After an offseason of uncertainty regarding the role of a top returner, University of Hawaii baseball head coach Mike Trapasso announced on Thursday that all-conference closer Dylan Thomas will be the opening night starter for the Rainbows in three weeks.
Thomas, who posted a program record tying 14-saves last season will enter 2019 as Hawaii’s “ace” after passing-up a shot at pro baseball, where he was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft.
“A lot of things went into it more than anything else, just the comfort level that I have with him on the mound opening night and we’ll see what happens after opening night but he’s earned that,” Trapasso told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
Thomas, went 3-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 39-innings a season ago, finishing with 43-strikeouts, holding opponents to a .200 batting average.
“I definitely think that it’s a little comforting just to know exactly what mentality and mindset that I’m going to have to prepare for and it’s definitely going to give me a little bit of a routine that I can get start adjusting to,” said Thomas.
Thomas will lead a starting rotation that also features returning pitchers Dominic Demeiro, Cade Smith, Logan Poulsen, Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and Kash Kolterman in regards to players with starting experience.
“Coming from a redshirt year my freshman year to not really knowing what I was going to do sophomore year kind of establishing that closer role and then last year having just that break out season that I had. I’m definitely excited to have worked my way into the starting rotation. That’s kind of a big deal I think. Most people would say that the starting rotation is what you strive to be and so I’m definitely excited to finally have made my way into that starting rotation,” added Thomas.
All signs point towards Colin Ashworth being the most likely arm that could slide into the back end of the bullpen after posting a 1.64 ERA with 10-strikeouts in 11-innings last season before suffering a season ending injury.
The Rainbow Warriors will hit the field for the first time on Feburary 9 in the annual Alumni Game before opening the 2019 season with a four game series against Portland starting on Feburary 15 at Les Murakami Stadium.