, who bats left-handed and is 6-foot-3, has been on the showcase circuit during the summer.
Kobe Kato, infielder, Arizona: Kato hit .350 and started every game at second base for the Wildcats, who were eliminated in the College World Series.
Kole Kaler, middle infielder, Texas A&M (via University of Hawaii): Kaler, who was arguably Hawaii’s most valuable player in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, started every single game at shortstop during that span with a career batting average of .335 with a .972 fielding percentage. Kaler recently announced his commitment to transfer to Texas A&M but is unlikely to play for the Aggies if he gets selected.
Wyatt Young, middle infielder, Pepperdine (via Mid-Pacific): Young was a three-year starter at Pepperdine. After playing his freshman year at second base in 2019, his final two seasons in Malibu were spent at shortstop. Young, who has been lauded by local coaches for his meticulous work ethic, hit .318 with five home runs over his college career with a fielding percentage of .965. Young is believed to be a likely Day 2 selection.
Brock Perreira, catcher, Kaiser: Perreira has received interest from multiple MLB teams for his work behind and at the plate as both a catcher and left-handed hitter. He also signed a National Letter of Intent with Cal State Bakersfield last November.
Brayden Hiraki, pitcher, ‘Iolani: Hiraki, a Cal State Northridge signee, has impressed during the summer circuit.
Anu Reis, pitcher, Mililani High School: Reis, a Hawaii signee, also represented Team USA in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in 2015.
Day 1 of the 2021 MLB Draft takes place on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. HST. Day 2, which consists of rounds 2-10, begins at 7 a.m. HST on Monday. Day 3 of the draft begins at 6 a.m. HST on Tuesday and will consist of rounds 11-20.