As Pearl City native and Saint Louis graduate Jordan Yamamoto made his Major League Baseball debut for the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, becoming the 44th Hawaii born player to reach the big leagues, the question quickly turned to, who’s next?
With a handful of Hawaii natives in the minor leagues many experts believe that there could be four more on the verge as early as this season.
TOP HAWAII BORN MLB PROSPECTS FOR 2019
Kean Wong – 2B/OF – Waiakea – Rays (AAA) .351, 4 HR, 17 2B, 33 RBI
Rico Garcia – RHP – Rockies (AA) – Saint Louis/HPU – 8-1, 1.88 ERA, 85 K, 67 IP
Ka’ai Tom – OF – Indians (AA) – Saint Louis – .283, 11 HR, 30 RBI
Kodi Medeiros – LHP – White Sox (AA) – Waiakea – 42 strikeouts, 44.1 IP
Leading the foursome is Hilo’s Kean Wong with the Rays and Kapolei’s Rico Garcia of the Rockies.
Wong, the little brother of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong is a three-time minor league all-star and currently leads Triple-A’s International League in batting with an average of .351.
For years, Wong has positioned himself for a call-up, but with the youth of the Rays big league lineup, getting his long awaited promotion has taken longer than expected despite the impressive statistics and accolades throughout his career.
Garcia, currently holds a 1.88 ERA in Double-A with 85 strikeouts in 67 innings. He’s recently been touted by prospect sheets as potentially being Colorado’s next pitching call-up. Garcia though, says he doesn’t let the rumor-mill take precedence of the process.
“Yeah, I see some prospects write-ups and stuff here and there, but I don’t really pay any mind to it. They can write one thing and the next day something happens, so I try to take it day by day,” Garcia told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
“This is definitely a dream come true and I didn’t even reach where I want to be yet. Being where I am today, it’s such a great blessing and I know a lot of people would want to be in my position, so I try not to take it for granted,” added Garcia.
Originally drafted in the 30th round by Colorado out of Hawaii Pacific University, the Saint Louis graduate says he is not only motivated by his success but also by the organization that he plays for.
“It’s just a great experience being with the Rockies. They put a lot of faith in me and I just can’t wait to give it my all day after day, I’d do anything for them,” added Garcia.
In his last two starts, Garcia has struck out 15 batters in 12 innings having allowed just one run. The efforts earned him Eastern League pitcher of the week honors.