Kailua’s Joey Cantillo primed to advance pro career with new organization in Cleveland

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Joey Cantillo

Joey Cantillo’s MLB debut seems to be a matter of when and not if.

The left-handed pitcher, who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2017, has impressed at every level he’s played in during his minor league career. In 2020, Cantillo was named to the Padres’ 60-man alternate site, a sign that his big league call-up could be coming soon.

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Cantillo’s time with the Padres came to an end when he was traded to Cleveland’s baseball organization on Aug. 31 as part of a package that sent Mike Clevinger to San Diego during the 2020 trade deadline. But that transaction has not slowed Cantillo’s path to the majors, as he’s set to start the 2021 minor league season with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks. It’s the highest MiLB level Cantillo has reached thus far.

MLB.com currently has Cantillo ranked as the No. 22 prospect in Cleveland’s organization, giving him a 2022 ETA for his MLB debut. If Cantillo does not get added to Cleveland’s 40-man roster by the time the 2022 season is over, he’ll become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which is the same process that brought Ka’ai Tom from Cleveland to the Oakland A’s organization.

Cantillo is one of a handful of players with Hawaii ties who are on the MLB’s doorstep. On Tuesday, Jordan Yamamoto was promoted from the Triple-A Syracuse Mets to the New York Mets. But Yamamoto has been in the show before, as he pitched for the Miami Marlins from 2019 to 2020. Below are the names with ties from the Aloha State who, in addition to Cantillo, are starting the 2021 MiLB season in Double-A or above and have yet to appear in an MLB game.

  • Quintin Torres-Costa, pitcher (Waiakea High School and University of Hawaii): Torres-Costa will start the 2021 season with the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • KJ Harrison, first baseman (Punahou): Harrison will start off with the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
  • Christian Donahue, second baseman (‘Iolani): Donahue will start 2021 with the Tennessee Smokies, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
  • Jackson Rees, pitcher (University of Hawaii): Rees will begin the 2021 season with the Buffalo Bison, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • Tanner Nishioka, third baseman (‘Iolani): Nishioka will begin 2021 season with the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
  • Kodi Medeiros, pitcher (Waiakea): Medeiros will start the 2021 season with the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

The 2021 MiLB season opened on Tuesday, marking the first time since 2019 that minor league games were played. Between then and now, a handful of players with Hawaii ties were released from their respective organizations, mostly due to the MLB reducing the amount of minor league teams from 160 to 120 teams prior to the 2021 season. Below are the names, as well as the most recent teams they played for.

  • Joseph Jarneski, pitcher (Hilo High School): Jarneski, who was selected in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers, was traded to the Chicago White Sox during the 2019 trade deadline. Jarneski was never able to make it past the AZL level and was released on March 20, 2020.
  • David Noworyta, catcher (University of Hawaii): Noworyta, who signed with the Detroit Tigers organization as an undrafted free agent in 2018, was released by the organization on July 3, 2020.
  • Casey Ryan, pitcher (University of Hawaii): Ryan, who was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 18th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, mostly appeared for the Eugene Emeralds, members of the now-defunct Short-Season A level of minor league baseball. Ryan was released by the Cubs on Jan. 12, 2020.
  • Codie Paiva, pitcher (Kamehameha): Paiva was selected in the 22nd round by the Miami Marlins in 2019. He pitched in 14 games, posting a respectable 2.19 ERA. But after not appearing in 2020, he became a causality of mass cuts across the minors on June 20, 2020.
  • Mark Karaviotis, outfielder (Maui High School): Karaviotis, a 19th-round pick for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016, reached Double-A ball in 2019 but was released on May 28, 2020.
  • Jodd Carter, outfielder (Hilo High School): Carter was selected by Cleveland in the 24th round of the 2014 MLB Draft and played six minor league seasons, reaching the Double-A level in 2018. Carter is currently not on an MiLB roster but is listed as a free agent.

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